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Easing Winter’s Grip

When cold weather grips Kentucky, we all feel the bite of winter. But young children and older adults are more susceptible to the cold and its dangerous side effects.

To prepare for cold weather, Dr. Ryan Stanton, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and medical director of the UK HealthCare Good Samaritan Hospital Emergency Department, offers these tips:

Layers of clothing help prevent the release of body heat and allow for warm air to sit close to our bodies, acting as a blanket. Several thin layers are more effective than one thick layer when they add up to equivalent thicknesses.

The first layer of your clothing should be a fabric that wicks water away, so moisture is not sitting against your skin. In the summer, sweat helps dissipate heat. That is what moisture does in the winter as well.

Unlike air, water is a very good conductor of heat. This is why people who fall into a lake, pond, or stream suffer from cold-related problems much more quickly than those who are exposed to air at the same temperature. The water quickly transfers the heat away from your body.

Hypothermia and cold-related injuries frequently complicate an already serious condition. It’s a good idea to be prepared with extra cold-weather clothing readily accessible in case you have car trouble or an accident when traveling. A blanket, basic food, and water should also be available.


POWER OUTAGES

Items to keep in your home in case power is lost include:

• Nonperishable food
• Water
• Blankets
• Alternative lighting
• An alternative heat source designed specifically for indoor use (no grills, propane heaters, or generators)

Having a safe place to stay (a neighbor with an outdoor backup generator, a shelter, or a hotel) is also a good idea in a winter weather emergency.

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