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Cold Weather

During the winter months, temperatures in Lenexa can drop below zero, and you should be prepared for what to do when cold weather strikes.

Infants and older people are most at risk for cold-related illnesses. Infants lost body heat quickly and cannot make enough body heat by shivering. Keep infants in warm rooms and provide warm clothing and blankets. Older people make less body heat due to their slower metabolism and less physical activity. During extremely cold days, check on elderly friends and neighbors to ensure their homes are adequately heated.


Frostbite

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

During cold months, high winds can exacerbate temperatures and carry heat away from your body more quickly, making frostbite a risk.

Warning signs

Frostbite can begin with redness and pain in your skin, and you may be unaware of it until someone else points it out. Other signs that could indicate frostbite:

  • White or grayish-yellow skin area

  • Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy

  • Numbness

What to do if you see warning signs

You should seek medical care quickly. If immediate medical care is not available:

  • Get into a warm room as soon as possible.

  • Do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes, unless it is absolutely necessary.

  • Immerse the frostbitten area in warm (but not hot) water.

  • Warm the frostbitten area using body heat.

  • Do not rub the frostbitten area or massage it.

  • Do not use a heating pad, heat lamp or other direct heat source, as frostbitten areas are numb and can be easily burned. 


Hypothermia

When you are exposed to cold temperatures, your body loses heat faster than it can produce it. This causes hypothermia, which can affect the brain. It occurs most commonly at very cold temperatures, but it can also occur in cool temperatures combined with rain, wind or sweat. Those most at risk are:

  • Older people who do not have adequate food, clothing or heating

  • Babies sleeping in cold bedrooms

  • Children left unattended

  • Adults who are under the influence of alcohol

  • People who have mental illnesses

  • People who spend long period outdoors

Warning signs

In adults, the warning signs for hypothermia are:

  • Shivering

  • Exhaustion

  • Confusion/fumbling hands

  • Memory loss

  • Slurred speech

  • Drowsiness

In infants, the warning signs are:

  • Bright red skin

  • Cold skin

  • Very low energy

What to do if you see warning signs

If you suspect someone is suffering from hypothermia, take their temperature. If it is below 95 degrees, seek medical attention immediately. If medical care is not available:

  • Get the person into a warm room.

  • Remove any wet clothing.

  • Warm the center of their body first using an electronic blanket or skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels or sheets.

  • If the person is conscious, give them warm, non-alcoholic beverages.

Someone with severe hypothermia may be unconscious and may not be breathing or have a pulse. Seek medical assistance immediately, and begin CPR. In some cases, it is possible for people with hypothermia to be successfully resuscitated.


How to keep warm

Appropriate clothing can help keep you warm in extreme cold temperatures. In addition to a coat that is tightly woven and wind resistant, you should wear:

  • A hat and scarf or knit mask to cover your face and mouth

  • Sleeves that are snug at your wrist

  • Mittens (they are warmer than gloves)

  • Water-resistant coat and shoes

  • Several layers of loose-fitting clothing (wool, silk or polypropylene materials hold more body heat than cotton).

Also, eat well-balanced meals, and do not drink alcoholic beverages. Rather, grab a warm, sweet beverage such as hot chocolate.


Heat your home safely

If you use a wood stove, fireplace or space heater, follow these safety tips:

  • Keep a multipurpose, dry chemical fire extinguisher nearby.

  • Do not burn paper in a fireplace.

  • Make sure there is adequate ventilation and the heating elements are not leaking flue gas into the indoor air space.

  • Do not place space heaters near drapes, furniture or bedding.


What to do if you get stranded in your vehicle

If you are stranded in the cold, your first priority should be to keep yourself warm. Keep these tips in mind to help you survive:

  • Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna of your vehicle to signal rescuers.

  • Move necessary items from the trunk to the interior of your vehicle.

  • Wrap your entire body in extra clothing, blankets or newspapers.

  • Stay awake, as you will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems.

  • Run the motor and heater for 10 minutes each hour. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe.

  • Keep your arms and legs moving to improve your circulation.

  • Do not eat snow – it will lower your body temperature.