The Cold Can Kill

After a brief respite with temperatures in the 30s today and Sunday, the deep freeze will return Monday and Tuesday with high winds and wind chill factors well below zero.

With upcoming frigid weather, exposure becomes a concern for both people and animals.

And with exposure can come hypothermia.

“A patient is considered to have hypothermia when his or her body drops below 95 degrees,” according to a release from Warren General Hospital. “Hypothermia can occur when you are in cold air or water too long. Children and elderly are at a higher risk…. There are several stages of hypothermia depending on the length of time a person is exposed to extreme cold conditions.”

Mild hypothermia occurs when the body’s temperature falls to between 90 and 95 degrees. Symptoms include shivering, bluish skin, clumsiness, trouble speaking clearly (and) disoriented and confused behavior.” Additional hypothermia symptoms include exhaustion, hallucinations and, in the most severe cases, stiffness, coma, heart failure and death.

“If you know someone experiencing any combination of these symptoms after being exposed to cold weather for an extended period of time, cover the person with blankets, take off any wet clothing and seek medical attention immediately,” said WGH Chief of Clinical Operations Dr. Douglas Megill. “Never rub or massage the affected skin (as) this can potentially cause more damage.”

The release states that “hypothermia can be treated if the patient seeks medical treatment. If a patient does not seek immediate treatment serious health problems or even death can occur.”

While animals can handle cold weather better than we can, the very frigid temperatures coming up can pose a serious risk to animals.

Any while we often think of pets such as cats and dogs in this way, Paws Along The River Director Karen Kolos cited concern for larger animals such as horses and cows amidst this cold spell.

“People don’t think that they need care,” she said. “Horses can’t be wet in the wind (and) need three-sided structure shelter.

“All animals outside need to be provided extra calories, extra food, to keep body fat up and keep them warm,” she added. “If walking pets, check their paws.

Information provided by Kolos from the Paws website encouraged people to “thoroughly wipe your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.”

“Outside dogs and cats… need to come inside during this really bitter cold,” she added. “Anything under freezing (and animals) need to come in.”