TEXARKANA, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – Frigid, Arctic air is sweeping the nation, and a doctor in Texarkana is reminding residents of the dangers of long-term exposure to the cold and
Dr. Matt Young, a physician at Texarkana Emergency Center, said it is best to stay inside during this type of weather.
“For those that do have to be outside or have to go outside for an extended period of time, we want people to layer up, to have several layers of clothes,” Young said. “We’re going to need gloves; we’re going to need face coverings.”
Hypothermia occurs when people are exposed to cold temperatures for long periods.
When this happens, the body loses heat faster than it can be produced. This lowers the body temperature causing early symptoms of hypothermia.
What are the signs and symptoms of hypothermia?
- exhaustion or feeling very tired
- fumbling hands
- memory loss
- slurred speech
- bright red, cold skin
- very low energy
Who’s most at risk for hypothermia?
- Older adults with inadequate food, clothing, or heating
- Babies sleeping in cold bedrooms
- People who remain outdoors for long periods—the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.
- People who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs.
Young says hyperthermia can be deadly and if you feel yourself having any symptoms get to a hospital, your local emergency room, or call 911.
If you cannot get medical help immediately, the Center for Disease Control recommends trying to warm the person up.
- Get the person into a warm room or shelter.
- Remove any wet clothing the person is wearing.
- Warm the center of the person’s body—chest, neck, head, and groin—using an electric blanket, if available. You can also use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.
- Warm drinks can help increase body temperature, but do not give alcoholic drinks. Do not try to give beverages to an unconscious person.
- After body temperature has increased, keep the person dry and wrap their body, including their head and neck, in a warm blanket.
- Get the person proper medical attention as soon as possible.
A person with severe hypothermia may be unconscious and may not seem to have a pulse or to be breathing. In this case, handle the person gently, and get emergency assistance immediately.
- Perform CPR, even if the person appears dead. CPR should continue until the person responds or medical aid becomes available. Keep warming the person while performing CPR. In some cases, hypothermia victims who appear dead can be resuscitated successfully.