Law enforcement and public health officials advise residents of extreme cold temperature conditions that are expected to continue through next week.
The combination of cold temperatures and high winds can increase the risk of developing hypothermia. Emergency management and public health officials urge residents to take steps to prevent hypothermia.
Victims of hypothermia are most often elderly people with inadequate food, clothing or heating; babies sleeping in cold bedrooms; or people who remain outdoors for long periods.
The warning signs associated with hypothermia are:
• Adults and children: Shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness.
• Infants: Bright red or cold skin, very low energy.
If you notice any of the signs mentioned above, take the person’s temperature – if below 95 degrees F, the situation is an emergency – get medical attention immediately. If medical care is not available, begin warming the person, as follows:
• Get the victim into a warm room or shelter.
• If the victim has on any wet clothing, remove it.
• Warm the center of the body first – chest, neck, head and groin – using an electric blanket, if available. Or use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.
• Warm beverages can help increase the body temperature, but do not give alcoholic beverages. Do not try to give beverages to an unconscious person.
• After body temperature has increased, keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck.
• Get medical attention as soon as possible.
Emergency management and public health officials encourage everyone to check on elderly relatives, friends and neighbors. Layer clothing, preferably wind resistant, to reduce loss of body heat caused by the wind. Tell relatives and friends where you are going and when you expect to return. Put a hat, blanket, gloves, and boots in your vehicle.
It is also important to keep pets indoors as much as possible. Some type of wind block should be made if animals must remain outside. A safe heat source can be used as well to aid in keeping animals warm.
For more information about hypothermia or frostbite, visit http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/ or contact your local health department:
• Vernon County: 608-637-5251
• Juneau County: 608-847-9373
• Sauk County: 608-355-3290
• Monroe County: 608-269-8666