Hypothermia warning signs

Dr. Dorian Drigalla, Scott & White Memorial Hospital emergency physician, talks about the warning signs of hypothermia Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. The low temperature Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, is expected to be 16 degrees.

Janice Gibbs | FME News Service

TEMPLE — With cold weather, hypothermia is a concern.

As of Monday morning, the Scott & White Emergency Department hadn’t seen any individuals with hypothermia recently, said Dr. Dorian Drigalla, emergency physician.

Hypothermia is a lower than usual core temperature, typically lower than 95 degrees.

“It’s kind of the opposite of a fever,” Drigalla said.

The lower the temperature gets, the more effect it has on function, which can manifest as confusion, he said.

Lower body temperatures can affect the body’s organs, particularly the heart.

“The heart becomes irritable at cold temperatures,” Drigalla said.

Babies, infants and toddlers have less insulating warmth and fewer reserves to generate their own heat through shivering.

For the older crowd, another sign of overexposure to the cold is someone who continues to shiver after getting into a warmer environment, he said.

If it looks like someone has hypothermia, the first thing to do, Drigalla said, is to move the person into a warmer location and get them into warm clothes, especially if the clothes are wet.

Even minimal moisture can make the individual feel much colder, much like wind.

With cold temperatures, it’s advisable to wear multiple, breathable layers of clothes and to protect the head, neck, face, fingers and toes. The outer layer should be wind and water blocking.

Frostbite is another concern, Drigalla said. When temperatures are in the teens, frostbite can happen in 20 to 40 minutes with direct exposure to the cold, depending on the person’s health.

Temple warming centers

Temple opened a warming center Sunday at Transformation Station, 503 E. Central Ave., for men.

On Monday, an additional warming center opened at Victory Ministries, 305 S. 18th St., for men.

The warming centers are open from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. and resources are available to provide a warming location for women and children should the need arise.

“One person stayed at Transformation Station on Sunday,” said Thomas Pechal, Temple Fire and Rescue spokesman.

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