5 health mistakes not to make in the bitter cold

As record-breaking cold temperatures move in, it’s a good time to refresh your memory on a few common mistakes to avoid. Dr. Joshua Kosowsky, clinical director of emergency medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, reminds us that frostbite can take over in just moments of being in extreme cold weather, so it’s important to cover any exposed skin, including your face, before going outside.

Sweat can cool your body down even more, so Kosowsky says it’s important to wear layers and moisture-resistant clothing during outdoor activities such as shoveling snow. If you have cold fingers, Dr. Andrew Ulrich of Boston Medical Center advises running them under luke-warm water instead of hot water so that you don’t experience pain from warming them too quickly.

Avoid drinking alcohol, since it can impair your decision-making and can make you more susceptible to hyperthermia. When it comes to your kids playing outside in the cold, Kosowsky recommends, “Check on them every half-hour or so to see how they’re doing.” Make sure you set a time limit, and if the children complain of feeling cold or numb, it’s time for them to come inside and warm up.

The Boston Globe, 1/3/14

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