Winter Hazards Awareness Week: Cold & Hypothermia - WNEM TV 5

First Warn 5

Winter Hazards Awareness Week: Cold & Hypothermia

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One thing we are all too used to in Michigan is winter's biting cold. It's just a way of life, usually from about November to March, forcing us to bundle up from head to toe, and driving up our utility bills.

No matter how well-adjusted we are to it however, the cold is not something to be taken lightly. By itself, cold is the single leading weather-related killed in Michigan, ahead of all other forms of severe weather including tornadoes, lightning, and floods.

Given that work and travel marches on in our state despite any biting chill or other form of winter weather, it is imperative that we properly prepare ourselves to do battle with it when Winter sets in across the Great Lakes. While much of this will certainly sound like second nature, it is still an important topic to stay prepared for and informed about.

Whether you head out to enjoy a fresh snowfall, or work in a profession that requires you to spend periods of time outside in winter's chill, covering all exposed skin with dry and insulated clothing is a must in preventing any harm from coming your way. From a winter coat, to scarves, hats, gloves, and winter pants, full coverage can help keep you free from the damaging effects of frostbite or worse.

Any clothing you choose should also fit comfortably, but not to tightly. For example, gloves that fit too tightly can constrict blood vessels in your hands, and prevent blood from reaching your fingertips as easily. This in turn can leave them more vulnerable to the cold, even if covered from the open air.

Perhaps the greatest potential danger from the cold is hypothermia, a condition in which a person's body temperature drops to potentially deadly levels. If it drops too low, internal organs and even a person's central nervous system can shut down. Taking even an extra minute to ensure you are protected from the cold can be truly life-saving.

Warning signs that a person is becoming hypothermic can include something as simple as uncontrollable shivering, to something as serious as disorientation and memory loss. If you suspect that someone is experiencing hypothermia, immediately call 9-1-1 and try to warm the person slowly until help arrives.

It is important to warm the person's body core FIRST with a dry blanket, along with their head and neck. Starting on the extremities can actually cause colder blood to rush to the person's heart and could cause it to fail. Keeping the person's core warm can help make the difference and keep them stable until medical assistance arrives.

So, be sure to take those extra measures to combat the cold when it arrives, and count on the First Warn 5 weather team to keep you ahead of winter's eventually onslaught.

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