As the cold reaches down into Michigan this week wind chills are dropping down into the -20’s. Residents should take extra precautions over the coming days to ensure they are prepared for and protected from this cold snap.
What follows is an alert from the Ionia County Health Department: It is important to be aware of any changes in exposed skin during cold weather periods. Frostbite and hypothermia are very serious conditions that can be lessened by early recognition and treatment. Shivering can be a good indicator that it’s time to go in, as it is the first sign that the body is losing heat.
"If you are going to be doing outdoor activities for an extended period of time it is vital to be observant for signs of frostbite. These include numbness, and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If you think you have frostbite you should go indoors immediately and submerse the extremity in warm (not hot) water for 20-30 minutes until sensation returns. If it does not return in that time you should call your doctor,” Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Chad Shaw said.
While inside, monitor the indoor temperature carefully. Because they lose body heat much faster than adults, infants should never sleep in a cold room. It is also necessary for older adults to take extra home heating precautions, as they tend to have slower metabolisms and so make and retain less heat than other adults.
If you are caring for an infant or senior citizen, be sure to frequently check that their homes are adequately heated. If heating is not at a safe level, making alternative housing arrangements is recommended. When the weather is extremely cold, and especially if there are high winds, try to stay indoors. Making trips outside as brief as possible can help to reduce the potential dangers associated with cold weather.//
To remain healthy and safe this winter, please follow these cold-weather tips while outdoors:
?Dress warmly and stay dry: Be sure to dress in layers in wind resistant clothing. Wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers will hold more body heat than cotton. If your clothing is wet, go inside as soon as possible. When inside, remove the wet clothing as soon as possible.
?Avoid exertion: Cold weather can put extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or other hard work in the cold. The body is already working hard to stay warm, so extra work can cause an overload.
?Cover exposed skin: Always wear a warm hat that covers ears, gloves or mittens that cover the full wrist, and a scarf or ski mask to protect face and neck.
?Be Safe during recreation. Notify friends and family where you will be before you go hiking, camping, or skiing. Avoid perspiring or becoming overtired. Be prepared to take emergency shelter. Pack dry clothing, a two-way radio, waterproof matches, and paraffin fire starters with you. Do not use alcohol or other mood altering substances, and avoid caffeinated beverages.