Montreal is one of the coldest cities in the world.
Winter temperature paired with wind can cause severe injuries and even death. Frostbite injuries can lead to amputations. Hypothermia, the most serious of cold weather complications can lead to brain damage and then death. Most susceptible to these cold weather problems are the elderly, children, the homeless, outdoor workers and sport enthusiasts.
The CPR Instructor’s Network would like to offer a few tips to prevent the cold weather in becoming a life-threatening event:
·Wear a hat - up to 40 per cent of body heat loss can occur through the head
·Wear gloves or mittens
·Wear a scarf to protect the chin, lips and cheeks - all are extremely susceptible to cold weather injuries.
·Drink warm fluids, but no alcohol. Alcohol promotes other cold weather injuries.
·If you start to sweat, cool off a little. Wet clothes will also encourage other cold weather injuries.
·Wear clothes in layers
Inner Layer (closest to the skin) - should have "wicking" properties to move any moisture away from the skin
Middle Layer - should be the insulating layer to prevent loss of your body heat while keeping the cold outside air away
Outer Layer - should be the "windbreaking" layer to reduce the chances of cold air reaching the insulating layer
Always be on the lookout for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
The months of December, January and February are the coldest months of the Montreal winter and it's difficult to avoid the cold weather. Frostbite is defined as damage of the skin from exposure to cold weather. The CPR instructor’s Network reminds everyone that cold that extremely cold weather can lead to serious complications, the worst being amputation. Injuries from frostbite are extremely common yet extremely preventable.
Frostbite mostly affects areas where the circulation is poor. Since cold weather will cause the body to take preventive measures by constricting (making smaller) the blood vessel, this opens the door to frostbite injuries.
Look for the 4 "P"s of frostbite.
1.Pink - affected areas will be reddish in colour. This is the first sign of frostbite
2.Pain - affected areas will become painful
3.Patches - white, waxy feeling patches show up - skin is dying
4.Pricklies - the areas will then feel numb
Tips to prevent frostbite.
ØGet to a warm area before frostbite sets in. If it's too cold outside, consider staying indoors.
ØKeep extra mittens and gloves in the car, house or school bag.
ØWear larger sized mittens over your gloves.
ØWear a scarf to protect the chin, lips and cheeks. They are all extremely susceptible to frostbite.
ØWear two pairs of socks - wool if possible
ØKeep feet warm and dry
ØDo not drink alcohol. Alcohol narrows blood vessels, which promotes frostbite and then hypothermia
Should frostbite set-in...
üDo not rub or massage affected areas. It may cause more damage.
üNOT HOT - warm up the area slowly. Use a warm compresses or your own body heat to re-warm the area. Underarms are a good place.
üIf toes or feet are frostbitten, try not to walk on them.
üSeek immediate medical attention if you see white or grey coloured patches or if the area is numb.
Whenever the body's normal temperature becomes too low, hypothermia (hypo=low and thermia=temperature) occurs and will starve the brain of much needed oxygen. During the hot or cold weather months, remember that finding warmth can be the key to survival. Hypothermia can occur even during the hot days of July. Swimming in cold water for a long period of time can induce hypothermia even in the hottest months of the year.
Who is at Risk?
There are three groups that are most susceptible to hypothermia.
·The elderly - with inadequate clothing, food (food sustains normal body temperature) or heat
·Babies - sleeping in cold rooms or inappropriate clothing for the outdoors
·Homeless - lack of shelter, proper clothing and food
·Sport Enthusiasts - hikers, skiers
·Workers - people who work outdoors
Signs of Hypothermia
Look for the "UMBLES" from people affected by cold temperatures;
vA person who mumbles
vA person who stumbles
vA person who fumbles objects
For infants look for cold reddish skin and low energy - always have a thermometer at home.
Tips to prevent Hypothermia
ØWear clothes in layers
oInner Layer (closest to the skin) - should have "wicking" properties to move any moisture away from the skin
oMiddle Layer - should be the insulating layer to prevent loss of your body heat while keeping the cold outside air away
oOuter Layer - should be the "windbreaking" layer toreduce the chances of cold air reaching the insulating layer
ØDrink warm fluids, but no alcohol. Alcohol promotes other cold weather injuries.
ØIf you start to sweat, cool off a little. Wet clothes will also encourage other cold weather injuries
ØWear a hat - up to 40 per cent of body heat loss can occur through the head
ØWear gloves or mittens or both!
ØWear a scarf to protect the chin, lips and cheeks - all are extremely susceptible to cold weather injuries.
ØWhen going on a trip leave the itinerary with a responsible person
ØIf hiking use a map and hand-held Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) device which can be purchased for as little as $150.00 CAN
What to do in case of Hypothermia
üRemove wet clothing that promotes hypothermia.
üGet to a warm place as soon as possible. Use several layers of blankets heated in your home dryer if possible.
üIf the person is alert, give warm beverages. Never give alcoholic beverages.
üSeek immediate medical attention.
In case of serious cold weather injury, the CPR instructor’s Network urges you to seek immediate medical attention.