The Dangers of Freezing Cold Temperatures

Do you know the warning signs of hypothermia and frost bite?

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) - The snow storms left behind freezing cold temperatures -- the coldest we've seen all winter and with that come some serious health concerns.  
 
The Utah County Heath Department says the two conditions people should look out for are hypothermia and frost bite.  They say our bodies lose heat faster than they can retain it in these kind of temperatures so it's important to bundle up and be as prepared as you possibly can.  
 
"There really are some concern from frost bite to hypothermia and unfortunately we've had some cases that are fatal," says Aislynn Tomlin-Hill with the Utah County Health Department.
 
Fortunately the warning signs are visible but if you're not paying attention they can be fatal.  The Utah County Health Department says discoloration of the fingers and toes can be one of the first signs of frost bite.  For hypothermia, they say if someone seems disoriented, not behaving normally after spending a fair amount of time in the cold it may be a sign they need to get help.  Also, nausea and dizziness can be a sign for concern.  
 
Shivering is a mechanism your body uses to stay warm; your muscles are contracting to generate heat to warm up your body.  If that action stops, they say you need to get inside. 
 
If you get inside and you're not warming up that's probably an indicator that you should be calling some sort of healthcare professional if things aren't turning around if you're not feeling better, says Tomlin-Hill. 
 
In these temperatures you need to dress appropriately and in layers.  They recommend you wear moisture wicking clothing as your base, followed by a fleece base layer and a then thick winter coat or jacket.  Be sure to wear warm socks and weather appropriate shoes that are also water resistant.  They also recommend you wear a warm hat.
 
"We lose so much of our body heat through our heads, through the top of our heads, so it really is important to wear a hat," adds Tomlin-Hill.
 
For those who work outside they say alternate your time between inside and out.
 
"Physical activity can certainly help and also a really good way to stay warm is to stay hydrated.  Water is great but warm beverages can really help so, soup, tea, hot chocolate, those are things that can help," added Tomlin-Hill.
 
The department can't stress enough the importance of being prepared.  As you never know when you may get stuck in show or have a power outage and be exposed to the elements for an extended period of time, so always have a winter weather 72-hour supply kit ready.
 
"If you're in your car, do you have blankets?  Do you have extra clothes for everybody in your car that could be traveling with you?  Those are really important things to make sure you have with you," Tomlin-Hill adds.
 
Children and the elderly are the two age groups most likely to be impacted by this kind of weather so be sure to keep a close eye on your loved ones and if you have pets be sure to let me inside so they can stay warm.  
 

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