A high of 10 degrees will feel, well, downright balmy when bitter cold descends upon the upper Midwest in the coming days. So, in the spirit of feeling things (like our body parts during a polar plunge), let’s review some basic cold weather First Aid tips that you can find in the free American Red Cross First Aid App.
Frostbite happens when a part of your body gets frozen. It usually happens to parts of your body that may be hard to cover up, like your ears and nose, cheeks and chin, and fingers and toes. Signs of frostbite include first pain, and then numbness or loss of feeling, and loss of skin color. If you feel pain or numbness anywhere on your skin while you’re out in the cold, go inside immediately. Once inside, gently warm fingers and toes, such as with warm water. When in doubt, call 9-1-1 to get medical help.
Hypothermia happens when the body is losing heat faster than it can make heat. It’s like the opposite of having a fever, but just as dangerous. Shivering is one of the first signs of hypothermia. Other signs include confusion, drowsiness, and slurred speech. If you start shivering outside in the cold or feel drowsy, go inside immediately and warm up. Once inside, take off any wet clothes and put on dry ones. Keep the body as warm as possible with blankets and jackets. Drink warm beverages, and stay warm and dry. When in doubt, call 9-1-1 to get medical help.
You can find more helpful and lifesaving information on the Red Cross First Aid mobile app. Download it now by texting “GETFIRST” to 90999. And, remember pets during severe cold. Text “GETPET” to 90999 to download the Red Cross free Pet First Aid mobile app. Or, click here to find all of the Red Cross apps.
THE COLD IS COMING! THE COLD IS COMING! THE COLD IS COMING! By now perhaps you’ve heard: we’re soon to have the coldest weather that we’ve had in Minnesota during the past FOUR years. Rather than FREAKING OUT (as some of us are doing), we asked Minnesota winter adventurer Linda Newman to provide us with tips for staying warm outside when it’s -512 degrees. (Okay, FREAK OUT person is exaggerating. How about BELOW ZERO? It probably feels the same.)
Cold weather tips from someone who knows (and is smart because she has fluffy warm dogs, too):
Dress in warm layers. Be prepared. You can’t put on what you don’t have but you can take off a layer. Put a water and windproof outer layer over all under layers that is breathable.
NO cotton. Cotton absorbs moisture and holds it close to your skin, keeping you damp and cold.
Keep moving. Even boots rated for 100 below temperatures won’t keep your feet warm if you’re standing still for too long.
No alcohol. Alcohol actually dehydrates you, making you cold.
Stay hydrated. Keep a thermos handy filled with your favorite warm, non alcoholic beverage.
Chemical foot warmers and hand warmers are your friends!
Cold feet and hands. If you want to get warmth to your extremities, you must get the blood flowing to them. Clap your hands together. Make the motion of throwing a ball, rotating your arm from your shoulder, getting the blood directly to your hands. Stomp your feet.
Having a hood with a ruff of some type does help keep your face warmer from wind.
Windproof is the word. Fleece gloves without this feature are cold, cold, cold! A windproof neck gaiter is also so nice!
Don’t suffer in silence. If you’re cold, go get warm. Frostbite is no fun.
Thank you, Linda (and Arrow), for sharing your winter weather wisdom with us. We hope that you’re toasty warm during the coming days. Meanwhile, everyone can download the American Red Cross free mobile First Aid app and learn what to do in case of frostbite, hypothermia and other emergencies. (Now, back now to FREAKING OUT!)