Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Frigid Temperatures to Ice Over Region

The weather forecast for the remaining week looks cold--extremely cold-- with highs Thursday and Friday's reaching only the single digits. With these low temperatures comes the risk of cold-related injury including frostbite and hypothermia. Charissa Pacella, Chief of Emergency Services at UPMC Presbyterian, says those most at risk for hypothermia are infants and the elderly, and that children are most at risk for frostbite. The Allegheny County Health Department says that at a windchilld of -19 degrees--which is what the forecast for Pittsburgh predicts--frostbite can set in in just 30 minutes. The following are tips for avoiding cold-related injury:

-Dress in layers. Wear a hat, scarf, boots and mittens. 50 percent of your body's heat can be lost through the head, so it is very important to wear a warm hat.
-Cover as much skin as possible to avoid frostbite. Frostbite often occurs when affected extremities turn numb. If you feel parts of your body going numb from the cold, seek shelter immediately.
-Eat well, but don't consume alcohol. Alcohol, as well as certain medications, can reduce a person's sensitivity to cold and reduce their ability to shiver, the body's natural method for keeping warm.
-And finally, limit time spent outside. The less time spent in freezing temperatures, the less opportunity for cold-related injury.

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