Practice Cold Weather Safety
Health officials have warned residents to stay indoors as much as possible, since the brutal cold can become dangerous in just minutes. But what actually happens to your body in the frigid air? Almost as soon as you step outside, your body starts to siphon blood flow away from your extremities to focus on keeping your brain and internal organs warm. That’s why your fingers, toes and ears tend to get cold before your core.
Blood vessels start to contract and reduce blood flow to areas including the face, ears, nose and fingers as a “defense mechanism” against extreme cold.
For most people, at least in the short-term, this adjustment is harmless. But people with preexisting heart conditions may be at risk of complications associated with these blood pressure changes, especially if they try to do strenuous outdoor activity like shoveling snow.
In extreme cold, frostbite — or the freezing of skin and underlying tissues — can start to set in after just five to 15 minutes outside. Signs of frostbite include a prickling feeling, followed by numbness and changes in the skin’s color and appearance. It may turn pale, red or blue, or take on a waxy look, according to the Mayo Clinic. The process can be especially quick if your skin is wet, or if you’re not properly covered up.
Signs of hypothermia, or a core body temperature that falls below 95 degrees, can surface after just 30 minutes to an hour in frigid temperatures. People might start to feel confused and start to slur their words and start to have some neurologic changes. Everybody, even otherwise healthy adults, should be aware of these dangers and take appropriate precautions.
Remember that in extreme cold – everything becomes more brittle!
When cars get stuck in a ditch or a driveway, it can be difficult to move them because door handles and bumpers can snap. Even plastic snow shovels can snap when the weather gets cold enough.
Proper clothing is imperative … plan to wear a hat, neck guard, goggles, boots with heated foot insoles, thermal liners, waterproof gloves and a face mask. Wind-proof jackets are also especially important. It’s also important to make sure that you wear waterproof clothes. People often sweat in heavy clothes, which can lead to hypothermia.
Be aware of your surroundings outside, and constantly be aware of where to seek shelter. It’s okay to go outside, but be prepared for it, and you need to come in periodically to warm back up.