HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - With winter weather striking the Pine Belt, a local doctor explained hypothermia and how you can protect yourself from cold weather and not become a victim.
"It's really important you stay as warm as possible," said Dr. Daniel Crane, who is the Medical Director of Emergency Medicine at Merit Health Wesley.
It's time to put on the layers and bundle up if you have to get outside and brave the cold weather. Protecting yourself from cold temperatures is critical for you to avoid the risk of hypothermia.
"And try to limit any exposed skin," Crane said. "Try and dress in layers. Wear gloves, a scarf, hat and weatherproof clothing. If your clothing gets wet take it off immediately and get to a warm place. The water conducts the cold a lot faster than air does. So, if you have wet clothing you can get cold really fast which can be really dangerous."
Hypothermia is when your entire body temperature drops from a common 98 degrees. Crane said the elderly, infants and children are more at risk. Here are symptoms you should be aware of.
"It can be really severe so, mild hypothermia is when you just drop a few degrees," Crane said. "You will be shivering, feel cold and just want to go back inside. But when it gets really severe you can start to have slurred speech, be confused and that's when you can start making bad decisions and start doing things to make it worse. When your body temperature gets below 95 degrees is when we get really concerned and want you to be in the hospital."
When exhaustion sets in, eventually it can affect your brain, which can be severe or even deadly. Crane said to warm your body, start with the heart. You can do this by applying hot blankets to your body and don't hesitate to come to the emergency room if needed. It is equipped with special tools to treat hypothermia.