Fulton Health Service Advise Residents to Take Precautions in Cold Weather | Print |

Fulton County Health Services understand that while the snow is beautiful, it can be dangerous.  Many people might choose to spend time outdoors in the winter working, traveling, or playing in the snow. Outdoor activities can cause exposure to several safety hazards. 

“We know the snow can be inviting to build a snowman or require shoveling,” states Dr. Matthew McKenna, Medical Director of Fulton County Health Services.  “We need everyone to remember that exposure to cold temperatures, whether indoors or outside, can cause other serious or life-threatening health problems.”

Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk for cold weather exposure, but anyone can be affected. Fulton County Health Service advises residents to take the following precautions provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Dress Warmly and Stay Dry

Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: layers of light, warm clothing; mittens; hats; scarves; and waterproof boots.

Adults and children should wear:

·     a hat

·     a scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth

·     sleeves that are snug at the wrist

·     mittens (they are warmer than gloves)

·     water-resistant coat and boots

·     several layers of loose-fitting clothing

Be sure the outer layer of clothing is tightly woven, preferably wind resistant, to reduce body-heat loss caused by wind. Wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton. Stay dry—wet clothing chills the body rapidly. Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm. Do not ignore shivering. It’s an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a signal to return indoors.

Avoid Frostbite and Hypothermia

When exposed to cold temperatures, our body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature.    Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.

Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.

Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation.      The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures

Avoid Exertion

Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the cold. Otherwise, if you have to do heavy outdoor work, dress warmly and work slowly. Remember, the body is already working hard just to stay warm, so don’t overdo it.

Above all, check on family and neighbors who are especially at risk from cold weather hazards: young children, older adults, and the chronically ill. If you have pets, bring them inside.