Staying Safe during the Arctic Freeze

With the forecasted arctic freeze upon us, the Emergency Services Department offers the following tips to stay safe during the dangerous cold weather:  

  • Limit your exposure to the outdoors
  • When going outdoors
    • Dress in layers and stay dry
    • Wear a hat, scarf and mittens
    • Sleeves that are snug at the wrist
    • Water-resistant coat and boots
    • Several layers of loose-fitting clothing
  • Be sure the outer layer of your clothing is tightly woven, preferably wind resistant, to reduce losing body-heat. Wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton.
  • Stay dry – wet clothing chills the body quickly. Excess sweat will increase heat loss too, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm.

Monitor Body Temperature

Exposure to cold temperatures, whether indoors or outdoors, can cause serious or life- threatening health problems.

The most common cold-related problems are hypothermia and frostbite:

Hypothermia (unusually low body temperature)

When you have hypothermia, it affects your brain and prevents you from thinking clearly or moving well. That is why hypothermia is so dangerous – you may not even know it is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.

  • Hypothermia usually occurs at very cold temperatures, but can also happen even at cool temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat or from being in cold water.
  • Victims of hypothermia are most often:
    • Adults under the influence of alcohol
    • Individuals with emotional disabilities
    • People who remain outdoors for long periods.

Hypothermia Warning Signs

o Shivering/Exhaustion
o Confusion/Fumbling Hands
o Memory Loss/Slurred Speech
o Drowsiness

  • If you think someone may have hypothermia, take their temperature. If it is below 95 degrees, get immediate medical attention.

Frostbite (injury to the body caused by exposure to very cold temperatures)

Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation.

Frostbite Warning Signs

  • At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin – you may be getting frostbite.
  • If you have any of the following signs, it might be frostbite:
    • White or grayish-yellow skin area
    • Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
    • Numbness
  • If you see someone with frostbite symptoms, make sure that person gets medical care.
  • Do not ignore shivering. It’s an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Shivering is a sign it’s time to return indoors.

Questions? dennis.rasley@desales.edu or ext. 1513.