It’s cold out there with below freezing temperatures across the nation and throughout our region. Our New Jersey weather is a fickle friend, balmy at 45 degrees one day and in the single digits the next. It is important to make sure one stays warm, does not get overheated and is prepared for all weather conditions. Our seniors are especially vulnerable to the changes in weather conditions so keep an eye out for your elder family members, neighbors and friends who might need assistance during this time of year.
Energy is expensive but don’t skimp on the heat. Make sure your thermostat is at least 68 degrees, dress warmly and keep your feet covered with socks. If you are having trouble with your heat, or have no heat call for emergency service immediately and get to a warm location like a friend’s house, a public building, or established warming center in your community. For the heating assistance hotline in NJ dial 211. Check local listing for heating assistance in your community.
Wear layered clothing. With a layer of light cotton next to your skin, and one or two additional layers of clothing, then your outerwear, you can regulate your body’s comfort throughout the day. Its easy to remove a layer of clothing if you are in a location that is too warm and add a layer if you should feel chilly.
If you must go outside in below freezing temperatures wear a hat, a scarf around your face to keep the skin from freezing and the air you breath moist, and gloves. As much as 50% of your body warmth will escape from your head alone.
Keep hydrated with water. Dehydration reduces your body’s ability to regulate body heat and can increase the risk of frostbite.
Older people are especially susceptible to hypothermia, when the internal body temperature lowers. Some medications make it difficult to control ones body temperature. Signs of hypothermia are muscle stiffness, trembling, shivering, cold skin, puffy face, confusion, lack of coordination, loss of consciousness.
If you think someone may be suffering from hyperthermia call 911 immediately. Cover them with layers of blankets, covering the top of their head and feet. Do not attempt to warm them in any other way. Wait for assistance.