January 12, 2024
MCHD offers safety tips for cold weather
MOBILE, Ala. — With frigid weather forecast for next week, the Mobile County Health Department wishes to remind the public that serious health problems can result from prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. The most common cold-related problems are hypothermia and frostbite.
Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature drops to 95 degrees Fahrenheit and remains low. The prolonged exposure to the cold causes the body to use up stored energy. Those considered to be at highest risk include infants, the elderly, those with chronic illnesses and/or taking certain medications, athletes, and individuals working outdoors. Some warning signs of hypothermia are:
- Adults – shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech, and drowsiness.
- Children – bright red cold skin, and very low energy.
Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. It causes a loss of feeling and color in the affected area. Frostbite most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes and can permanently damage the body. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures. Some of the following signs may indicate frostbite:
- White or grayish-yellow skin area.
- Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy.
All individuals are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite. If any symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite are noticed, the individual should be taken to an emergency room at once.
Dr. Kevin Philip Michales, Mobile County Health Officer, urges all individuals to take precautions, especially those individuals at increased risk. The following tips are recommended to survive the cold weather:
- Stay indoors if possible and use safe heating sources.
- Beware of the fire dangers from space heaters and candles. Keep these devices and items away from all flammable materials such as clothing, drapes, furniture, magazines, and newspapers. Maintain at least a 3- to 5-foot perimeter around space heaters. And remember to keep children and pets away from unattended space heaters.
- Dress appropriately before going outdoors.
- Drink plenty of non-alcoholic beverages.
- Don’t forget the extended members of your family. Pets should not be left outside for long periods in freezing weather – like humans, they can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite.