Winter Safety Tips

  • Wear layers of warm, dry clothing, including hat and gloves.  Clothing insulates the body to keep it warm and acts as a barrier between your warm body and the outside cold environment.
  • Wear a coat that has a water-resistant outside layer.  Sock liners can be worn to keep moisture out and keep feet warm.  Wear mittens instead of gloves to keep hands warmer
  • Drink lots of water and other non-alcoholic beverages like coffee, tea and hot chocolate to keep your body temperature stable.
  • Check the weather reports and heed any weather advisories.
  • Be aware of the signs and treatments for frostbite and hypothermia, the two most common winter illnesses.

Frostbite:

  • What it is:  It's the number one winter concern.  Wind chill, wet clothing, alcohol consumption and poor circulation can make a person more susceptible to frostbite.  Superficial frostbite shows up as white or grayish-yellow patches on the skin, usually the fingers, toes, and face.  The affected area usually feels hard and waxy, and often numb and tingly.  Deep frostbite often turns skin black and is associated with loss of feeling in the affected area.
  • What to do:  Warm the skin gradually.  If your clothes are wet, change into dry clothing.  Immerse the area in WARM water (not hotter than 105 F).  Do NOT use a heating pad, heat lamp, stove or fireplace as this may warm the skin unevenly or cause further burns.  Do NOT rub or massage the affected area, this could cause more damage.  If the skin blisters, swells, remains numb, or does not warm seek immediate medical attention.

Hypothermia:

  • What it is:  It does not happen in matter of minutes like frostbite, but develops over several hours of exposure to the cold.  Wearing wet clothing and being immersed in cold water can increase the risk of developing hypothermia.  Signs of hypothermia include slurred speech, slow pulse, shallow slow respirations, sluggishness, stiff muscles and mental confusion.  If left untreated, this can lead to coma and death.
  • What to do:  Call 911 or get to an emergency room immediately.  If you are wearing wet clothing, remove it and put on warm clothing or blankets, especially wool or synthetic fabric that insulates well.  If clothing or blankets are not available, you can stay warm by making skin-to-skin contact.  Keep your muscles moving, but do NOT sweat because this will cool the body.  Drink warm fluids that do not contain caffeine or alcohol.  Do NOT sit in front of a fire, heater or stove as this could increase the chance of getting burns due to decreased skin sensation.

Article written by Heather Robinson, RN, EMT-P

This page is meant for public education in basic medical safety issues.  The Cedarville Township Fire Department is not responsible for any further complications resulting from improper use of information contained on this page.




Cedarville Township Volunteer Fire Department
19 South St.
Cedarville, OH, 45314
Phone: 937-766-5851 - Email: ctvfd@woh.rr.com