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Extreme Cold

Exposure to cold can cause frostbite or hypothermia and become life-threatening. Infants and elderly prople are most susceptible. Freezing temperatures can cause severe damage to persons and property. Pipes may freeze and burst in homes that are poorly insulated or without heat. Here in the north, extreme cold means temperatures well below zero.

Conditions that May Result from Extreme Cold
Condition Symptoms First Aid Response
  • Shivering
  • Slurred speach or mumbling
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Clumsiness or lack of coordinationg
  • Drowsiness or very low energy
  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Bright res, cold skin (in infants)
  • Danger! Call 9-1-1
  • Move out of the cold
  • Remove wet clothing
  • Cover the person with blankets
  • Watch breathing
  • Don't apply direct heat
  • Cold skin and a prickling feeling
  • Numbness
  • Red, white, bluish-white or grayish-yellow skin
  • Hard or waxy-looking skin
  • Clumsiness due to joint and muscle stiffness
  • Blistering after rewarming, in severe cases
  • Protect the affected area from further cold
  • Don't walk on frostbitten feet
  • Seek medical help if you suspect deep frostbite or there is a loss of senstation to the affected area


Take Action Before a Cold Emergency:

Preparing for extreme cold can protest your family. There are steps you can take to make your home a better place to stay during periods of extreme cold.

Dress for the Cold:

Wear layers of loose-fitting and lightweight clothing. Trapped air between the layers will insulate you.

  • If doing strenuous outdoor activities, avoid wearing cotton.¬†Once wet, cotton takes a long time to dry
    and will sap your heat. Use synthetic fabrics that wick moisture from your skin and dry quickly.
  • Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent, and hooded.
  • Wear a hat, because 40%of your body heat can be lost from your head.
  • Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
  • Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves.
  • Try to stay dry and out of the wind.

When Traveling:

Always prepare for the worst!

  • Your vehicle's winter survival kit should include warm clothes, boots, blankets, flashlight with extra batteries, candy bars or ceral bars.
  • Always carry a charged cell phone and tell others of your travel plans.

Additional Resources:

Extreme Cold Key Terms
Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposures to very cold temperatures. When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it's produced. Lengthy exposures will eventually use up your body's stored energy, which leads to lower body temperature.
Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. Frostbite is most common on the fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks and chin. Exposed skin in cold, windy weather is most vulnerable to frostbite, but frostbite can occur on skin covered by gloves or other clothing.

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