Extreme temperatures of heat and cold can have dangerious affects not just on the elderly and the young, but also on anyone who does not take precaution to stay safe during these extreme temperature changes.
Cold Weather Tips
When temperatures start dropping below freezing and the wind chill factor adds to the frigid cold, here are tips to staying warm inside and outside and what to do if someone is negatively affected by the cold.
Inside your home:
- Maintain a room temperature of at least 68 degrees during the day and evening and 63 degrees overnight.
- It is dangerous to use an oven as a heating device to warm your home. All space heaters are a fire risk if used improperly.
- If space heaters are used, don't overload them on one outlet.
- Be aware of the elderly and disabled living alone. Offer assistance.
- Wear layers of warm dry clothing. Dressing in several layers of loose-fitting clothing will create pockets of insulating warm air. Wet clothing negates the insulating effect so stay dry.
- Wear wool or fleece fabrics, not cotton as it dries slowly; warm socks with a thermal sock liner; comfortable, closed shoes; a scarf, hat and earmuffs to prevent loss of body heat; a water repellent, hooded outer garment to add extra protection; and mittens instead of gloves to keep hands warm.
- Cover exposed skin surfaces as protection from frostbite.
- Walk around or move in place to increase circulation and generate additional body heat.
- Seek shelter indoors periodically to warm up.
Cold Weather Dangers and Warning Signs:
- Be aware of hypothermia, a potentially fatal condition brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 95 degrees Farenheit. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, stiff muscles, puffy face, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If any of these signs are recognized, seek medical attention immediately or call 911.
- Frostbite is damage to body tissue caused by exposure to extreme cold. Warning signs include a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. To treat frostbite, warm the affected areas gradually by wrapping or placing next to warm skin. Do not rub the affected areas.
- Drink warm, non-alcoholic beverages like tea, coffee, hot chocolate and soup. Drinking alcohol will cause a loss of body heat by dilating blood vessels.
- Maintain good nutrition and get plenty of rest.
- Prescription drugs may increase vulnerability to cold. Check with your doctor or pharmacist.
From November - March, Westchester County maintains warming centers for single individuals seeking shelter from the cold. Families seeking shelter after hours or during weekends should contact DSS Emergency Services at (914) 995-2099.