Avoid get­ting frost­bite dur­ing the deep freeze

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - NEWS -

tim­mins res­i­dents ex­pe­ri­enced an abrupt in­tro­duc­tion to freez­ing win­ter con­di­tions this week, with tem­per­a­tures drop­ping be­low –30c.

With cold weather be­ing a fact of life for North­ern­ers, Pub­lic health Sud­bury & dis­tricts is re­mind­ing ev­ery­one to take ap­pro­pri­ate pre­cau­tions in the cold.

in­juries re­lated to the cold can hap­pen at a wide range of tem­per­a­tures, but oc­cur more quickly when it’s colder. hy­pother­mia and frost­bite are the most com­mon and pre­ventable in­juries.

Suf­fer­ing frost­bite means that skin has ac­tu­ally frozen. in ad­di­tion to feel­ing cold, the skin can feel numb and ap­pear white. body ex­trem­i­ties are of­ten the first to be frozen, for ex­am­ple, the nose, cheeks, ears, fin­gers, and toes. if frost­bite is sus­pected, im­me­di­ately treat the area by some­how cover­ing it. Never rub or mas­sage the area be­cause it could dam­age the skin tis­sue. if pos­si­ble, gen­tly place the area in warm wa­ter (not hot) un­til it is warm and no longer numb. ap­ply a ster­ile dress­ing to the area, and place dress­ings be­tween fin­gers and toes if they are af­fected. Seek med­i­cal at­ten­tion to avoid fur­ther com­pli­ca­tions.

hy­pother­mia is a life-threat­en­ing con­di­tion. it oc­curs when the body is ex­posed to the cold for a long time and loses more heat than it can gen­er­ate. the in­di­vid­ual could be shiv­er­ing, drowsy, con­fused, and have slurred speech, loss of co­or­di­na­tion, and pale and bluish lips. When they stop shiv­er­ing, their con­di­tion be­comes se­vere and un­con­scious­ness can soon fol­low. treat hy­pother­mia by mov­ing the per­son to shel­ter, re­plac­ing wet cloth­ing with dry cloth­ing, and wrap­ping them in warm blan­kets. Keep the per­son ly­ing flat and get im­me­di­ate med­i­cal at­ten­tion.

to pre­vent cold re­lated in­juries:

• Lis­ten to the weather fore­cast and plan ac­cord­ingly;

• Dress in lay­ers, with a wind re­sis­tant outer layer. Wear a hat and mit­tens or in­su­lated gloves. Keep your face warm by wear­ing a scarf, neck tube or face­mask;

• Wear warm and wa­ter­proof footwear that fits prop­erly;

• Stay dry. Wet cloth­ing chills the body rapidly. re­move outer lay­ers of cloth­ing or open your coat if you are sweat­ing;

• Stay ac­tive, walk­ing or run­ning will help warm you by gen­er­at­ing body heat;

• Seek shel­ter from the wind;

• Mon­i­tor in­di­vid­u­als who have de­men­tia, a psy­chi­atric di­ag­no­sis, or who are un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol or drugs as they are at higher risk for cold re­lated in­juries; and

• Speak to your doc­tor or phar­ma­cist as cer­tain med­i­ca­tions can also make you more sus­cep­ti­ble.

On very cold days, check in on neigh­bours who may be vul­ner­a­ble to cold due to age, liv­ing con­di­tions, health con­di­tions, re­duced mo­bil­ity, or iso­la­tion.

Peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness spend long pe­ri­ods out­side and can suf­fer in­creased ef­fects from the cold. this can be due to the fol­low­ing is­sues as well as other fac­tors:

• in­ad­e­quate cloth­ing;

• mal­nu­tri­tion;

• a pre­vi­ous cold-weather in­jury; and

• his­tory of heart dis­ease or di­a­betes.

the pos­si­bil­ity of se­vere non­fa­tal im­pacts of cold weather, such as am­pu­ta­tion or ex­tended hos­pi­tal­iza­tions, in­creases for home­less in­di­vid­u­als be­cause of these fac­tors. to help peo­ple in these sit­u­a­tions, con­sider do­nat­ing warm blan­kets, warm socks, mit­tens, hats, long un­der­wear, footwear and out­er­wear to lo­cal aid groups

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