Save a Life: Recognize “Cold Stress”

Time to check in on your neighbors!

It's that time of year where if you take just five minutes to go check up on your neighbor or your mom or dad, you may literally save their life. When it gets so bitterly cold, like it has been off and on recently, seniors are more vulnerable. The cold can turn dangerous pretty fast if they're not properly protected.

Here are some tips on how to recognize and prevent Cold Stress, from Sharon Congleton, health promotion nurse supervisor at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA).

For more information on coping with the cold, and on resources available, visit; or call the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040.

Symptoms of Cold Stress:

  • Sleepiness (difficulty waking up)
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of coordination
  • Uncontrolled shivering
  • Weak, slow pulse
  • Slow breathing
  • Puffy face
  • Cold, stiff muscles
  • Trembling of one side of the body or in one arm or leg
  • Change in behavior or personality
How To Reduce the Risk of Cold Stress:
  • Stay warm and dry, indoors and outdoors
  • Avoid exposure to snow, wind, rain and water/dampness
  • Dress warmly
  • Wear loose layers of clothing, especially woolens
  • Cover head and neck (wear a hat and scarf)
  • Wear gloves or mittens
  • Change socks and long underwear if they become damp or wet
  • Wear warm shoes and socks
  • Keep skin and clothing dry to lessen the chance of frostbite
  • Eat nutritious meals on a regular basis, especially a hot meal
  • Drink a lot of fluids
    Individuals taking medication for high blood pressure, nervousness, depression, poor circulation or sleeplessness, talk about hypothermia/cold stress with your doctor.
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