Not much gardening happening in this weather. But no matter what takes you outdoors, precautions should be followed when it gets this cold.
Radio station Z-102.9 had an on-air “strip poker” game this morning. The loser had to run outside with whatever clothes she was left wearing. Not the best example for kids sitting at home in another day off from school.
Hopefully school children have better sense.
The Iowa Department of Public Health offered the following advice for cold weather safety:
According to the National Weather Service, wind chills will range statewide from 30 to 40 below zero overnight and tomorrow morning when people will be going to work and children will be going to school. In those conditions, exposed skin could freeze within 10 minutes.
It is best to stay inside if possible, but if you must be outdoors during these extreme conditions, it is very important to protect yourself against frostbite.
Cover all skin, including hands, head and ears, neck and face, if going outdoors for any length of time, even if only for a few minutes.
Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a grayish color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the skin, causing scarring, and severe cases can lead to amputation. Signs of frostbite include a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, or numbness. A person is often unaware of frostbite until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb.
If you must be outside for any length of time, make sure you check yourself and your children for these signs. If your skin shows these signs of freezing, go into a warm place immediately. Warm up frozen/chilled skin by pressing against normal temperature skin (put frozen fingers in armpits). Do not massage frozen/chilled skin, do not rub with snow, or place hot items against skin as this could cause more damage. Seek medical attention if skin does not quickly return to normal color or pain occurs and continues.
More information on frostbite can be found at www.idph.state.ia.us/adper/common/pdf/winter_weather/frostbite_factsheet.pdf.
And from St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids:
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hypothermia occurs when the body temperature falls below 95 degrees.
Nearly 600 Americans die each year from hypothermia.
Victims of hypothermia are most often:
- Elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating
- Babies sleeping in cold bedrooms
- Children left unattended
- Adults under the influence of alcohol
- Mentally ill individuals
- People who remain outdoors for long periods
Symptoms of hypothermia for infants include bright red, cold skin and very low energy.
For adults, symptoms include:
- Confusion/fumbling hands
- Memory loss/slurred speech
Frostbite is injury to the body caused by freezing that 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.
At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin. Frostbite may be beginning.
Any of the following signs may indicate frostbite:
- A white or grayish-yellow skin area
- Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
Hypothermia is a medical emergency and frostbite should be evaluated by a health care provider.