Avoid hypothermia

HealthBeat

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The winter storm that blew through KELOLAND over the weekend left a lot for people to clean up.

But when temps are as cold as they’ve been, cleaning up can be dangerous.

This recent round of winter weather in KELOLAND has left roads and sidewalks covered with snow

Gary Vilhauer is out snow blowing for the day. He says he planned ahead in order to stay warm.

“I got hand warmers on, toe warmers on, without those it’d be a little difficult,” Vilhauer said.

And taking those extra precautions is important when temps drop below zero.

Dr. Anthony Pfeiffer says cold weather like we’ve been experiencing is dangerous.

“Hypothermia occurs when your core body temperature is less than 95 degrees and typically it’s caused by exposure to cold and wind,” Pfeiffer said.

And you don’t have to be outdoors for an extended period of time for hypothermia to develop.

Instead, he says it can set in in less than an hour.

“As cold as it’s been over the last few days with sub zero temperatures, anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes you can get hypothermia or frostbite, ” Pfeiffer said.

He says people who are intoxicated, homeless, or someone who has fallen and can’t get up is at a higher risk of developing hypothermia.

Doctors say one of the first symptoms that will develop with hypothermia is shivering.

Pfeiffer says shivering can progress to confusion– and that’s when it’s time to see a doctor.

“If you have some shivering but you’re otherwise doing well you can be treated at home, but anything beyond that where you’re having confusion or anymore severe symptoms you would definitely need to be seen in an emergency room,” Pfeiffer said.

To avoid a trip to the ER, he says remove yourself from the cold environment as soon as you can.

“Clothing that’s wet or cold it’s best to remove that, get dried off put on warm clothing and warm blankets,” Pfeiffer said.

If you’re not sure if you need to be seen by a doctor for hypothermia, you can call the after hours nurses line, where a nurse can assess your symptoms and answer questions.

For more information, click here.

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