Sheriff Charles E. Jett
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Charles E. Jett

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Cold Weather Caution
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By PIO Bill Kennedy
January 6, 2014

Temperatures will fall into the teens this evening and reach single digits overnight. Wind chills may reach temperatures as low as -5 to -15 degrees. Winds will be between 15 and 25 MPH with gusts as high as 25 MPH. These dangerously low wind chills can readily lead to hypothermia and frostbite, even with short term exposure. Serious health problems can result from prolonged exposure to the cold. The most common cold-related problems are hypothermia and frostbite. Cold temperatures can cause your body to lose heat faster than it can be produced, which can cause hypothermia. Frostbite is an injury to the body caused by freezing. It causes a loss of feeling and color in parts of the body. The following information is provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Hypothermia

Warnings signs of hypothermia in adults include: Shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands ,memory loss, slurred speech, drowsiness.

If you notice signs of any of these in an individual, take these steps:

• Get the victim into a warm room or shelter. • If the victim has on any wet clothing, remove it. • Warm the center of the body first—chest, neck, head, and groin—using an electric blanket, if available. Or use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets. • Warm beverages can help increase the body temperature, but do not give alcoholic beverages. Do not try to give beverages to an unconscious person. • After body temperature has increased, keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck. • Get medical attention as soon as possible.

Frostbite

At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin — frostbite may be beginning. Any of the following signs may indicate frostbite:

• a white or grayish-yellow skin area • skin that feels unusually firm or waxy • numbness

A victim is often unaware of frostbite until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb.

What to Do:

If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care. Because frostbite and hypothermia both result from exposure, first determine whether the victim also shows signs of hypothermia, as described previously. Hypothermia is a more serious medical condition and requires emergency medical assistance. If (1) there is frostbite but no sign of hypothermia and (2) immediate medical care is not available, proceed as follows:

Get into a warm room as soon as possible. Unless absolutely necessary, do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes—this increases the damage.

Immerse the affected area in warm—not hot—water (the temperature should be comfortable to the touch for unaffected parts of the body). Or, warm the affected area using body heat. For example, the heat of an armpit can be used to warm frostbitten fingers.

Do not rub the frostbitten area with snow or massage it at all. This can cause more damage.

Don’t use a heating pad, heat lamp, or the heat of a stove, fireplace, or radiator for warming. Affected areas are numb and can be easily burned. These procedures are not substitutes for proper medical care. Hypothermia is a medical emergency and frostbite should be evaluated by a health care provider.

Stay warm and be safe!

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Stafford County Sheriff's Office
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 189, Stafford, VA 22555
Physical Address: 1225 Courthouse Road, Stafford, VA 22554

Emergency Dial 911
Non-Emergency/Information: (540) 658-4450
E-mail: info@staffordsheriff.com
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