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Extreme Cold Snap Brings Unexpected Health Risks
Date:1/24/2013

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  • Exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Fumbling hands
  • Memory loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Anyone with signs of hypothermia should receive emergency medical attention, particularly if their body temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

    If medical attention is delayed or not available, bystanders should move the person with hypothermia to shelter or a warm room. Any wet clothing should be removed. The center of the body should be warmed first with heated blankets or skin-to-skin contact under layers of dry blankets, sheets or towels.

    Warm drinks can help a person with hypothermia, as long as they are not alcoholic beverages. Alcohol can cause the body to lose heat more rapidly, Marzo pointed out. He recommended victims be given warm, sweet beverages such as hot chocolate to help maintain their body temperature.

    In frostbite, exposure to freezing temperatures causes numbness and a loss of color in the affected areas. In extreme cases, it can permanently damage the body, and result in amputation. Areas such as the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes are most vulnerable to frostbite.

    As soon as skin becomes numb, appears red, white or grayish-yellow or feels unusually firm or waxy, it's time to warm up and get out of the cold, Marzo cautioned.

    Among the steps people can take to protect themselves from the cold is to wear the appropriate clothing. Marzo recommended that adults and children alike wear the following:

    • Hats
    • Scarves or knit masks to cover the face and mouth
    • Sleeves that are fitted around the wrist
    • Mittens, which are warmer than gloves
    • Water-resistant coats and shoes
    • Several layers of loose-fitting clothing

    The outer layer of clothing should be tightly woven and wind-resistant if possible. Underneath, people should wear wool, silk, or polypropylene layers, which will trap more body heat than c
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