Dangerous temps coming to kent county

Extremely cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills are in the forecast for today and Friday across Michigan. Since this is the first time in almost a year that residents of Kent County will experience temperatures this frigid, the Kent County Health Department is urging caution and awareness.

Children and the elderly are especially at risk of frostbite and hypothermia. It is important to know the difference between the two and to take steps to avoid both conditions.

Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Frostbite can cause a loss of feeling in the nose, cheeks, ears, fingers, chin and toes. At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold – frostbite may be beginning. White or grayish yellow skin, numbness or skin that feels unusually firm or waxy are all signs of frostbite. A victim is often unaware of frostbite until it is pointed out because the frozen tissues have become numb.

Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it causing dangerously low body temperatures. Left untreated, hypothermia can eventually lead to complete failure of the heart and respiratory system resulting in death. Warning signs of hypothermia include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, slurred speech and drowsiness. Infants may exhibit very low energy and have bright red but cold skin.

Dressing in layers and limiting your exposure to the cold is your best protection against frostbite and hypothermia. For more information about cold weather safety visit https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/index.html

To find help, call 211 from any phone or visit www.hwmuw.org/211.

In an emergency, call 911.