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Frigid Temperatures Bring Serious Health Threats

Those frigid temperatures can cause severe damage to the body if you aren't taking care of yourself. Being outside for as little as five minutes can cause hypothermia or frostbite.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Everyone loves a good snow day, but with temperatures barely hitting double-digits, and bone-chilling wind making the air feel well below zero, snow days can actually become dangerous.

"Hypothermia can set in, as well as frostbite, in a matter of minutes," said Angie Springs.

Hypothermia and frostbite can happen to anyone who is out longer than need be.

That means, shoveling snow, or even getting the mail.

Those situations may seem innocent, but it shows just how frigid these temperatures are.

Doctors recommend wearing enough layers to be outside for at least an hour; Even if you only plan to be out for a minute.

"If you've got enough coverage on to keep you warm for that period of time, then worst case scenario even if you fell down, or needed help, you'd still be warm for that period of time that somebody could get you help," said Dustin Smith.

Dustin Smith, a. E.R. Physician with Heartland Hospital, said they treat a few patients a day to hypothermia or frost bite.

Hypothermia is when your body temperature drops below 98 degrees. The first sign is shivering.

"You can start to get dizzy. You start to mumble, is one of the symptoms as well. You can get disoriented as well as you can feel it in your extremities that you are bitterly cold," said Springs.

Frostbite is when outer parts of your body, such as your fingers and toes, literally become frozen.

"Numbness, tingling, pain," said Smith.

If any of those symptoms occur, the first thing to do is call for help.

Then, take off any wet clothing while waiting for medical assistance.

"Get those off. Get down to bare skin if possible. And then, any warm blankets or warm dry clothes is a good thing," said Smith.

As the Artic air continues to sweep through St. Joseph this winter, the best way to avoid hypothermia and frost bite is to simply stay inside.

Hypothermia and frostbite can impact anyone, but children and the elderly have a higher risk.

Also, doctors wants adults to know that drinking alcohol does not help you stay warm.

In fact, it increases your chances of hypothermia and frostbite.
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