Cold weather safety - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Cold weather safety

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WVVA): Cold weather can wreak havoc on the human body. In the year 2016, there were 30 Winter-Storm related deaths. Half of those fatalities occurred in vehicles. There were also 31 extreme-cold related deaths last year.

-Hypothermia  occurs when the your body temperatures drops too low. It is essentially the opposite of having a fever. When this occurs, major organs can start shutting down if the person is not warmed back up properly and in a reasonable amount of time. Hypothermia is more likely to occur if you are wet in addition to being cold...for body heat is lost faster when that is the case.

-Frostbite is the freezing of skin and underlying tissues, when exposed to cold for too long. Extremities like fingers, the nose, toes, ears, the chin, and cheeks are most prone to frostbite. In the beginning stages of mild cases of frostbite, the skin gets very cold & red. If not re-warmed, the skin eventually can turn hard & pale, and in the final stages purple/black. There are people that lose fingers & toes because of frostbite- and if not treated properly- frostbite can lead to gangrene. 

WHY WIND CHILL IS PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS:

When the wind blows across the exposed surface of our skin, it draws heat away from our bodies. When the wind picks up speed, it draws more heat away, so if your skin is exposed to the wind, your body will cool more quickly than it would have on a cold & still day.  This is why wind is usually welcomed during hot days versus cold ones- especially if we have been sweating- wind blowing across a cool, moist surface will cool our skin faster than if we are dry. Because frostbite is the literal "freezing of exposed skin" in the cold, the likelihood of frostbite increases the more wind + cold there is! .

PROTECT YOURSELF:

-BUNDLE UP! If you know you're going to be outside for a long period, pack on the layers of Winter -clothing. Scarves, gloves, hats, heavy coats, that pair of "long-johns"... all recommended in our book.

-LIMIT OUTDOOR EXPOSURE. From the outside laborers, to the kids out sledding- everyone should take frequent inside breaks to warm up. When your hands and feet start getting numb because of the cold, it is time to go in and drink some hot cocoa for a little while. Wet clothes should be removed immediately. (Tip- maybe throw them in the dryer so those kids can get back to their snow shenanigans).

SNOW SHOVELING TIPS:

-Take breaks, don't over exert yourself! Heart attacks have often happened while shoveling snow.

-Stretch before shoveling snow

-"Push" instead of "throw" snow as much as possible

-Bend at the knee (this reduces strain on the back).

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