First came the snow. Now comes the cold.
While Chicago might have a reputation for its cold winters, the extreme cold is no laughing matter.
“The weather can be extremely dangerous, posing risks like hypothermia, frostbite, irregular heart rhythms and even death,” says Dr. Mohammed Samee, an internal medicine physician at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago.
Dr. Samee offers four tips for staying safe in the extreme cold:
Know the warning signs: Frostbite and hypothermia are dangerous conditions caused by freezing cold weather. You’re in danger of frostbite if you see any redness or pain in exposed skin, and you might be at risk of hypothermia if you experience shivering, fumbling hands, confusion and memory loss.
Stay out of the cold: If you start seeing these warning signs or find yourself being outside for extended periods of time, come in out of the cold. Find a place where there is insulation and rewarm yourself by removing wet clothing and drinking something warm.
Layer up! When you have to head out into the cold, be prepared and dress in layers. No matter how quick your trip is, bundle up and try not to leave any part of your body exposed to the cold.
Prepare your home and car, too: Even if you find yourself sheltered, in your own home or car, it’s best to be prepared for an emergency situation. Leave blankets in the car or someplace in your house for rewarming.