2014-01-10 / Community

Chilled To The Bone

Shoveling snow can be a pain in the back. Or glistening icicles and a light dusting can be beautiful.

But this or any year’s bone crunching, record setting cold temperatures can be dangerous or even deadly.

The New York City Office Of Emergency Management has a few things to say for people exposed to this winter’s chill either outdoors or in.

OEM says infants, seniors, and people with paralysis or neuropathy are at increased risk of hypothermia and frostbite.

Check on friends, relatives, and neighbors who may need assistance to ensure they are adequately protected from the cold.

If you identify someone on the street who you believe needs assistance, call 311 and ask for the Mobile Outreach Response Team.

The Department of Homeless Services will send an outreach team to the location to assess the individual’s condition and take appropriate action.

Recognize symptoms of cold weather illnesses such as frostbite and hypothermia.

Hypothermia: symptoms include slurred speech, sluggishness, confusion, dizziness, shallow breathing, unusual behavior, and slow, irregular heartbeat. Frostbite: symptoms include gray, white or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, and waxy feeling skin.

If you suspect a person is suffering from frostbite or hypothermia, bring him or her someplace warm and seek medical help immediately or call 911.

If medical help is unavailable, re-warm the person, starting at the core of their body. Warming arms and legs first can increase circulation of cold blood to the heart, which can lead to heart failure. Use a blanket, or if necessary, your own body heat to warm the person.

Finally do not give a person suffering frostbite or hypothermia alcohol or caffeine, both of which can worsen the condition. Instead, give the patient a cup of warm broth.

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