Thursday, November 18, 2010

Watch out Buffalo... here comes winter!

The fond memories I have of spending my winters here in Buffalo generally end with having a bright red nose, wind-nipped fingers, snow-filled shoes and a huge smile from an afternoon filled with sledding, ice skating and gallivanting through the park while dodging snow balls.  But in a city where temperatures drop and the wind always seems to find you through even your heaviest coat, scarf, gloves and hat, it’s important to know your limit when outdoors.  Frostbite and hypothermia are common in our climate, and we all need to be prepared when we encounter them:
FROSTBITE is the freezing of a specific body part.  It usually affects extremities like your fingers, toes, nose and earlobes.  If you or someone you know thinks they have frostbite, here are some symptoms you should check for, and what to do if you spot them:      

  • Symptoms
    • Lack of feeling in the affected area
    • Skin that appears waxy and is cold to the touch
    • Discoloration of the skin (flushed, white, gray, yellow or blue)
  • What NOT to do
    • Do not rub the affected area
  • What to do
    • Get to a warm place
    • Place affected area in warm water until skin begins to redden and warm
    • Seek professional care as soon as possible    
HYPOTHERMIA is the cooling of the body caused by the failure of the body's warming system.  It can be life threatening so be sure to call 9-1-1! 
  • Symptoms
    • Shivering
    • Numbness
    • A glassy stare
    • Weakness
    • Loss of consciousness
  • What to do
    • Call 9-1-1
    • Get to a warm place
    • Monitor breathing and circulation
      • Give rescue breathing and CPR if needed
    • Remove any wet clothing
    • Warm the person slowly with blankets and dry clothing
    • Wait for the EMT to arrive
Winter can be a harsh season in Buffalo, but if we all make sure we are Red Cross Ready we can enjoy the fun activities winter’s snow and cold weather offer! 
For more information concerning frostbite and hypothermia, click here.

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