6 ways you should be protecting your body in sub-freezing temperatures

As residents in the greater Cincinnati area deal with record low temperatures ranging from minus-5 to minus-10, those who work outside or anyone heading outdoors needs to take extra precautions with their body and clothing, according to medical expert from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine.

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The record for the coldest temperature on Jan. 2 is minus-5 degrees, according to meteorologists from Storm Center 7, leaving Tuesday as a new record for the area with more of the same forecast this week.

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Dr. Dustin Calhoun is an assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the UC College of Medicine. He told this news outlet that there are plenty of hazards when dealing with these types of historic low temperatures.

Calhoun also specializes in hypothermia and wilderness medicine, so he added some insights on how to stay warm for those who are working or need to be outside, noting that protecting vital area on the body is critical when dealing with bone chilling temperatures.

1. Pile it on

“Layering is the best answer,” Calhoun said. “People like to have just one jacket on or so, but what keeps you warm is non-circulating air. So, the more air you can trap around your body, the warmer you will stay.

2. Protect your head

“People don’t always thing to have a hat on even if it is not the warmest of hats, anything on your head will keep you a little bit warmer,” Calhoun said. “Otherwise, you lose a large portion of your heat through your head because of the large amount of blood vessels that we have in our heads and our scalps.”

3. Protect your hands (especially your valuable palms)

He added, “our hands are another one actually. It has been shown that you can warm or cool the body using the palms of the hands. What we follow from that is the idea that if you keep your hands exposed in this weather the body will become colder.”

4. No nips to get warm

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“Drinking alcohol is the worst thing you can do in the cold because it essentially reverses everything your body is trying to do in order to stay warm,” he explained. “You hear people say, ‘Let’s have a little nip to get warm,’ but when your body gets cold it shunts blood away from your extremities, moving it inward to protect vital organs and circulate it to your brain. Alcohol will dilate blood vessels, reversing what your body is trying to do.”

5. Vaseline: Not the easiest, but it works

Vaseline is good for adding a layer of protection to the skin by helping holding heat to the body Calhoun says, saying although it is not the “easiest or cleanest way to stay warm,” but works like how some natives stay warm.

“A lot of Alaskans natives will use some sort of blubber or fat product on their skin as a protection like that,” Calhoun said. ” So Vaseline is not actually a bad one to do.”

6. More socks? Not always better

Even adding a pair or two of socks needs to be done with care.

“A thicker pair of socks or adding socks to wear in this weather will help as long as they fit the shoes you are wearing,” Calhoun said. “The problem is people try to add socks to the shoes that fit them well with one pair of socks and that can do more damage than good because it compresses the skin and makes it harder to circulate blood through the skin and that can increase your chance of frostbite.”

Dr. Dustin Calhoun, assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the UC College of Medicine, tips for staying safe when working or out in record cold temperatures:

-Layered clothing

-Wear wind breaking layer

-Wear synthetic fabrics or wool

-Always have on hats and good gloves

-Stay well hydrated

-Avoid alcohol

-Consume frequent warm drinks

-Make sure shoes and gloves aren’t too tight -never get wet

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