The New York State Department of Health (DOH) has issued a health advisory warning of severe cold.
Home care providers are advised to communicate with their patients during and immediately following the period of extreme cold in order to perform safety checks.
The advisory states that home care staff should observe the temperature at a patient’s home upon visit, and includes signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite for staff to look for, which include the following:
Hypothermia. Signs and symptoms: shivering; confusion; memory loss; drowsiness; exhaustion; slurred speech; glassy stare; slow, irregular pulse; numbness; and decreased level of consciousness.
To manage: remove all wet/cold clothing; place individual in dry blankets/clothing; if conscious, provide them a warm beverage; seek/provide medical attention if further treatment is required.
Frostbite. Signs and symptoms: any discoloration of the skin such as flushed, white, yellow, or blue depending on the length of exposure; waxy appearance of skin; and lack of feeling or numbness.
To manage: handle the frost bitten area gently; do not rub the area; expose the affected area to a source of warmth.