Cold-Related Illness

Click on a pin for days and hours of operation. The overnight shelters are only open from 8 PM-7 AM between November 1-March 31 on nights that it is 32 degrees or colder between the hours of 10 PM and 4 AM. Community Partnership of the Ozarks has arranged vans to pick up individuals needing shelter from meal sites on a rotating schedule at 5:30 p.m.



Tips to stay safe during cold weather:

  • Stay indoors, if possible. If heat or shelter is not available, consider visiting a building open to the public like a shopping mall, public library, church or community building. 
  • Drink more fluids – regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty but avoid drinks containing caffeine and alcohol because they affect how your body reacts to the cold.  
  • Cover your head since most body heat is lost through the head. 
  • Dress in layers since the space between the layers works as insulation to help keep you warmer than a single heavy layer. 
  • Minimize sitting or squatting in the cold for prolonged periods of time. These activities can hinder circulation. 
  • Adjust to outdoor activity. Stretch and do a few exercises before going outside to work to avoid muscle strain. Extreme cold puts extra strain on the heart – no matter what your age or physical condition. 
  • Use the buddy system. Monitor the condition of those you’re with and have someone do the same for you.  
  • Carry extra clothes with you such as socks, gloves, hats and jacket so you can change them if you get wet

Types of Cold-Related Illness

  1. Hypothermia
  2. Frostbite
  3. Trench Foot
  4. Chilblains

Your body loses heat faster than it can be produced in cold weather. Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures will exhaust your body’s energy, causing your body temperature to drop leading to hypothermia.  

If you have a chronic condition such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, memory loss, or thyroid problems, you may take medicines that make it hard to regulate your body temperature. Ask your doctor if this is an issue for you or any questions you might have about hypothermia. 

Older adults are more sensitive to cold than younger adults. Body temperature below 95°F, or hypothermia, increases their risk of heart disease and kidney or liver damage, especially if they have a history of low body temperature or have had hypothermia in the past. 

Early Symptoms:

  • Shivering 
  • Fatigue 
  • Loss of coordination 
  • Confusion and disorientation

Late Symptoms:

  • No shivering 
  • Blue skin 
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Slowed pulse and breathing 
  • Loss of consciousness

Treatments:

  • Call 9-1-1 if you or someone else is showing possible signs of hypothermia.  
  • Move into a warm room or shelter.  
  • Remove any wet clothing.  
  • Warm the center of the body first-chest, neck, head, and groin-using an electric blanket, if available; or use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets. 
  • After their body temperature has increased, keep the victim dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck. 
  • If victim has no pulse, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).