Surprising cold weather tips that can save lives

Posted on: 9:27 pm, January 2, 2014, by

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)– This week’s bone chilling temperatures present danger to people in the region.

The cold already contributed to the death of 66-year-old Carl Walker.

He had a heart attack while removing snow with a snow blower Thursday in Alton.

Nurses at St. Anthony’s Hospital said the cold weather is something that is dangerous for “people of all ages.”

They say people should wait 30 minutes after waking up to do any physical activity. The blood is more prone to clotting right after someone wakes up.

They also say do not eat a heavy meal because that diverts blood from your heart to your stomach.

They also warn that people should not smoke of drink coffee an hour before or an hour after any physical activity. Both elevate blood pressure.

Below are more cold weather tips.

Before You Shovel Snow

Talk to your doctor before you take on this task of snow shoveling

Avoid shoveling immediately after you awaken as most heart attacks occur early in the morning when blood is more prone to clotting. Wait for at least 30 minutes and warm up

Do not eat heavy meal before shoveling: blood gets diverted from the heart to the stomach

Warm up your muscles before starting by walking for a few minutes or marching in place

Do not drink coffee or smoke for at least one hour before or one hour after shoveling or during breaks. These are stimulants and elevate your blood pressure and heart rate

While Shoveling Snow

Use a small shovel: shovel many small loads instead of heavy ones

Begin slowly and take frequent, 15 minute breaks

Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration

Dress in layers, to avoid hypothermia (low body temperature) or overheating

Cover your head and neck (50% body heat lost thru head and neck)

Cover your mouth (breathing cold air can cause angina or trigger breathing problems

Watch for warning signs of a heart attack, lightheadedness, dizziness, being short of breath or if  you have tightness or burning inchest, neck, arms or back. If you think you are having a heart attack call 911.

The symptoms of hypothermia (cold exposure) include confusion and disorientation, dizziness, exhaustion, and profound shivering. Frostbite may be suspected with gray, yellowish, or white skin discoloration, a waxy feel to the skin, along with numbness to the involved area of the body. Those with medical conditions should consult with their medical professional to determine their limitations during weather like we are experiencing.