2018-01-11 / Editorial

To the bitter end

By Ken Elmore
Markey Township Firefighter

To the bit­ter cold end of the year that is. Well, the frigid cold temps have been dropped on us like a rock, and if you are like me, I don’t know if I was quite as prepared as I should have been.

Cold is one thing, but boy this stuff is downright dangerous if you’re not careful. There are two conditions to watch out for in cold weather: frostbite and hypothermia.

While frostbite is probably a more familiar condition than hypo­thermia, both can be hazardous to health. Frostbite is usually associat­ed with fingers, toes, ears and facial parts that are exposed to the extreme cold and begin to freeze. A clarifica­tion here: when I say “exposed,” that doesn’t necessarily mean exposed to the outside, it means exposed to the temperatures. Many cases of frost­bite happen even though someone is wearing gloves, mittens or boots. As these body parts get colder and colder, they begin to go numb and turn red. If conditions continue to get worse, these parts may actually begin to freeze. The skin will lose color and turn pale over time and in cases of deep frostbite, blisters and swelling may appear and the skin may turn white and take on a waxy appearance. If you are faced with slight frostbite, you may combat this by simply getting the parts affected out of the cold and carefully warm­ing them. Many times simply plac­ing them next to a warm body part will work. A word of caution, do not try to warm parts by rubbing them or placing them in hot water, this will only make the problem worse. In cases of more severe frostbite, again do not rub, break blisters or apply heat, but seek prompt medi­cal attention, as these cases must be handled under carefully controlled conditions. Regardless of the sever­ity, if you are uncertain, always error on the side of caution and get help.

Hypothermia, the other condition mentioned, is when the body simply cannot generate enough heat to keep your internal temperature where it should be. This results in a decline of your core temperature, and unless this decline is reversed, the outcome is fatal. Persons experiencing hypo­thermia may have a decreased level of consciousness, may feel sleepy, are shivering uncontrollably or may not even be able to shiver any more. They are clearly not in a normal state and medical attention will have to be summoned for them immediately. Considering the temperatures we are experiencing as of late, even a slip and fall outside could lead to serious consequences.

That is why as a few sugges­tions, we would encourage every­one to make sure you are dressed appropriately, no matter what the activity. Even if it’s just getting the mail or heading out to the garage for something, take the time to protect yourself. If you are going out for a more lengthy activity, layer up and listen to your body as your time out­side goes on. It may be telling you, enough is enough! Seek some shel­ter, warm up and go back out and have more fun.

One final and very important point: please monitor the little ones carefully. Make sure they have good hats on and gloves or mittens. Tell them to zip up the coat and keep it zipped. We all know youngsters don’t pay attention, so let’s be there for them. So what do you say folks? Let’s all bundle up and go out and enjoy the white stuff! After all, it will only be around until maybe next June?

To ask a question in this forum, send an email to stelmoresfire@charter.net.

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