Tips for Surviving the Winter Weather

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It’s January and low temperatures are blasting cities worldwide! The single digits are reaching cities that have never experienced winter weather in the past.

Along with the cold temperatures, comes cold related illnesses, most common being hyperthermia and frost bite which within minutes of exposure can cause major irreversible damage and even death. Are you taking all precautions to keep warm?  Most won’t recognize the symptom until the damage has been done and at that point it’s just too late. Take precautions and educate yourself.  Who knows perhaps you’ll even save a life!

The low temperature is not the only factor we must consider when watching the weather channel in the morning and preparing for the day. It’s been advised that paying attention to the wind chill is just as crucial and we need to consider it as well.  The wind chill can make a low temperature feel even lower.  It’s not something we want to hear, but it’s very much true.

Have you ever wondered how long it takes for hyperthermia and frost bite to actually set in?  The chart below shows how drastically the temperature can decrease once affected by the wind chill and how quickly it affects your body.

Are you aware of what your skin will look like when frost bite starts? Well, the answer will surprise you!  According to National Safety Council, here are some symptoms of frost bite and hyperthermia:

Frostbite Symptoms:

Frostbite usually affects the hands and the feet and can be noticed if you’re looking for the symptoms.  Remember, don’t take your other body parts for granted like the tip of your nose and your earlobes.

Exposure to cold reduces blood flow to the skin’s surface.  The symptoms of frost bite can be characterized by white, waxy, or grayish-yellow patches on the affected areas.  Blister like.

The skin feels cold and numb and the surface will be stiff but underlying tissue feels soft.

What to do when frostbite starts:

Take the victim inside immediately if possible and remove any wet clothing and jewelry that maybe affecting the area.

Place dry, sterile gauze between toes and fingers to absorb moisture and to keep them from sticking together.

Slightly elevate the affected part to reduce pain and swelling.

If you are more than one hour from a medical facility and you have warm water, place the frostbitten part in the water (100 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit). If you do not have a thermometer, test the water first to see if it is warm, not hot.

Rewarming usually takes 20 to 45 minutes or until tissues soften.

Hyperthermia Symptoms:

Hypothermia occurs when the body’s temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit which can happen quickly.

Symptoms of this condition include change in mental status, uncontrollable shivering, cool abdomen and a low core body temperature.

If the hyperthermia is severe, it may produce rigid muscles, dark and puffy skin, irregular heart and respiratory rates, and unconsciousness.

What to do when hyperthermia begins:

Call for help immediately.

Protect the victim from further heat loss by bringing them into a warm place if possible.

Replace the victims clothing to dry clothing immediately.

Add insulation if you can find any around you quickly like blankets, pillows, towels or newspapers beneath and around the victim. Make sure to cover the victims head.

Keep the patient in a flat position.

It’s important to remember to handle the patient delicately because rough handling can cause him or her to go into cardiac arrest.

If you are trained, give CPR if necessary.

If you’re lucky enough to reside on a waterfront property, it definitely has its advantages. However, when winter falls upon us, those advantages can sometimes turn into disadvantages.  It is common knowledge that the temperature tends to be colder by the water so do dress for the occasion.  Layers, layers and more layers is what I say.

What if you live by a lake?  A lake that your kids use to skate with their friends during those cold winter days that makes it all possible.  Have fun but always have a plan! Here are some do and don’t to help you enjoy your winter.


Avoid the area if at all possible and skate in a safe, approved skating rink.

If helping a friend, never move in closer to help them on foot no matter what.  Stay on shore because you’re risking you both falling in.  Find rope or cables and wrap around wrist, don’t put another life at danger, be smart and don’t panic.

Encourage your children to stay off the ice completely, but when playing on ice, bring a whistle.  They only have minutes and it can bring attention to them very quickly.  Others will notice that someone fell in and get help quickly.  A small item such as a whistle that most think is silly can save your child’s life.

Invest in a float coat that looks like ski jacket but will help keep you floating and head above water. That’s their exact purpose and what they were designed to do.


Look for thin ice in your town or around your property.  According to statistics, kids and pets are the ones most at danger.  They never expect the ice to break.  Besides, they’ve been doing it for years and nothing has ever happened in the past.  With climate change playing such a major role, we can never be too careful now. Bringing knowledge into their lives early will prevent any accidents in the future.

Making a quick decision could be a difference between life and death so stay focused as much as you can.  Focus on what you need to do because your time is ticking so react quickly.  Have a plan ahead of time.  If you’re under ice, it literally takes minutes before hyperthermia sets in.

Be prepared during the cold days when walking or playing outside.  Pay attention to your surrounding and who’s around you.

If you should fall in, here are some crucial steps you should take immediately.

These tips are from professional emergency divers and not the advice of


Once in water, try to completely cover your mouth and nose with your hands until your face is completely out.  This must be done immediately.

Carry an ice pick if allowing your children to go skating behind your home in a lake that hasn’t been considered safe by the county.  Unfortunately, that’s a risk most parents take.  If trapped under ice, the ice pick will help them and you to climb out of water.

Once you’ve manage to get a portion of your body out of the water, roll away, do not walk or you’re risking another crack in the ice, dropping you into the water once again.

Even if you reside in the city and you’re miles away from water, doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be affected by the cold and experience the same symptoms.  Those living in the city, still need to take the same precautions, so be smart and read up on what your responsibility as apparent includes.

Here are some helpful tips:

Wear lots and lots of layers and don’t be shy!

Wear mittens instead of gloves, it will keep your hands warmer.

Eating a well-balanced meal before leaving is extremely beneficial.  Not only will it give you the fuel to take charge of your day, but it will fuel your body as well to keep warm.

Drink water! Warm liquid is a great way to start the day, but keep yourself hydrated throughout the day by drinking warm drinks, but make sure they’re non-alcoholic, caffeine-free liquids so you can maintain fluid levels.

Whatever you do, avoid becoming wet at all costs, as wet clothing loses 90 percent of its insulating value.

We hope these tips are helpful and will help you stay warm today and rest of the winter to come!

By: Ida L


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