10 of the Worst Winter Health Hazards

From falls to frost bite -- how to sidestep potential perils this season (11 Photos)

Jill Provost on Feb 7, 2011 at 12:41PM

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10 of the Worst Winter Health Hazards

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Brace for the Cold

People who get unexpectedly caught in the cold, like when their car breaks down, can fall victim to hypothermia. Being outdoors while you're wet is especially dangerous. In Lynn, Mass., a woman trying out a new pair of snowshoes recently suffered hypothermia when she accidentally fell waist-deep into a snow-covered swamp. "If you get wet and you're out in the elements, you lose more heat that way -- the moisture puts you at risk," says emergency physician Kathleen Cowling, D.O., M.S., F.A.C.E.P., If you're soaked, temperatures don't even have to be below freezing for hypothermia to occur, she says. Signs of hypothermia include clumsiness, drowsiness, apathy, slurred speech and confusion. Your best defense: Stay warm and dry. Dress in layers and keep your head covered. Being well-fed and hydrated will also help. Skip the hot toddies -- alcohol makes you lose heat.
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