Experts advise keeping your cool in the cold

Though Twitter is alive today with citizens reporting the arrival of snowflakes in towns and cities across the state, the real story is the cold that will be sweeping across Connecticut over the next few days. WTNH reports that temps could dip into the single digits over the next couple of days.

And with cold temperatures come some particular health hazards, said Dr. Kilbourn Gordon, III, director of Bridgeport Hospital’s Fairfield Urgent Care Center. “You have to worry about frostbite, number one,” he said.

Other chilly-weather concerns include hypothermia, in which the body’s core temperature drops, and blood — instead of circulating out to the extremities — pools in the central core of the body. This can cause of variety of problems, Gordon said, but it’s unlikely to affect most people in the state, unless they spend a lot of time outdoors (he added that elderly residents with poor heating in their homes might be susceptible to hypothermia indoors, so check on older friends and relatives).

But, since the cold sends a lot of people inside this time of year, Gordon said it can exacerbate other seasonal woes — particularly cold and flu. People tend to spend a lot of time indoors in close contact over the winter, he said, which can speed the spread of disease. This makes it all the more important to wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough and take other precautions to avoid getting and spreading illnesses.

Here are some more tips, from the CDC, for staying warm when the temps fall:
Eat and drink wisely. Eating well-balanced meals helps you stay warmer. Don’t drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, as they can cause your body to lose heat more rapidly. Instead, drink warm, sweet beverages or broth to help maintain your body temperature.

Dress warmly when outdoors. Wear a hat, scarf, sleeves that are snug at the wrist, mittens, a water-resistant coat and boots and several layers of loose-fitting clothes.

exertion. Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, consult a doctor about shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the cold. If you are in good health, dress warmly and work slowly while doing chores outside.

Avoid ice. Walking on ice is very dangerous and many cold-weather injuries result from falls on ice-covered sidewalks, steps, driveways and porches. Keep your steps and walkways as free of ice as possible by using rock salt or other chemical de-icers.

Amanda Cuda