Temps are dropping; stay safe with advice from the health dept.

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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Cold temperatures have reached Michigan with possible wind chills dropping down into the -20's this week. (Negative 20's!)

The Ionia County Health Department wants to remind Michiganders to take extra precautions over the coming days with the cold temps.

You want to be prepared and protected from this arctic snap, especially with any exposed skin. Two serious conditions are frostbite and hypothermia. They can be lessened by early recognition and treatment. And did you know that shivering is a good indicator that it’s time to go in? Shivering is the first sign that the body is losing heat.

“If you are going to be doing outdoor activities for an extended period of time it is vital to be observant for signs
of frostbite. These include numbness, and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes,
and the tip of the nose. If you think you have frostbite you should go indoors immediately and submerse the
extremity in warm (not hot) water for 20-30 minutes until sensation returns. If it does not return in that time you
should call your doctor.” Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Chad Shaw.

Monitor your indoor temperatures too. Infants should never sleep in a cold room because they lose body heat faster than adults.

It is also important for older adults to have extra home heating during these cold temperatures. They tend to have slower metabolisms and not only make, but retain less heat than younger adults.

In general, stay indoors if the weather is extremely cold and there are high winds or make trips outside brief.

The Ionia County Health Department offers these handy cold-weather reminders:

- Dress warmly and stay dry: Be sure to dress in layers in wind resistant clothing. Wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers will hold more body heat than cotton. If your clothing is wet, go inside as soon as possible. When inside, remove the wet clothing as soon as possible.
- Avoid exertion: Cold weather can put extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or other hard work in the cold. The body is
already working hard to stay warm, so extra work can cause an overload.
- Cover exposed skin: Always wear a warm hat that covers ears, gloves or mittens that cover the full wrist, and a scarf or ski mask to protect face and neck.
- Be Safe during Recreation: Notify friends and family where you will be before you go hiking, camping,or skiing. Avoid perspiring or becoming overtired. Be prepared to take emergency shelter. Pack dry clothing, a two-way radio, waterproof matches, and paraffin fire starters with you. Do not use alcohol or other mood altering substances, and avoid caffeinated beverages.