Warnings have been issued today by the National Weather Service for this coming weekend. Northeast Iowa can expect temperatures to plummet into the negative 40s and 50s assisted by a vicious wind-chill.
There are concerns that temperatures such as these have not been experienced since the early 1990s and residents were urged to take precautions.
Humans are at risk from frostbite which can occur in as little as five minutes’ exposure to the cold. Simple tasks such as venturing out to pick up the mail or walk to the corner shop could prove dangerous and livestock and pets are also at risk if not properly looked after.
Residents are advised not to travel if at all possible. If you must travel, make sure that vehicles are properly maintained and prepared for the conditions. Pack extra warm clothing and blankets in case you become stranded. Your mobile phone could be a life-saver so make sure it’s fully charged and keep it close to your body to keep it warm; mobile phones are vulnerable to very cold temperatures and can fail if they become too cold.
Tell a family member or friend that you are intending to travel; your destination, when you’re setting off and when you expect to arrive. Don’t forget to let them know the route you’re going to take too. If your car does break down, stay in your vehicle and wait for help to arrive.
In your home, bear in mind that heaters and furnaces will be working hard to meet extra demand and this could result in failure. If your main heat source breaks down, do not resort to heating your home using your oven or hob which could start a fire. Never use fuel-fired heaters or braziers indoors.
Spare a thought for any elderly members of your community and check to make sure they’re safe and warm. An elderly person who suffers a fall outside will be in serious danger within a few minutes.
Whether you are indoors or outdoors you could be at risk of hypothermia. Hypothermia occurs when a person’s body temperature falls below 350C (950F) and can quickly become life-threatening. The condition should be treated as a medical emergency.
Signs of hypothermia
The signs of hypothermia will vary depending on how low the sufferer’s person has dropped. Symptoms include; uncontrollable shivering, tiredness, rapid breathing and pale, cold skin. As body temperature drops the shivering becomes more violent and the person struggles to breathe, becomes delirious and may lose consciousness. Babies suffering hypothermia may appear healthy but their skin will feel cold to the touch and they may be unusually quiet, limp and refusing to feed.
What to do if you suspect someone has hypothermia
If you suspect that someone is suffering from hypothermia, summon medical assistance immediately. While you are waiting for medical help to arrive you must try to prevent any further heat loss and gently warm the person up.
· Move them inside or somewhere warm as soon as you can.
· When you’ve got them somewhere warm, remove any wet clothing and make sure they are dry.
· Wrap them up in blankets, coats or a duvet if you have one.
If the person becomes unconscious, is not breathing and you can’t find a pulse in their neck then you should give CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) if you know how to do it. Once you have commenced CPR, continue with it without any breaks until medical assistance arrives.