|With the threat of more winter weather, officials at Daviess Community Hospital worked Wednesday to prepare the hospital for the predicted additional snow accumulation and plummeting temperatures. |
“Our environmental services staff has been clearing snow all day,” said Jim Heckert, CEO. “With the prediction of more snow and cold weather, we took time to plan today for bad weather over the next few days so that our services would continue without interruption. We knew some of our staff members might have trouble getting to and from work, so we made beds available for them to stay here at the hospital. And, in some cases, we arranged for 4-wheel drive transportation.”
By noon Wednesday, the Emergency Room was already treating patients for falls and injuries related to the snow. “It’s really easy to fall on the slick surfaces,” said Heckert. “People don’t realize that until after they are down.”
According to Tina Durnil, ER Nurse Manager, the elderly population is at the greatest risk for injury during winter weather. “For them, a fall can lead to a broken bone or hip,” said Durnil. “We think the best advice we can give them is to avoid making unnecessary trips outside. It’s difficult to do with all the things people want to finish before Christmas. But, an injury can ruin everyone’s celebration. Let the task wait until the weather gets warmer.”
Durnil said that for those who must be outside, hats, scarves, gloves, thick socks and winter boots are essential. “Wear several layers of loose, warm clothing and stay dry. Drink warm beverages to help your body stay warm and avoid alcohol since it can impair judgment and make the body lose heat faster.”
With the forecast for bitter cold temperatures, the hospital also issued the following guidelines for dealing with frostbite and hypothermia.
· Frostbite occurs as a result of poor blood circulation caused by frigid temperatures. The affected skin first turns pale and develops a tingling or stinging sensation. This is followed by a feeling of pain and discomfort, then numbness. To treat this type of mild case of frostbite, seek shelter from the cold and try to bring the affected area to room temperature or slightly higher. You can even use your own body to do this, simply by putting frostbitten hands under your armpits; or you can use lukewarm water to soak the frostbitten area.
· Never treat frostbite by using hot water or any other heat source, and never rub frostbitten skin. The affected area must be warmed gradually.
· The severity of frostbite is sometimes difficult to predict, because it can take several days before the total extent of damage is seen. Mild frostbite turns skin yellow or grayish; the affected skin remains soft and pliable, but becomes red and flaky when thawing.
· In more severe cases, blisters or sores may develop in one or two days. Do not break the blisters.
· A deeper frostbite turns skin purple or blue when it thaws. People with these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention. Treatment is usually similar to treatment of a burn, with antibiotic cream applied to the skin.
· Hypothermia’s warning signs are stiff muscles, shivering, puffy or swollen face, cold skin, slowed breathing, poor physical coordination, and mental confusion and irritability. If you experience these symptoms, seek warm shelter and call 911 for emergency assistance.
· If you encounter a hypothermia victim, dial 911. Be careful in handling the person because the heart is very weak when the body is cold.
· Insulate the victim with any available covering, such as blankets, towels, pillows, scarves or newspapers.
· Do not attempt to re-warm the victim by applying hot water bottles, electric blankets or any other heat source. Do not give the victim any food or drink. Do not elevate the feet, which can cause cold blood to flow into the body's core and lessen what heat remains.
“If you have a friend, relative or neighbor who lives alone or is elderly or has a disability, check on them,” said Durnil.