HAPPY NEW YEAR! Out with the old and in with the new! As you work on your new year resolutions, be sure that safety is a priority in 2019! With January traditionally being the coldest month of the year, snow, ice, hypothermia and frostbite are all concerns.
With the normal body temperature being 98.6 degrees, hypothermia can occur when our body temperature drops below 95 degrees! Signs of hypothermia include shivering, slurred speech, clumsiness, confusion and/or red skin in children.
Frostbite is a freezing of the skin and tissues, commonly found on the fingers, toes, ears, nose, cheeks, or chin. Symptoms include numbness, red or gray skin, hard or waxy skin and, because of numbness from the cold, you may not realize you have frostbite until someone else points it out.
The snow and ice can be a beautiful sight, from inside next to the fireplace. But, be careful of black ice and slippery surfaces while walking or driving this time of year.
To prevent or prepare for cold weather emergencies:
- Limit your time outdoors in cold, wet or windy weather.
- Dress with multiple layers, changing out wet gloves, hats or socks as soon as possible.
- Do not drink alcohol if you plan to be out in cold weather.
- Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water before going out into the cold.
- Keep emergency supplies (blankets, extra hats, gloves, a clean can to melt snow, matches and/or a candle) in your car during the winter, in the event of getting stranded.
- If stranded, keep everything you need in the car, huddle together under blankets and only run your vehicle for 10 minutes each hour to warm it.
- Spread sand or kitty litter on the ground for extra foot or tire traction on slick surfaces.
- DO NOT start and warm your vehicle in the garage. If you must start and warm your vehicle, park it outside to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
- DO NOT run portable heaters without constant supervision of the heater.
Randy Richman is a part-time Brookfield firefighter and paramedic, a firefighting instructor and regional director of hyperbaric medicine for Shared Health Services Inc.