CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) — Winter in the Northeast includes periods of cold weather. Exposure to cold can cause frostbite or hypothermia and has the potential to become life-threatening.

Although anyone can suffer from cold-related health issues, some people are at greater risk than others, such as:

  • Older adults
  • Young children
  • Those who are sick
  • Those without adequate shelter

A Wind Chill Advisory is in effect for all of western Massachusetts from midnight tonight until noon Friday. Wind chills as low as -20 degrees are possible overnight through Friday morning.

  • Wind Chill Advisory: Windchill index between -15°F and -24°F for at least three hours.
  • Wind Chill Warning: Windchill index below -25°F for at least three hours.

What to look for in cold-related illnesses

The cold weather can cause cold-related illness, including:

  • Frostbite is the freezing of the skin and body tissue.
    • Symptoms: Loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, earlobes, face, and the tip of the nose.
    • Treatment: Get the victim into a warm location. Cover exposed skin, but do not rub the affected area. Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Hypothermia is abnormally low body temperature and is life-threatening.
    • Symptoms: Shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, and slurred speech.
    • Treatment: If symptoms of hypothermia are detected take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95°, seek medical attention immediately. Get the victim to a warm location. Remove wet clothing. Warm the center of the body first by wrapping the person in blankets or putting on dry clothing. Give them warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the person is conscious.