Get Healthy: Baby, it’s cold outside
December 19, 2012
This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.Winter has once again returned to Carson City, and with the cold temperatures comes an increased risk of hypothermia. This week’s column addresses some of the signs and symptoms of hypothermia, and how you can help protect yourself and those around you from suffering the effects of our chilly environment.Hypothermia occurs when the body’s core temperature falls below 95 degrees. Normal body temperature is about 98.6 degrees, but even a few degrees drop in temperature can have you feeling the effects of mild hypothermia. Early on, the symptoms may include shivering, red or pale skin, numbness in the hands and feet, and mild confusion. These symptoms worsen as the victim becomes even colder. Hypothermia can be a life-threatening condition.People most at risk of hypothermia include the elderly and infants; those with inadequate food, clothing, or heat; people with prolonged exposure to cold temperatures; participants in outdoor recreation activity; the homeless; and those who use alcohol or illicit drugs. In the challenging economy, many people may be going without heat, placing them at higher risk for hypothermia as the temperature outdoors drops in our region.If you suspect that someone is suffering from hypothermia, call for emergency medical attention. If medical care is not available, get victim into a warm place and remove any wet clothing. Warm the victim slowly, starting with the center/core of the body first. Use an electric blanket or skin-to-skin contact under loose layers of warm blankets or clothing. Give warm, nonalcoholic beverages. After the person is warmed, keep them dry and wrapped in warm blankets, and make sure to get medical attention as soon as possible.Even though we often think of hypothermia as a condition that occurs in very cold temperatures, it is important to remember that people can get hypothermia even if it is not below freezing. If there is a power outage, remember to check on elderly neighbors to make sure that they are OK. Be sure that babies and children are kept warm. If you are feeling cold or exhibiting the early signs of hypothermia, find somewhere to warm yourself.For more information about Health Department services, check out our website at http://www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or “like” us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cchhs.Food for Flu is back: Through the end of the year, bring in two nonperishable food items to receive a voucher for a free flu vaccine, redeemable any Thursday in December in our clinic. If you have not yet received your flu shot, this is a great opportunity for you to receive it while helping to feed the hungry in our community. Carson City Healthand Human Services900 E. Long St., Carson City.Call 775-887-2195.Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Friday; call for appointment.Well-child visits: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays.Men’s clinic: 4-6 p.m. Mondays.Immunization Day: 8:30-11:30 a.m.; 1-4:30 p.m. Thursdays.Douglas CountyCommunity Health1538 Highway 395 North (corner of Spruce Street and Cemetery Lane).Call 775-782-9038.Clinic hours: 8:30 a.m. to noon Monday; 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday.Monday is Immunization Day: No appointment needed, 1-4:30 p.m.