Red Cross Urges Winter Weather Precautions - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Red Cross Urges Winter Weather Precautions

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Sub-zero temperatures are expected to sweep across the state, and Red Cross officials are urging Montanans to be prepared, especially before heading outdoors.

Red Cross recommends having a three-day supply of water, a flashlight, a weather radio, a first aid kit, and any necessary medications on hand at all times.

If you're heading outdoors, they say to wear layers, a hat and gloves.

They also said recreators should be aware of the wind chill, drink plenty of warm fluids and take breaks from the cold.

"We know that many people every year get caught in precarious situations where they need help, so all we want to suggest is people take every precaution," said Anna Fernandez-Gevaert, of Montana Red Cross.

Here are some tips from the American Red Cross on hypothermia and frostbite:

Frostbite is the freezing of a specific body part such as fingers, toes, the nose or earlobes. Signals of frostbite include lack of feeling in the affected area; skin that appears waxy, is cold to the touch, or is discolored (flushed, white or gray, yellow or blue).
What to do for frostbite:

1. Move the person to a warm place.
2. Handle the area gently; never rub the affected area.
3. Warm gently by soaking the affected area in warm water (100-105 degrees F) until it appears red and feels warm.
4. Loosely bandage the area with dry, sterile dressings.
5. If the person's fingers or toes are frostbitten, place dry, sterile gauze between them to keep them separated.
6. Avoid breaking any blisters.
7. Do not allow the affected area to refreeze.
8. Seek professional medical care as soon as possible.

Hypothermia is another cold-related emergency. Hypothermia is life-threatening. Hypothermia is caused by the cooling of the body caused by the failure of the body's warming. The goals of first aid are to restore normal body temperature and to care for any conditions while waiting for EMS personnel. Signals of hypothermia include shivering, numbness, glassy stare, apathy, weakness, impaired judgment, loss of consciousness.
What to do for hypothermia:

1. CALL 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
2. Gently move the person to a warm place.
3. Monitor breathing and circulation.
4. Give rescue breathing and CPR if needed.
5. Remove any wet clothing and dry the person.
6. Warm the person slowly by wrapping in blankets or by putting dry clothing on the person. Hot water bottles and chemical hot packs may be used when first wrapped in a towel or blanket before applying. Do not warm the person too quickly, such as by immersing him or her in warm water. Rapid warming may cause dangerous heart arrhythmias. Warm the core first (trunk, abdomen), not the extremities (hands, feet). This is important to mention because most people will try to warm hands and feet first and that can cause shock.

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