Staying Safe During Sedalia’s Bitter Cold Snap
It's been cold for about a week now. And it's only getting colder this weekend. Frankly, staying inside sounds like the best plan. But if you do have to go out you don't want to under dress in this weather.
According to the National Weather Service a windchill of -25 can lead to frost bite in as little as 30 minutes. And while the windchill isn't expected to be quite that bad in our neck of the woods, it's going to be pretty rough. The National Weather Service suggests limiting outdoor time, wearing gloves and a hat and dressing in layers.
Two of the most common types of cold weather related illnesses according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are Hypothermia and Frostbite.
Hypothermia, or low body temperature, occurs when your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. When out in the cold for long periods your body will eventually used up your stored energy and the result is hypothermia.
Early symptoms include shivering, fatigue, loss of coordination and disorientation. And later in the progression no shivering, blue skin, dilated pupils, slowed breathing and loss of consciousness.
First aid for someone suffering from hypothermia includes getting the victim out of the cold. Removing wet clothing. And warming the center of the body first (chest, neck, head, groin) using an electric blanket if possible.
If no electric blanket is available skin to skin contact under loose, dry, layers of blankets, clothing, towels or sheets can warm someone's body.
Additionally warm, non alcoholic, drinks can help increase the body temperature if the person is conscious. Once the body temperature increases the victim should be kept dry and wrapped in a warm blanket including head and neck.
Frostbite is caused by freezing and causes a loss of feeling and color in the affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes. Frostbite can permanently damage your body's tissues and in extreme cases lead to amputation. Those with decreased blood circulation and those not dressed properly for the weather are more susceptible to this illness.
Symptoms include reduced blood flow to hands or feet, numbness, tingling or stinging, aching, and blush or pail waxy skin.
First aid includes getting out of the cold as soon as possible and immersing the affected area in warm (comfortable to the touch for non affected body parts) water.
And or warming the affected area using body heat. For example, using the heat of an armpit to warm frostbitten fingers.
Additionally, don't walk on frostbitten toes or feet as this can increase the damage and forstbitten areas shouldn't be rubbed or massaged for the same reason. Warming up affected areas by a heating pad, heat lamp, heat of a stove, a fireplace, or radiator is not recommended as affected areas are numb and can be burned easily.
Forstbite and hypothermia don't sound like that much fun to me. And I haven't even gotten into trench foot and chilblains. You can learn more about those cold weather illnesses on the CDC's website if you're so inclined.
Bottom line, take mom's advice. Wear a hat and gloves and dress in layers. Try not to spend significant time outside. And if you have to work in the elements make sure you have the proper gear and know the signs of when you should come in from the cold.