(January 13, 2011) Sellersville, PA – With a storm on Tuesday dumping another several inches of snow on the region, Grand View Hospital urges members of the community to protect themselves and others this winter. Snow, high winds, ice, and chilling temperatures cause hazardous conditions and can be deceptive killers.
“Following snow storms, we typically see an increase in visits to the emergency department (ED) for falls and heart issues among middle-aged and elderly,” said Grand View’s ED manager, Jacki Howenstein, RN. “Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your physician’s advice about exertion in cold weather.” If told that it’s okay to do outdoor chores, dress warmly and work slowly. “Your body is already working hard just to stay warm, so don’t overdo it,” she warned.
To avoid trips to the ED for falls, stay off areas such as sidewalks, steps, driveways, and porches unless you are certain they are free of ice. Other winter outdoor safety tips Grand View Hospital recommends include the following from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dress Warmly and Stay Dry.
Adults and children should wear:
- A hat
- A scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
- Sleeves snug at the wrist
- Mittens (they are warmer than gloves)
- Water-resistant coat and boots
- Several layers of loose-fitting clothing, preferably with an outer layer that is tightly woven and wind resistant
Wet clothing chills the body rapidly. Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm. Do not ignore shivering as it is an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a signal to return indoors.
Avoid Hypothermia and Frostbite
When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature.
Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.
Frostbite is an injury to the body caused by freezing. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures
Understand Wind Chill
The Wind Chill index is the temperature your body feels when the air temperature is combined with the wind speed. It is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by the effects of wind and cold. As the speed of the wind increases, it can carry heat away from your body much more quickly, causing skin temperature to drop. When there are high winds, serious weather-related health problems are more likely, even when temperatures are only cool. The Wind Chill Chart below shows the difference between actual air temperature and perceived temperature, and amount of time until frostbite occurs.
About Grand View Hospital
Grand View Hospital, Bucks County’s first hospital, has provided residents of Bucks and Montgomery Counties with comprehensive health care services since 1913. Grand View offers a range of care – particularly emphasizing the areas of cancer treatment, women's and children's health, surgery, orthopaedics, and heart and vascular care. For more information about Grand View and its services, visit www.gvh.org.