As cold weather continues to grip much of the nation, it’s important to remember that the elderly and disabled are especially vulnerable to hypothermia. Hypothermia occurs when the body cannot produce enough energy to keep the internal body temperature warm and body temperature falls at or below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Signs of Hypothermia include; confusion, cold hands and feet, shivering, sleepiness, slurred speech, weak pulse, changes in behavior and poor control over body movements.
The National Institute on Health (NIH) offers these helpful tips and reminders to stay safe in the extreme cold:
- Set your thermostat to at least 68 degrees
- Wear layers of clothing in the house including socks and slippers to keep warm. You may even need to keep a cap or hat on indoors to keep you warm.
- Remember that some medications and medical conditions can increase the risk of hypothermia. Hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone), arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and other health problems make it harder for a person’s body to stay warm. Some types of medicine can also make it easy to get too cold.
- Some medical conditions also make it difficult to put on and remove clothing. (Some people cannot remember to put on warm clothing in cold weather.)
- When the temperature drops, remember to check in on your elderly friends and neighbors, especially those who are home-bound.
If you think someone is experiencing hypothermia, contact 911. Keep the person as warm as possible until help arrives.