As the Midwest gets ravaged by a polar vortex, causing eight confirmed deaths (so far), keeping warm is an integral part of staying healthy. A sophomore at the University of Iowa, along with a man in Michigan and a young couple in northern Indiana, were a few of the first confirmed deaths from the polar vortex. As the temperatures drop, here are a few steps you can take to stay safe in the cold.
Stay Indoors and Dress for the Weather
If you can help it, don’t go outside. Exposure to temperatures nearly 50 degrees below zero caused by a wind chill can cause hypothermia in 10-15 minutes. Even when dressed for the weather, limit your exposure of minus 10-degree weather to just 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Just going out for a walk outside without a hat can cause frostbite on your open ears!
Frostbitten skin can appear pale white, waxy yellow, or gray. If you have any of these skin colors, along with blistering and pain, make a beeline for the indoors if you can. If the waxy coloration, blistering, and pain don’t go away after being indoors for approximately a half hour, call your doctor.
Pack Your Car
If you do have to go to work or school, be sure to pack your car accordingly. Throw a safety candle, an extra set of clothes, a flashlight, and a blanket in your car before you leave to go anywhere. Taking these extra precautions may seem silly now, but if anything happens to your car, like a shorted battery or another electrical failure, you are more likely to be safe from the extreme cold.
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