As we move into the colder months of the year there is something we all need to think about. That is being prepared for the weather outside. The days of just grabbing a jacket and running outside are quickly coming to an end.
Hypothermia can set in after a short period of time in below-freezing temperatures while being wet. To prevent this if you do get wet you need to immediately get out of your wet clothing and get to a warm location. If symptoms persist seek medical aid.
Frostbite can occur in 15 minutes or less at wind chill values of 18 below zero or lower. Fingers, toes, earlobes, and the tip of the nose are the most vulnerable parts of the body to frostbite.
Trench foot, also known as immersion foot, is an injury of the feet resulting from prolonged exposure to wet and cold conditions. Trench foot can occur at temperatures as high as 60 degrees F if the feet are constantly wet. Injury occurs because wet feet lose heat 25 times faster than dry feet. Therefore, to prevent heat loss, the body constricts blood vessels to shut down circulation in the feet. Skin tissue begins to die because of a lack of oxygen and nutrients and due to the buildup of toxic products.
Chilblains are caused by the repeated exposure of skin to temperatures just above freezing to as high as 60 degrees F. Cold exposure causes damage to the capillary beds (groups of small blood vessels) in the skin. This damage is permanent, and the redness and itching will return with additional exposure. The redness and itching typically occur on cheeks, ears, fingers, and toes.
All of this information comes directly from the CDC website. It is imperative that you are prepared with the proper clothing in below-freezing temperatures. If you believe you have experienced any of these immediately seek medical care.
Everything that you need to keep warm is readily available at local stores such as Walmart or other department stores. If you need assistance in acquiring cold weather clothing, you can also go to places such as the Ministerial Alliance or several local churches and the VFW as they can help provide assistance in acquiring you some protective clothing and maybe somewhere warm to sleep. They all have great programs to help folks. Long story short, please be prepared for the weather and environment that you will be in.