A reminder to take seriously the health risks associated with extreme cold

We know with winter comes the cold weather, but it’s the extreme cold and temperatures below freezing when we should be extra careful.

“Our visits to the emergency room always go up in the winter months due to frequent falls and cold exposures,” Emergency Room Physician at Bryan Health, Dr. John Bonta said.

The wind chills this midweek is expected to be around -20 to -30.

Prepare yourself in advance. In case you get stranded, keep your vehicles packed with extra clothes, blankets, phone charger and flashlights.

Dr. Bonta says approximately 1,300 deaths a year, in the United States, are due to cold related injuries.

“The most important thing you can do is avoid these extreme temperatures so you are not putting yourself at risk or your children at risk and it’s a simple way to stay safe,” Dr. Bonta said.

If you have to be outside, protect yourself against the elements. Dr. Bonta says you should layer your clothes the most efficient way.

“The inner layer should be wool or polypropylene, you want an insulation layer usually a fleece or wool and then an outer protective layer which protects you against the wind, rain and snow,” Dr. Bonta said.

It’s important to note that children and elderly patients are most at risk during the extreme cold. They are less able to regulate their body temperature.

Other risks of being out in the extreme cold temperatures include hypothermia and even frost bite. Some of the symptoms of having hypothermia include shivering, loss of fine motor skills, confusion and slurred speech or mumbling.

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