SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On Wednesday, Schenectady County issued a Code Blue urging residents to find shelter due to frigid overnight temperatures. Simultaneously, the Schenectady County Office of Emergency Management provided safety tips and precautions to follow as temperatures continue to decline in the coming weeks.
For those heading outdoors, officials suggest wearing warm, dry clothing and keeping fingertips, earlobes, and noses covered. Most heat is lost through the head, so wearing a hat, hood, or scarf can be beneficial. A key indicator that your body is losing heat is if you begin to shiver.
Prolonged exposure to cold can lead to hypothermia, frostbite, and the exacerbation of chronic heart and lung conditions. Early signs of hypothermia include shivering, dizziness, trouble speaking, and lack of coordination. Moderate to severe signs include sluggishness, drowsiness, unusual behavior, confusion, and shallow breathing.
Frostbite affects exposed areas, including fingers, toes, ears, and parts of the face. If actions are not taken, frostbite can lead to serious injury. Redness and pain are early signs of frostbite. Those symptoms then lead to numbness or skin appearing pale and firm.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises you to seek medical attention if you notice signs of hypothermia or frostbite. In a scenario where you cannot get medical help right away, the CDC recommends the following tips:
- Get the person into a warm room or shelter.
- Remove any wet clothing the person is wearing.
- Warm the center of the person’s body—chest, neck, head, and groin—using an electric blanket, if available. You can also use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.
- Warm drinks can help increase body temperature but do not give alcoholic drinks. Do not try to give beverages to an unconscious person.
- After body temperature has increased, keep the person dry and wrap their body, including their head and neck, in a warm blanket.
- Get the person proper medical attention as soon as possible.
The CDC also suggests preparing your home and car before winter storms or emergencies. Being prepared can reduce the risk of developing health problems related to cold weather.