Don’t be too cool to prepare for cold snap

Published 10:31 pm Tuesday, January 5, 2010

There are two kinds of cold during the winter. There is the expected drop in temperature that automatically comes with the shifting seasons, and then there are those nights when the temperature plummets to extreme lows.

The National Weather Service forecast shows lows in the ‘20s tonight, which is already below freezing.

The low will drop to the teens Thursday and Friday night and possibly reach single digits by Saturday night.

With these kinds of temperatures, we should take precautions.

Most importantly, babies and the elderly are vulnerable to extreme cold weather because their bodies do not adapt as well as others do.

Experts remind us to check on elderly neighbors and relatives during extreme cold weather.

The risk of hypothermia, or a lowering of the body’s core temperature, can become greater due to a disorder that reduces the body’s heat production. Certain drugs can also increase the risk.

The Alabama Department of Public Health gives us a few tips for surviving and helping others survive the cold weather. Be sure to observe the following:

Dress warmly in layers of clothing and wear fabric that remains warm even when wet, such as wool.

Wear wind- and water-proof clothing.

Wear a warm hat and gloves. An unprotected head may lose up to half of the body’s total heat production at 40 degrees F.

Head for shelter if you get wet or cold.

Do not drink alcohol while in the cold. It causes the body to lose heat faster.

If you suspect someone has hypothermia, follow these steps until emergency medical help arrives:

Get the victim out of the wind and rain

Remove wet clothing and replace it with dry or wool clothing, if possible.

Use body heat to warm the victim. If several people are with you, have everyone huddle around the victim.

If the victim is conscious, have him drink warm fluids, such as sweetened tea, broth or juice, eat candy and other quick-energy foods. Do not allow the victim to drink alcoholic beverages in any circumstance.