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Ready for cold temperatures

January 24, 2013

Eric Snapp, at left, and Eric Sammetinger, at right, help Jeff Orphal put on a cold water suit on Wednesday evening. The firefighters practiced their water rescue skills at the city pond in Wapakoneta.

With the cold temperatures in the air, people are dressing in more layers and are more cautious of exposure to the outside environment.

In addition with being conscious of the winter weather, there are many safety precautions to take when it comes to heath and safety.

When it comes to snow and ice, a local fire chief notes the proper way to walk without falling and slipping.

“Footwear is definitely a big issue,” Wapakoneta Fire Chief Kendall Krites said. “Wear something that has traction when walking on ice.”

While walking on ice can be hazardous to begin with, Krites said it is important to keep sidewalks cleared after snow or ice hits.

But in the meantime, there are special shoes that are made to slip over footwear and provide traction and more steady walking.

“I would recommend to avoid high heels and shoes with smooth bottoms,” Krites said when walking on the ice.

Delays and cancellations occurred earlier this week at area schools, and when children stand outside and wait for the bus in cold temperatures, it is important for them to be properly dressed.

“On a dry, cold day, they should have a hat, gloves and a good warm jacket,” Krites said.

The hat is the most important part of this ensemble.

“We lose most of our heat from our head,” Krites said.

So as it is important to wear coats and gloves it is just as important to cover the head and wear a hat, because wearing this can help keep in the body’s heat, so it is not lost as quickly, as it would be without a hat.

Children lose heat faster than adults do, according to Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness (OCSWA). Children have a larger head-to-body ratio than adults do, which makes them more prone to heat loss through the head. Ensure children playing outside cover their heads, either with hats or hoods, and come inside periodically to warm up.

Another way for students to be more comfortable at a bus stop or outside is to get out of the wind, because if they can get out of the wind chill, they do not lose as much body heat.

A condition can occur in exposure to the cold temperatures, which is hypothermia.

According to OCSWA, hypothermia occurs when exposed to cold temperatures and this happens when the body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up the body’s stored energy and the result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature.

Body temperature that is too low affects the brain and can make a person unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it, according to OCSWA.

“When people become hypothermic, they have diminished body functions, and they can’t reason,” Krites said. “Their reasoning and logic becomes diminished.”

Hypothermia should be watched when dealing with a small child. Infants younger than one year of age are at risk of this, and they should never sleep in a cold room and should wear warm clothing or a snug-fitting sleeper to prevent loss of body heat, according to OCSWA.

Blankets should not be placed in the crib, but instead use a sleep sack to keep infants warm, and also pre-warm vehicles before taking infants out into extreme cold weather.

When dealing with extreme temperatures — including winter sports, such as ice fishing or ice skating at public pond, it is important to be safe.

If someone falls through ice, and falls into water, their body temperatures cools 25 percent faster in the water than in the air.

When submerged into a body of water, a person should try to get themselves to the surface and if they cannot get out, then they can fold their body up, by hugging their knees in their arms, instead of wading around.

Krites and his team helped prepare for this sort of situation by practicing their water rescue skills on Wednesday evening at the city pond, near U.S. 33, by the Wapakoneta Electric Department.

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