Winter is here and even though we live in Texas, we still experience frigid temperatures which can be hazardous to anyone's health. Hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature, is a dangerous condition that can occur when a person is exposed to extremely cold temperatures.
What is Hypothermia?
Hypothermia is caused by continuous and lengthy exposure to very cold temperatures. When exposed to cold temperatures, the human body begins to lose heat faster than it’s produced. This exposure will eventually use up your body’s stored energy, which leads to lower body temperature.
Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia especially dangerous, because a person may not know that it’s happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.
While hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water. Some warning signs of hypothermia include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, and drowsiness. Taking a first aid and emergency resuscitation (CPR) course is a good way to prepare for cold-weather health problems. Taking preventive action is your best defense against having to deal with extreme cold-weather conditions. By preparing your home and car in advance for winter emergencies, and by observing safety precautions during times of extremely cold weather, you can reduce the risk of weather-related health problems. Happy Holidays and take care and be safe this Holiday Season.
Dr. Tracy A. Jones is an American Heart Association, ASHI, and American Red Cross Master Program Trainer, Instructor, & AHA Faculty Member located in San Antonio, Texas.