Protecting yourself from hypothermia during cold weather

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With the cold weather comes worry about Hypothermia, but many people may not even realize when it’s happening to their bodies.

Dr. Tasha Ford, an Emergency Medical Physician with St. Francis Bartlett says the cold weather next week is prime weather for hypothermia.

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“We should be concerned for all age groups and all levels, children, the elderly, not just people that are unhoused or homeless, but also with the weather changing and the concern for possible power outages,” Dr. Ford said. “People may lose their power and be at home,  but the temperature falls within the house, and they can also experience hypothermia, even though they might not be in the cold.”

If you’re exposed to the cold and begin to shiver, your teeth start chattering, you feel sleepy, or exhausted, she says that can be a sign of hypothermia.

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Over-the-road truck driver Pat Butcher is outside year-round, snow and all. She says that she does what she can to keep hypothermia from setting in.

“You put gloves on, coat on, toboggan, hat, anything you can put on to stay warm,” Butcher said.

When you first start seeing signs or symptoms, Dr. Ford says to get to a warm area, put on dry clothing, and seek medical attention if shivering and chattering do not improve.

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Parents should watch their kids closely for hypothermia, especially if they suddenly become less energetic, if they are cold to the touch, or if their face, lips, or tips of their nose become red.

“If they are outside they need to have frequent breaks to bring them in to rewarm them, rehydrate them, and then let them go back out,” Dr. Ford said. “The thing about hypothermia is it can potentially be a very dangerous situation if we don’t notice the early warning signs.”

Also, be sure to check on elderly adults who may live alone by making sure they have food, warmth, and hydration.

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