Over the last few days Eastern Europe has been plagued by extreme drops in temperatures that have led to many people dying due to the cold. So far more than 110 have died across Europe as the temperatures have plummeted to -30°C.
That cold front is covering much of the UK but is likely to meet with mild air from the west causing problems from tonight to Sunday. The Met Office have today announced level 3 weather warnings for extreme drops in temperature and the possibility of the heaviest snowfall this winter so far.
Those who are vulnerable to extreme cold weather, young babies and children, the very old and those who are already vulnerable due to ill health should take extra care. Those with breathing problems such as asthma should also be careful as the cold may trigger attacks. Be extra vigilant with elderly neighbours to ensure that they are warm enough.
Are you ready to deal with cold weather?
There are some basic steps that you can take to keep yourself and those around you safe and healthy during the cold snap:
- Obviously you need to wrap up warmly using plenty of light layers to help trap the heat in, this works better than one thick layer.
- Ensure you keep well hydrated and have regular hot drinks and at least one hot meal a day if possible.
- Keep as active as possible.
- Check on any family members or neighbours who may be more vulnerable than most.
Could you recognise the signs and symptoms of hypothermia?
Hypothermia happens when the body’s temperature drops below 35°C. It is often caused by being out in the cold or in an unheated or poorly heated room for too long. It could also be caused by falling into cold water and failing to get warm and dry quickly enough.
Hypothermia is a dangerous condition and can be life threatening. The early signs are quite insidious and can creep up on a person. They include:
- Uncontrollable shivering
- uncontrollable chattering of teeth
- tiredness, progressing towards extreme tiredness
- mild and growing confusion, perhaps ultimately becoming violently confused
- slurred speech
- slow, shallow breathing
Ultimately, the condition can be fatal, if the causes and symptoms are not treated in a timely fashion.
Babies are particularly vulnerable to cold and may look pink and healthy but will be very cold to touch. They are also likely to be very limp and refusing to feed.
If you suspect someone is suffering with severe hypothermia:
- call 999
- remove any wet clothing and replace with dry clothing if possible
- cover with blankets
- try to keep them warm.
- Note: Do NOT use hot water bottles, or other direct heat sources, as these divert blood away from heart & lungs.
If the casualty is conscious, you can provide them with warm (but not hot or alcoholic) drinks.
Obviously, do not give any drinks to anyone who is unconscious!
Unconscious casualties should be placed in the recovery position and monitored carefully. If they stop breathing commence CPR.