Protect yourself during Washington’s winter weather because exposure to winter weather can become life-threatening. Some conditions to be aware of:
Damage to body tissue caused by freezing of the tissue. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately. If you must wait for help, slowly re-warm affected areas.
Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature drops too low. Warnings signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If a person’s temperature is below 95°F (35°C), seek medical care immediately. If medical care is not available, begin warming the person slowly. Get the person into dry clothing and wrap them in a warm blanket covering the head and neck. Do not give the person hot beverages or food; warm broth is better. Do not warm extremities (arms and legs) first. This drives the cold blood toward the heart and can lead to heart failure.
Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse.
When temperatures fall, pets need extra care and our Winter Pet Care Tips page has information to help keep your pets safe.