Because it may not 'look' cold, or 'feel' cold, or you do not see any snow
or ice, does not mean that it would be in order to step outside in just a jacket! Lack of proper clothing (many layers
preferred to one or two) may lead to many cold related ailments, such as strokes and heart attacks - whatever age you may
When the weather gets cold, elders
especially may develop a reduction in their body temperature more easily as a result of decreased ability in temperature control
and decrease in subcutaneous fat. Excessive drop in body temperature can lead to hypothermia. Elders with chronic illnesses,
such as chronic respiratory diseases or asthma, are also vulnerable to disease deterioration in cold weather.
on adequate clothing. Wear several layers of not too tight or too bulky clothing. Always wear a hat and gloves, since ears
and fingertips as well as noses are extremely susceptible to frost nip and frost bite.
hot and easily digestible food and beverages with higher calories, like hot milk, soup, noodles and rice. Remember, alcohol
actually accelerates the loss of body heat because it dilates blood vessels, so avoid alcoholic beverages.
the home environment warm but well ventilated. Do not overload electricity supply.
indoors or in places with sunlight. Continue with usual daily activities, but do more exercise to generate heat, improve blood
circulation, and maintain flexibility of joints.
care and concern for the elderly. If you happen to know of a single elder living alone or with chronic illnesses, give him/her
a call or pay a visit.
off the ice. Determining the strength of ice is extremely difficult. Ice must be at least six inches thick to maintain the
weight of a person and it takes weeks of freezing to get to that thickness.
What is hypothermia?
Hypothermia is defined as a fall in the
core body temperature to below 35 degrees C (95 degrees F). Factors such as diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, use of hypnotics
and alcohol predispose to the development of hypothermia. Anyone suspected to be suffering from hypothermia should be taken
to see the doctor or taken to the hospital right away.
- (body temp 90-95 degrees) The victim
will have cold skin, especially of the hands and feet, pallor, excessive shivering, unsteady gait, difficulty in speaking
or slurred speech and confusion. Some elders may not have the shivering response.
- (85-90 degrees) As the body temperature
drops, victims become stuporous. Moderate hypothermia is characterized by loss of shivering, muscle rigidity, slowing down
of heart beat, loss of voluntary movement and gradual loss of consciousness.
- (less than 78 degrees) Victims become
unresponsive with irregular heart beat, fall in blood pressure, total loss of consciousness and cardiac arrest.
Who is most susceptible?
old - May be unaware of their limitations.
Due to limited mobility may be forced to spend increased amount of time exposed to the cold weather due to slow ambulation.
young - Thermoregulatory system is still
immature. Babies rely on adults for warmth.
- Due to illness or injury can't remove
themselves from the cold source.
indoors and dress warmly.
the thermostat to 65 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night. Close off unused rooms.
the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags.
open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was
most likely to penetrate).
to the radio or television to get the latest information.
need to be extra careful when using supplemental heating units. Make sure that all-combustible materials such as drapes or
chairs are at least three feet away from any heating unit. Avoid using flammable liquids to start fireplaces and do not leave
a fireplace unattended. Most importantly, check your smoke detector to make sure it is working properly
loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing. Layers can be removed to prevent perspiration and chill. Outer garments should
be tightly woven and water repellent. Mittens are warmer than gloves, due to the fact that fingers generate warmth when they
touch each other.
Change wet clothing frequently to prevent
a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly
Useful related web links
Help The Aged - UK
UK age concern Cold weather alert
American Red cross - services
FEMA - Winter preparation
World meteorological Organisation - Severe weather information centre