REACH Air Medical Services Reminds You to Be Mindful of Cold Weather Dangers
The air company offers important suggestions for avoiding, recognizing and treating two deadly cold-related illnesses: hypothermia and frostbite.
REACH Air Medical Services (REACH) has important , recognizing and treating two deadly cold-related illnesses: hypothermia and frostbite. Both conditions occur even in areas known for warm weather and can be caused by wind chill and exposure to snow or wet conditions.
As the daytime temperatures rise in Elko, it is important to remember that nighttime temperatures still pose a risk. Exposure can be a threat to life and limb – especially for older adults, small children, the chronically ill and people who are required to be out in the cold for long periods. Each year across the United States, nearly 1,300 people die due to exposure from excessive cold.
“To avoid hypothermia and frostbite, wear several layers of clothing – even indoors,” said Stacey Ingram, program director for REACH. “Layers of clothes provide more insulation than one thick garment. When you’re outdoors, the top layer should resist rain, sleet or snow and have zippers for venting body heat if you become too warm.”
Ingram also suggests:
Wear a stocking cap – 40 percent of body heat escapes through the scalp
Wear mittens – they keep hands warmer than gloves
Remove any clothing that gets wet as soon as possible
Check on older adults frequently because age and some medications alter the body’s ability to sense and adapt to temperature changes
Hypothermia is a general cooling of the body’s internal temperature. Hypothermia victims go through stages of shivering, numbness, confusion, drowsiness and can eventually lose consciousness. Unless emergency aid is provided, death can soon follow.
First aid for hypothermia includes removing the person from the cold setting. Remove any wet clothes, wrap the person in warm materials and, if the victim is alert, give warm, non-alcoholic fluids. Never give anything by mouth to someone who is less than fully alert.
Frostbite is the actual freezing of a body part, most often the fingers, toes, ears or nose, making it feel hard, waxy and discolored.
First aid for frostbite includes removing the person from the cold setting. Handle the affected part gently to protect it from further injury. Do not rub the frostbitten part or allow the victim to try to use the part, such as walking on frostbitten toes. Wrap the part in a dry, clean dressing – never put ice on frostbite. Re-warm the frostbitten body part only if emergency care is remote or unavailable. After re-warming, never let the part re-freeze.
If you suspect hypothermia or frostbite, call 911 for help immediately.
For more information, please visit the National Safety Council at nsc.org