extreme cold

With the return of below-freezing temperatures in New England, the Melrose-Wakefield Hospital and Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford emergency departments have put together some tips for staying safe and healthy in the extreme cold.

  • • When going outside, dress in layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing instead of one single heavy layer. Wear a hat and gloves, and try to cover all exposed skin. Also, cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
  • • If you need to be outdoors, take frequent breaks where it is warm
  • • Know the signs of frostbite. In extreme cold, frostbite can happen in under a minute. Symptoms include a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance to your skin. The most common areas affected by frostbite are fingers, toes, earlobes and the tip of the nose.
  • • Pay attention to your body. Shivering is an important sign that you are losing body heat. Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can retain heat. Signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion.
  • • Stay hydrated, especially if you are doing any physical activity outdoors.
  • • Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Although alcohol might make you feel warm, it actually decreases your core temperature and can be dangerous.
  • • Be a good neighbor. Check on elderly family and neighbors or those with disabilities to make sure they are warm and safe.
  • • Keep pets safe and indoors. Although dogs and cats have fur, they suffer in the cold just like humans.

For emergencies and more urgent cold-related situations, call 911, visit our emergency departments at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital or Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford, or visit Hallmark Health Urgent Care Centers at Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford or Hallmark Health Medical Center at 30 Newcrossing Road in Reading.

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