Brrr, it’s cold out there! If you plan to spend any time outdoors, even a few minutes, it’s important to take proper safety precautions to stay warm. Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, shares her winter safety tips.

What are some common health problems you see during cold weather?

Nurse Rose: In cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can create heat, which can lead to these two serious health problems.

  • Frostbite: An injury caused by freezing that leads to loss of feeling or color, and can permanently damage the area, with severe cases causing amputation.
  • Hypothermia: An emergency condition caused by prolonged exposure to cold weather that can quickly lead to unconsciousness and death if heat loss continues.

How can we protect ourselves against the cold?

Nurse Rose: The best way to prevent these problems is to avoid cold weather by staying indoors. However, if you must go outdoors:

  • Layer up with several layers of loose-fitting clothing
  • Make sure you do not leave any exposed skin
  • Stay dry with water-resistant clothing
  • Wear a hat, scarf or knit mask, mittens or gloves, water-resistant boots and tight fitting sleeves

What are some signs of frostbite or hypothermia?

Nurse Rose: This winter, keep an eye out for these signs and symptoms:

  • Redness or pain in any skin area
  • Skin that feels numb, waxy or unusually firm
  • Shivering
  • Exhausting
  • Confusion
  • Fumbling hands
  • Memory loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness

What should we do if we see these signs?

If you notice these signs:

  • Seek medical attention
  • Get the individual into a warm room
  • Remove wet clothing
  • Warm them under layers of dry blankets or clothing
  • Place areas affected by frostbite in warm-to-touch water
Rose Melendez, RN

Rose Melendez, RN

Head of Emergency Department

Rose Melendez, RN is the head of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital. Tune into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. to listen to Nurse Rose live on the radio.

Need medical care fast? Adventist HealthCare has you covered with three Emergency Departments and three Urgent Care Centers in Montgomery and Prince George’s County.