WVEL Health Scope Now: Winter Health Emergency Tips

(Photo By Flickr User Can Pac Swire)


As we move further into winter, health officials want to remind people about the possible health illnesses and injuries people can endure during the cold season.

HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital of Quincy, IL and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said as part of a national campaign, they are working to educate and empower everyone to prepare for, respond to and mitigate emergencies.

Kirstin Hayden, PA-C, said as it gets colder outside it’s important to remember the importance of dressing warm, especially for kids and the elderly.

Frostbite and hypothermia are a few of the health-related risks the cold brings. Hayden said frostbite begins with the loss of feeling and color of the fingers and toes. While hypothermia occurs when the body temperature drops below 95 degrees and there are signs of shivering, confusion and slurred speech.

She said,

“We worry about young children and the elderly, they are the ones really effected by these temperatures than say your average 20/30-year-old is. We want to make sure they are dressing warmly when they are outside.”

Make sure to wear gloves and cover any exposed skin if necessary to venture outside.

“As we age really our skin loses elasticity so we kind of get more susceptible to being cold a lot quicker than we used when we were younger so making sure they (elderly) have food available in case they can’t get out,” Hayden explained. “A lot of times we associate cold weather with snow and ice and that’s a high risk for falls with anyone especially the elderly.”

With winter comes the occasional snow fall. Hayden said during this time of the year there’s a high risk for heart attack when someone is overexerting themselves shoveling snow.

“Taking breaks in the middle, you know if you notice yourself starting to be short of breath or anything like that stop and take a break, it’s not worth risking your health for.”

Along with the snow comes ice and slick spots. The big thing doctors see is breaks and fractures, especially to the hips and arms. Hayden said if person thinks they are going to fall don’t try to catch yourself with your arms.

“If you feel yourself falling one of the things you shouldn’t do is put your hands out, even though that is our first instinct, try to keep yourself tight closed in.”

Someone who is elderly or lives alone and needs to go outside to get the mail or take the trash out is encouraged to bring a phone or have their life alert on them to call for help if they are to fall or get injured in some way.

Finally, with winter comes the flu season. Hayden said it’s important during this time of the year to do proper hand washing, covering the mouth when coughing and nose when sneezing. She explained if someone thinks they are sick and heads to the doctor be sure to ask for mask to ensure others don’t get sick.

Other winter tips include knowing a place for shelter if the heat goes out or if someone is needing warmth. HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital is safe haven for people to warm up.

(Information Courtesy Of WGEM-TV)