Stay Safe in Cold Weather


Older adults can lose body heat fast—faster than when they were young. A big chill can turn into a dangerous problem before an older person even knows what’s happening. Doctors call this serious problem hypothermia (hi-po-ther-mee-uh).

Hypothermia is what happens when your body temperature gets very low. For an older person, a body temperature colder than 95 degrees can cause many health problems such as a heart attack, kidney problems, liver damage, or worse.

Being outside in the cold, or even being in a very cold house, can lead to hypothermia. You can take steps to lower your chance of getting hypothermia.

Tips for keeping warm inside:

  • Set your heat at 68 degrees or higher. To save on heating bills, close off rooms you are not using.
  • To keep warm at home, wear long johns under your clothes. Throw a blanket over your legs. Wear socks and slippers.
  • When you go to sleep, wear long johns under your pajamas, and use extra covers. Wear a cap or hat.
  • Ask family or friends to check on you during cold weather.

Bundle up on windy, cool days

A high wind can quickly lower your body temperature. Check the weather forecast for windy and cold days. On those days, try to stay inside or in a warm place. If you have to go out, wear warm clothes.

 

Tips for bundling up:

  • Dress for the weather if you have to go out on chilly, cold, or damp days.
  • Wear loose layers of clothing. The air between the layers helps to keep you warm.
  • Put on a hat and scarf. You lose a lot of body heat when your head and neck are uncovered.
  • Wear a waterproof coat or jacket if it’s snowy.

 

 

 

Warning signs of hypothermia

Early signs of hypothermia:

  • cold feet and hands
  • puffy or swollen face
  • pale skin
  • shivering (in some cases the person with hypothermia does not shiver)
  • slower than normal speech or slurring words
  • acting sleepy
  • being angry or confused
  • moving slowly, trouble walking, or being clumsy
  • stiff and jerky arm or leg movements
  • slow heartbeat
  • slow, shallow breathing
  • blacking out or losing consciousness

Later signs of hypothermia:

Call 911 right away if you think someone has warning signs of hypothermia.

Tips for what to do after you call 911

  • Wrap the person in a warm blanket.
  • Do not rub the person’s legs or arms.
  • Do not try to warm the person in a bath.
  • Do not use a heating pad.

 

Source: http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/stay-safe-cold-weather-learn-why-you-need-stay-warm-when-its-cold