Protecting yourself in cold weather - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Protecting yourself in cold weather

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(01/03/14) - The temperatures outside are downright dangerous.

If you don't protect yourself, you could end up in an emergency room.

Being exposed to the arctic like temperatures puts you at risk for frostbite and hypothermia.

Here is a look at the symptoms and what you can do to avoid them.

Frostbite affects parts of the skin that are exposed to the cold. The nose, ears, cheeks chin, fingers and toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body and in severe cases can lead to amputation. If you notice redness or pain on any part of the skin, get out of the cold.

Hypothermia strikes when the body loses heat faster than it can be produced.

Warning signs include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, slurred speech and memory loss. A person experiencing those symptoms should see a doctor.

Infants suffering from hypothermia will usually have bright red, cold skin and very low energy.

Babies and older adults are most at risk for cold-related illnesses. Keep infants in warm clothes and in warm rooms. People 65 years or older should check the temperature in their homes often and try to stay inside.

The Genesee County Health Department says to check on your loved ones and neighbors if you suspect they are exposed to the frigid temperatures.

If you must venture outdoors, here are some additional safety tips.

"Wear layers, long johns, long underwear, hats gloves, mittens, scarves, wrap a scarf around your face when you walk outside, don't over exert yourself outside shoveling, keep your pets and animals inside too," said Angela Thornton, of Covenant Healthcare.

The cold, dry air can also cause problems for those living with asthma. It's a good idea to keep your mouth covered with a scarf while outside to avoid problems.

The Genesee County Road Commission recommends you put together a car emergency kit, in case you get stranded in the cold. The kit should include blankets, non-perishable food and a can opener. You should also have your essential medicines, a flashlight, a shovel and some sand or gravel. It's also a good idea to have a coffee can, candle and lighter. They can all help to provide a little heat.

Also, watch your step. Black ice has caused some problems, sending some to the emergency room.

Adding to the winter blues, doctors say the influenza virus is spreading in Mid-Michigan. Hospitals across the country have seen a steady flow of patients suffering from the H1N1 strain of the flu virus.

Symptoms include, "runny nose, but the biggest thing really is just achy all over, we are seeing the fever," said Dr. Aaron Smith, of Covenant Healthcare.

To protect yourself, "it's important, hand washing, coughing into your arm, and avoid people that have the flu, people that have runny noise or coughing a lot, try to stay away from them," Smith said.
We also checked in with St. Mary's of Michigan. Doctors there say they are also treating an increasing number of flu patients.

Health care professionals stress if you have the flu, stay at home to avoid spreading the virus.

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