If you plan to go to President Obama’s Inauguration Ceremony, prepare for cold weather on Monday, Jan. 21.  While it’s not forecast to be below freezing, people who attend the parade and ceremony can expect to be outside for more than three hours.

Here are some tips to protect yourself against the elements:

  • Dress in layers – The inside layer should wick moisture away from the skin. The middle layer should insulate. The outer layer should keep the elements out, like wind or rain.
  • Wear a hat and mittens or gloves – Your body heat escapes from exposed areas. Cover up your fingers to protect from frostbite. Mittens are actually preferred, because your fingers can share warmth.
  • Wear sunscreen and lip balm – Protect your skin and lips from UV rays, even if it’s cloudy. (It’s not expected to rain, but remember, umbrellas are not allowed at the inauguration for security reasons. Wear ponchos or rain coats.)

Also be sure to stay well-hydrated and consider snacks or light meals. Heavy meals require more blood flow for digestion, which means it’s harder for warm blood to circulate to your fingers and toes.

Extra consideration should be taken in cold weather with infants, young children, the elderly or anyone with a weakened immune system. Be on the watch for potential frostbite or hypothermia.

Frostbite feels like tingling, numbness and pain in the affected area. It begins with “frostnip,” but can worsen with prolonged exposure. The skin turns white or gray. The skin may even blacken. This can result in permanent damage and tissue loss. If you suspect frostbite, soak the affected area in warm water and seek medical attention immediately.

Hypothermia is when the body’s core temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms include slurred speech, uncontrollable shivering, blue lips and nails, abnormally slow breathing and a slow, irregular heart beat. Cardiac arrest is possible. Seek medical attention immediately. Treatment varies by age. The elderly are more susceptible to hypothermia.

You can lessen your risk for frostbite or hypothermia by wearing proper clothing to protect against wind and dampness and by staying hydrated. Fatigue, smoking and alcohol or substance abuse can put someone at higher risk for these conditions.

If you’re attending Inauguration Day events or any outdoor events this winter, please keep these cold weather tips in mind to stay safe and healthy.