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Tips for Surviving the Extreme Cold

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Tips for Surviving the Extreme Cold

January 09
18:47 2018

Image result for shivering person

Much of the central, southern and eastern United States is experiencing some extremely cold weather. After the past two winters being warmer than average, this winter is seeing us plunging into a deep freeze reaching as far south as Texas along the Gulf coast to Florida. An extremely cold Arctic air blast is rushing down from Canada and combining with a storm in the south, forming what weather people are calling a ‘bomb cyclone’. Roads are icy, cars are sliding, people are sliding, powerlines are falling, not exactly the rosy warmer winter weather predicted by many climate change gurus, is it?

Do you know what some of the greatest dangers this cold weather can have you and your family and how to help prevent them?

If you’re outside very much in the weather, the number one danger is frostbite. You’ve all heard of frostbite, but do you really know what it is and how easy it is to get it.

Your body is largely made up of water. Water freezes when it gets cold enough. When the water in the cells of your skin gets cold enough, it freezes. When that happens, the cell dies, leading to muscle and nerve damage.

When water freezes, it expands. Fill a plastic bottle with water, put the lid on and put it outside in this cold weather. Not only will the water in the bottle freeze, but as it does, it will expand and break the bottle. This is what happens with your skin and underlying tissue, causing frostbite.

Did you know that any skin surface exposed to -5 degrees for just 30 minutes can develop frostbite? Add a breeze or wind and it happens even quicker.

To avoid frostbite, make sure every possible surface of your body is covered, including your face. Frostbite can easily destroy an exposed nose or ear lobe.

The second greatest danger to your health during the cold is hypothermia. We are warm blooded creatures with a fairly constant body temperature. That temperature goes up when we are ill and fighting some kind of disease or infection. If the temperature gets to high, it kills the brain.

In the winter, there is the danger of the body temperature getting too low and causing hypothermia. If your core temperature drops from the normal 98.6 to just 95, you are entering the early stages of hypothermia.

The first signs of hypothermia are shivering and lack of coordination. If it gets worse, it can cause slurred speech, low energy, weak pulse and the shivering can stop. From there, it causes mental confusion, numbness to extremities, unconsciousness and death.

Once someone reaches severe hypothermia, it is very difficult to get them to fully recover.

The thing to remember is to bundle up, dress warm in layers, wear gloves and warm hat. Just like frostbite, the less exposed skin to the cold, the better. Avoid getting wet and if you do get wet, then remove the wet clothing as soon as possible and find some warmth.

The third greatest danger to your health in this kind of cold weather is hypoglycemia. Yes, that may sound surprising, but hypoglycemia can be a big health concern in cold weather. Hypoglycemia is defined as abnormally low blood glucose (sugar), which is the body’s main source of energy.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia include, fatigue, heart palpitations, pale skin, anxiety, shakiness, sweating, hunger, irritability, tingling sensations around the mouth, confusion, vision problems, seizures and even unconsciousness.

As your body is exposed to colder conditions, it begins burning up energy sources in order to create heat. When you shiver from the cold, that is the body causing muscle activity which generates heat and it takes energy for those muscles to vibrate – shiver. As your body is trying to generate heat, it will use up available sources of energy which in turn can lead to drops in blood sugar levels – hypoglycemia.

If you know you are going to be outside in the cold weather, it’s recommended that you make sure you keep your body fueled. If necessary, increase your intake of simple sugars and carbohydrates. Some of the foods recommended for anyone being outside in this frigid weather includes honey, mixed nuts, peanut butter, granola, dark chocolate and granola bars.

If you have to go outside in this very cold weather, make sure that you have covered as much of your skin surface as possible and cover in layers of clothes, as the air between them helps to act as insulation. Keep as dry as possible and keep your body fueled with enough energy.

My wife says the best solution is to just stay inside until it gets warmer.

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