Extreme cold weather exposure linked to serious health risks

Weather News

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – With dangerous cold knocking on our doorstep, extreme temperatures can have a major effect on your health.

It’s a myth that cold air can make you sick with the common cold or flu. However, what is true is that serious health problems can result from prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures. Health hazards like frostbite, hypothermia, and increased risk of heart attacks.

Winter may have been delayed this season but with temperatures expected to get down into the negatives this week, there are several ways that cold weather can become deadly. The colder it gets outside, the less time you have before symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite begin to set in.

Local health experts say it’s important to know how to protect yourself against the elements. Heart attacks are more prevalent during the winter, when cold weather can place a strain on your heart.

Dr. Sunny Shukla, the Emergency Department Chief at Baystate Noble, told 22News, “These are things people really have to be thinking about. When you’re not dressing in layers the body tries to push blood to the core vital organs like your heart and lungs and that changes your color of skin like your hands, ears, and feet.”

Other ways to make sure you stay safe in the cold:

  • Dress in layers – it is better to wear three thin layers of clothing than one bulky outfit.
  • Avoid the wind and getting wet while outdoors – both promote loss of body heat.
  • Avoid alcohol, some medications and smoking – they diminish your blood flow in the cold.

Service agencies are also gearing up for the bitter cold. The number one call they get: dead batteries.

Stephen Gonneville, operations manager at Interstate Towing, told 22News, “We are going to have an all hands on deck morning tomorrow morning.”

Interstate Towing has already received many dead battery calls, and they only expect that number to go up this week.

Gonneville also told 22News, “We are expecting a high volume of jump starts, breakdowns. Cold weather does weird things to vehicles.”

Health experts also say, with slick and icy conditions, they see a lot of traumatic injuries. They see a lot of slips and falls, especially in elderly patients.

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