Bitter cold puts some at risk

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – With the pre-winter child descending on the Valley, many local health care providers are urging residents to be careful when they go out and make sure they take extra precautions to battle the bitter cold temperatures.

Doctors manning the emergency room at Northside Medical Center in Youngstown said they have seen some patients who have suffered injuries from slips and falls and minor vehicle accidents, but haven’t yet treated anyone suffering from the elements.

Record low temperatures are forecast for Tuesday night which could put some, especially those that must work outside, at risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control, cold stress is commonly suffered by those who have to stay outside for extended lengths of time. Many may not even realize they are experiencing the effects of hypothermia until it is too late.

“And it is very quick, within minutes for exposed skin when it is windy,” said Dr. Timothy Niemi, Northside emergency room physician. “When you deal with these cold temperatures, wind can magnify the temperature very, very quickly.”

Symptoms of hypothermia can vary depending on how long you have been exposed to the cold temperatures.

Early Symptoms

  • Shivering
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of coordination
  • Confusion and disorientation

Late Symptoms

  • No shivering
  • Blue skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Slowed pulse and breathing
  • Loss of consciousness

First Aid

Take the following steps to treat a worker with hypothermia:

  • Alert the supervisor and request medical assistance.
  • Move the victim into a warm room or shelter.
  • Remove their wet clothing.
  • Warm the center of their body first-chest, neck, head, and groin-using an electric blanket, if available; or use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.
  • Warm beverages may help increase the body temperature, but do not give alcoholic beverages. Do not try to give beverages to an unconscious person.
  • After their body temperature has increased, keep the victim dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck.
  • If victim has no pulse, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

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