Health Topics

ER Health Topics

Winter Weather Precautions

Exposure to cold temperatures even for a short amount of time can lower your body temperature. A Core temperature of <35 C (95 F) will show signs and symptoms that progressively worsen.

  • Poor Judgement
  • Apathy/Drowsiness
  • Impaired Coordination
  • Problems Speaking
  • Shivering

If body temperature falls below 32.2 C (90 F), the body’s self-warming mechanisms fail. Heartbeat and blood pressure diminish drastically. Cardiac irregularities also may occur. If someone has been over-exposed to the cold…

  • Rewarm slowly
  • Remove any wet clothing
  • Provide warm environment
  • Warm beverages if awake
  • Do not put heat directly to skin/layers
  • Loosen constrictive clothing
  • Seek medical help for any symptoms


Frostbite is trauma from exposure to freezing temperatures that actually causes tissue damage. The body parts most commonly affected are the feet, hands, nose and ears. The frozen part may be hard, cold, insensitive to touch and appear white or mottled blue.

The goal of emergency treatment is to restore normal temperature and prevent further damage to the tissues. You can Expect:
  • No walking if lower extremities involved
  • Whirlpool for warming
  • Pain medications (thawing can be very painful)
  • Sterile gauze dressings
  • Fluids for dehydration
  • Reverse isolation to minimize infection
  • Possible surgical intervention to promote movement and circulation
  • Hourly active motion
  • Prohibit use of tobacco
  • Tetanus vaccination

Prepare Your Car For Winter

Planning in advance for an emergency can keep an unfortunate situation from becoming a complete disaster. If you are traveling let someone know your destination and approximate time of arrival. Be aware of winter advisories from the national weather service.

Tips For Winter Driving Safety

  • Maintain antifreeze levels
  • Use “wintertime” windshield washer fluid
  • Replace worn tires and keep properly inflated
  • Plan for longer driving times — Don’t hurry
  • Keep gas tanks full (avoids ice build up in lines)
  • Blankets
  • Extra clothing
  • First aid kit
  • Windshield scraper
  • Booster cables
  • Road maps
  • Compass
  • Tool Kit
  • Paper Towels
  • Bag of sand or cat litter
  • Collapsible shovel
  • High calorie canned or dried foods
  • Flash light/batteries
  • Brightly colored cloth
  • Canned air with sealant for tire repair
  • Can and matches for melting snow

If You Do Get Stranded

Staying with your vehicle is often the safest choice. Poor visibility and icy conditions can make walking very dangerous.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna as a signal to rescuers.
  • Move anything you need from the trunk to the passenger area.
  • Wrap your entire body, including your head, in extra clothing, blankets or newspapers.
  • Stay awake. You will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems.
  • Run the motor and heater for about 10 minutes per hour.
  • Open one window slightly to let in air.
  • Make sure no snow is blocking the exhaust pipe, this reduces the risk of carbon monozide poisoning.
  • Keep your arms and legs moving to improve your circulation and stay warmer.
  • Do not eat unmelted snow because it will lower your body temperature.

Safe Snow Shoveling

Snow shoveling is a natural part of winter in Ohio, but can be problematic if some precautions are not taken.
  • Heart attacks can occur from overexertion
  • Falls from slippery surfaces
  • Muscle strains and sprains
  • Complications from hypothermia
A few ways you can avoid major problems is to stop if you have any:
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Arm numbness or tingling
  • Neck or jaw pain
Look for ways to cut your workload
  • Divide up large jobs
  • Lift with your legs, not your back
  • Use a lightweight shovel
  • Keep rock salt handy to minimize buildup
Listen to your body
  • Alternative to work with periods of rest
  • Dress warmly but avoid constrictive clothing
  • Wear appropriate footwear