3 Tips to Stay Warm and Safe During Extreme Cold | Loyola Medicine
Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Three Tips to Stay Warm and Safe During Extreme Cold

stay warm tips

MAYWOOD, IL – With the current extreme cold weather conditions in the Chicago area, Loyola Medicine offers these three tips to keep you safe and warm.

1. Proper Layering is Key

Arthur Sanford, MD, of Loyola Medicine's division of trauma, surgical critical care and burns, says if you must brave the cold, proper layering goes a long way. To stay warm in single-digit temperatures, dress using these guidelines:

  • Upper body – thermal base layer, mid-layer of a sweater, fleece or jacket and a top layer of a waterproof shell
  • Lower body – wear long underwear underneath pants and top with snow pants
  • Head – wear a hat that fully covers your head and ears
  • Hands – wear waterproof gloves and avoid texting gloves with missing fingers
  • Feet – wear 1-2 pairs of thick socks and warm shoes or boots, preferably waterproof  

“Layering is ideal because if an item of clothing gets wet, you can remove it and protect yourself from frostbite," Dr. Sanford said. "It's better to put on too many layers and get warm than the other way around."

2. Stay Dry – Frostbite Strikes Fast When Body Parts Are Wet

Frostbite can strike in 30 minutes or less, especially if your feet and hands are wet, Dr. Sanford said. Fingers, toes, the tip of the nose and earlobes are the most susceptible to frostbite.
"Blood vessels start to constrict to preserve body temperature," Sanford said. "The lack of blood in these areas of the body can lead to freezing and the death of skin tissue."
If your skin takes on a white or yellowish color, blisters, feels waxy or is numb to touch (most common), get indoors immediately and place the affected area in warm water – not hot water. Finally, do not rub skin as it is fragile and could cause more damage. If feeling doesn't return or the affected area turns red or blue, swells or feels hot, go to the Emergency Department or call 911 right away.

3Limit Time Outdoors to Prevent Hypothermia

When temperatures are this bitterly cold, staying indoors may be your best option. Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature falls below 95 degrees.
Symptoms may include shivering, blueish-cold hands and feet, drowsiness, slurred speech and confusion. If a child or adult exhibits any of these symptoms, get them inside immediately, get them out of wet clothes into dry ones, wrap them in a blanket and call 911.

Exercising in the winter can be healthy and great for overall health and wellness. In fact, if warm enough, exercising in the cold can give you a rush. But in extreme weather, exercising outdoors can be dangerous and trigger asthma, heart conditions and more. Seek the advice of a medical professional before exercising outside when the temperature drops below zero.
Loyola Medicine's Burn Center is the largest burn center in Illinois and a national leader in treating adult and pediatric burns and trauma, including frostbite.

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 129,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.