People die from hypothermia in Kansas, and many others suffer injuries and illnesses due to hypothermia and frostbite during cold weather. Are you at risk?
Know the facts to avoid becoming a statistic! Take this short quiz to test your knowledge.
QUIZ: True or False
1. Hypothermia is a danger only when outdoor temperatures are below freezing (32 degrees F.).
2. It takes a long time (hours) for me to be outdoors before hypothermia becomes a problem.
3. Being a woman is a risk factor for hypothermia.
4. When I begin experiencing mild symptoms of hypothermia, I’ll know to go indoors or get help.
5. The fur coat on dogs and cats protects them from getting hypothermia.
1. FALSE. Hypothermia is an abnormally low temperature in your body. In general, temperatures under 40 degrees F. are dangerous, night or day. However, cold weather between 40 and 50 degrees F. also is dangerous when it is windy, you are wet, or if you are especially vulnerable (e.g., elderly, sick, intoxicated, etc.).
2. FALSE. Frostbite and hypothermia can set in within minutes, depending on the temperature and wind, and whether you are wet, sick, or otherwise vulnerable. Also, you don’t have to be outdoors to suffer hypothermia. Persons living in vehicles and in unheated or poorly heated homes can suffer frostbite and hypothermia.
3. FALSE. However, being a male is a risk factor for hypothermia. Other risk factors include: babies and the elderly; specific medical conditions (diabetes, dementia, etc.); taking certain medications (check with your doctor or pharmacist); consuming alcohol or illicit drugs; and not having access to adequate food.
At the first sign of hypothermia or frostbite find warm shelter and call for help.
4. FALSE. A low body temperature affects your brain, making it difficult to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia and frostbite especially dangerous because you may not know it is happening. Other factors affecting your mental state include: dementia, mental illness, or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. At the first signs of hypothermia (symptoms include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, slurred speech, loss of coordination, weakness, drowsiness, and exhaustion) find warm shelter and call for help.
5. FALSE. It is a misconception that the fur coat on cats and dogs protects them from cold weather. Especially vulnerable cats and dogs include those that: are wet; have short hair or short legs; are very young, or sick. If you have pets, bring them indoors. If you cannot bring them inside, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and dry, and make sure that they have unfrozen water to drink.
Bonus Question. During the recent recession, many individuals and families in Butler County lost their jobs and homes. More than we might realize are living outdoors, in their cars, and in unsuitable shelter. We don’t have a Hypothermia Hotline in Kansas to connect those in need with help. On especially frigid days and nights, in addition to individual acts of charity from local churches and residents, where does someone go to stay warm in our community? How would they know where?
You can find Tips for being outdoors in winter storms on the El Dorado Times website.
If you want to know more, read Cold Weather Safety Tips to Avoid Accidental Hypothermia & Frostbite.