Quick Tips for shelter providers/outreach staff for keeping people warm in cold weather and recognizing and dealing with hypothermia and frostbite. - Project Neon BLOG

Quick Tips for shelter providers/outreach staff for keeping people warm in cold weather and recognizing and dealing with hypothermia and frostbite.

Posted by A.T. Martin on January 20, 2012 2:09 PM

Key Point: If you think someone may have hypothermia or frostbite they should be referred for medical evaluation.

 General guidance

·                       Encourage staying inside as much as possible, especially for sleeping

·                       Remind  clients about dressing in layers

·                       Provide/encourage a hat or head covering- this helps decrease heat loss tremendously

·                       Provide/encourage mittens ( warmer than gloves) and scarves

·                       Encourage client to stay dry as possible-outer wear best if water resistant

·                       Proper foot wear is hard to get in Seattle; people will need boots shoes and socks

 Additional ways to help

·                       Provide clothing as above

·                       Provide high-energy foods such as energy bars

·                       Provide hearty soups and stews with high carbohydrate and protein

·                       Encourage hydration- limit coffee, provide teas, particularly decaf, water, warmed juices, broth

·                       Alcohol exacerbates heat loss. Does not "warm you up"

·                       Assist with drying feet, provide dry socks/shoes

 Most people who come in from the cold will respond to the following

·                       Remove wet clothing

·                       Put on dry clothing

·                       Provide warm beverages, especially broth, warm Gatorade, juices (helps with restoring electrolytes and hydration)

·                       If people begin to develop any of the symptoms below they should be referred for medical evaluation

 Hypothermia and Frostbite

People at higher risk for hypothermia include persons who:

·                       Spend a lot of time outside

·                       Are under-dressed for weather

·                       Dependent on alcohol

·                       Use recreational drug users

·                       Have diabetes

·                       Are elderly

·                       Are malnourished

·                       Are mentally ill

·                       Have an active infection

·                       Have mobility problems

 The signs and symptoms of hypothermia are similar to those of intoxication:

·                       Confusion

·                       Slurred speech

·                       Trouble with coordination

·                       Slowed response time

·                       Sleepiness

·                       They are also likely to be shivering

 Frostbite

·                       Frost bitten areas may look dusky, dark

·                       Immersion foot may look waxy, blanched, grayish /whitish

·                       May feel numb or prickly to the person.

·                       These conditions require quick medical evaluation. 

 If signs of either of these are present, these folks should be referred for medical evaluation

 While they are waiting to be transferred provide:

·                       Warm, dry clothing/covering

·                       Warm, not hot, liquids

·                       Avoid direct exposure to heaters or attempts to rapidly warm the person up as this can make things worse.

 

Source: Public Health - Seattle & King County

 

 

 

 

 

 

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