Staying safe in cold weather – Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

So some of the things we see coming into the Emergency Department from cold stretches include exposure and exposure can range from anything from Just being cold or chilled to the bone as they use to say to something we use to call medically related coldness or hypothermia. Hypothermia is one Of those things that when patients get exposed to cold temperatures for a long period of time, it goes
to a certain levels of injury patterns to your extremities. Usually your fingers and toes. And the first level of hypothermia would include redness to your fingers or toes
very cold painful, tingling, numbness, things like
that. It can progress pretty quickly to the second degree which could include
blistering and then the more severe episodes which include tissue death. What actually happens inside of there is
that the water from inside your body freezes and it crystallizes and causes cell damage. The best thing you
can do with that or any other coldness is to get out of the cold and not expose yourself So there are things that people can do to
prevent injury from cold temperatures. Simple things like covering up. You always want to wear a hat, wear gloves. You will see people run into this situation
when they don’t expect to run into this situation so their driving in their
car and they run out of gas or they slide off the
road and they can’t get the car unstuck. And they didn’t expect to be exposed because they are inside of their car but they are not prepared. So, they don’t have hats, they don’t have gloves, they don’t have multiple layers of clothing. They don’t have good shoes to be able to walk in. And so, being prepared is nine tenths of the situation. So, if you have to go out, you want to keep yourself covered. Covered in layers are best. So if it happens to warm you can take some of those layers off or if it cools down, you can layer yourself back up again. That’s one of the best things you can do to protect. if you happen to be in that situation
get yourself out of that situation. It’s really the best thing to do. I’m sure all the times we remember as kids running around outside and being cold and your nose was a little bit red and your fingers felt a little bit cold. You know that’s a touch of hypothermia. And so what do you do for treatment? You don’t have to go running to the doctor every time you have just a little bit of that. So, we talked about first-degree, it’s a
little bit red is a little bit sore, kind of tingly, get yourself out of that expose take off that wet clothing. That is the best
thing you can do. Once you take off that wet clothing, dry yourself off and get yourself re equilibrated to a normal temperature. So, when you bring the kids in, bring them inside, take their wet clothing off, dry off any areas that are cold and you know, go ahead and expose them to the warm temperatures. You don’t want to too rapidly rewarm. You are not going to dump in hot water or anything like that becasue that would then cause injury from a higher temperatures you know, let the temperature come back up. If you have to run a little cool water over top of it to make them feel a little bit better, that’s okay too but make sure you try and keep your hands nice and warm, sit next to a fire or, you know, just warm yourself up in a blanket can go a long way. So there’s a couple things that people
who had more severe hypothermia, whether it be second or third degree, you’ll notice some findings on, the pain will be sever. Something you really can’t handle. And that’s kind of a sign that you may be having some tissue damage probably worth getting checked out clearly blistering on the skin is
something there if he had skin that’s changing colors and it’s not changing back, a little bit redness is okay dark color, black color is not okay. That would be significant injury related to it If you’re having pretty sever pain up until that point, one thing that is
relatively unique to lower temperatures is the exposure to carbon monoxide. You will see that in a couple different situations people will be in their garage and they’ll turn on their car because they will want it up but there’s no ventilation. And you car produces carbon monoxide is an oderless gas it’s a tasteless gas and it can very quickly overwhelm you. You’ll get dizzy, you might get lightheaded, you may get confused so very quickly, when you get dizzy
lightheaded and confused you may fall down. You may have situations where you can’t get yourself out of that carbon monixide poisioning and bad things can happen from that. So, not only the car but also from heaters and from fireplaces.

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