Doctor's orders: 'Wear lots of protective gear for the cold'

Doctor's orders: 'Wear lots of protective gear for the cold'

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by DIANA RUGG / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @DianaRuggwcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on January 5, 2014 at 11:56 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 6 at 7:09 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The coldest weather in 20 years makes its way into the Piedmont this week and if you’re not used to bundling up, now is a good time to start.

Meteorologists forecast single-digit cold for the Charlotte area Tuesday morning, with wind chills in the negative numbers.

“Make sure you're wearing a coat, gloves, hat, scarves -- lots of protective gear,” warns urgent care physician Dr. Crystal Bowe. “Make sure it doesn't get wet, and if it does get wet you're going to need to change into something dry to help keep yourself protected.”

One of the biggest mistakes people make, she said, is not keeping track of how long they’ve been outside in cold weather.  It’s easy to lose track when skating, skiing, or playing.

“Make sure if you go outside, you're keeping track of how long you've been out there,” said Dr. Bowe. “Make sure you take some breaks.”

Families skating at the Holiday on Ice rink on NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza Sunday appeared to take that advice.  Even though temperatures Sunday evening were in the low 40’s, skaters of all ages were bundled up.

“We made sure everybody has gloves and everybody has a good layer underneath, and a jacket that's waterproof,” said Lisa Ellis as she tied skates for her daughter and a friend. 

And as for keeping track of the time?  “They all come in when they're cold,” she said.

Though at least one youngster made circles around the ice with no jacket, most look satisfied with wearing coats and hats.

Dr. Bowe said it’s also important to know the right way to warm up when fingers and toes get too cold.

“You want warm dry heat -- not burning, scalding hot, but something warm and dry,” she said.  “You want to consistently warm yourself up.”

Don’t run numb fingers under hot water, she said, because you might not be able to tell how hot the water really is.  That could lead to painful burns.  

A warm drink like soup or tea will help, too.  But safety first – if you’re using a space heater, oil or kerosene, or a fireplace, make sure it’s used safely so it doesn’t start a fire or burn someone sitting too close.

And give yourself time to warm up completely before you go outside again, said Dr. Bowe, so you don’t repeat an emergency.

“You don't want to warm yourself up for a couple of minutes -- not completely warm your hands and feet -- and go right back out into the cold weather,” she said.  “That's not good.”
 

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