Being outside, playing in the snow or sitting in your home waiting for the power to come back on can both result in hypothermia.
Hypothermia occurs when your body looses heat faster than it can generate heat.
Your normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but when your body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, you become hypothermic, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Frostbite occurs when there is a part of the body (usually the fingers, nose, ears, face or toes) that is not protected against the cold temperatures.
The skin first turns red and painful, then may turn white or grayish-yellow and becomes numb, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Often times, the victim does not know they have frostbite due to the numbness of the skin. A person with frostbite, may also be at risk for hypothermia. Do not rub or massage frostbitten areas, or walk on feet or toes that may be frostbitten as it can cause more damage to the skin. Warm the affected areas with warm water or body heat, but do not use a heating pad, the fireplace, or warm them over the stove.
Avoiding Hypothermia and Frostbite
It may be obvious to state that you should go inside if you are outside and experiencing any of these conditions. But what if you are inside, and the power goes out for an extended period of time? How long will the temperatures stay warm enough inside to keep you from freezing? That question has a lot of variables such as your body weight and overall health, how cold it is outside, and the temperature the house was at before the power went out. For example, if you turn up the heat now, it will take longer to reach colder temperatures later if the power goes out. If you lose power for a few hours during the winter you will probably be okay, but for longer outages, you could be in for trouble. Going to a hotel, a relative or a local shelter is the smartest thing to do during power outages due to winter storms like Draco.
Winter time can be provide for lots of fun outdoors, but remember to dress warmly, take breaks to go inside and warm up, and have your emergency plan and kit ready to go during the winter.
Mayo Clinic. Hypothermia. (2011). Accessed December 21, 2012.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Winter Weather: Frostbite. (2007). Accessed December 21, 2012.
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