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updated: 1/22/2013 12:17 PM

Here's the cold truth about weathering winter

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David Hass

DUPAGE COUNTY--With the coldest temperatures in two years blanketing DuPage County for the next several days, the DuPage County Health Department offers the following precautions to keep residents safe and comfortable.

If going outdoors is necessary, here are some tips on staying safe and warm:

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• Wear several layers of lightweight clothing rather than one or two layers of heavy garments. The air between the layers of clothing acts as insulation to keep you warmer.

• Cover your head. You lose as much as 50 percent of your body heat through your head.

• Wear mittens rather than fingered gloves. The contact of your fingers keeps your hands warmer.

• Wear warm leg coverings and heavy socks or two pairs of lightweight socks. Wear waterproof boots or sturdy shoes that give you maximum traction.

• Cover your ears and the lower part of your face. The ears, nose, chin and forehead are most susceptible to frostbite.

• Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect the lungs from directly inhaling extremely cold air.

• Use sunglasses to protect your eyes from winter glare.

Frostbite

When spending long periods of time outdoors during cold weather, be alert for signs of frostbite. It initially occurs in the nose, ears, fingers and toes, and can happen at any temperature below 32 degrees. Frostbitten skin is whitish and feels numb. Children are especially susceptible to frostbite because they can become so engrossed in their play that they overlook discomfort.

To treat frostbitten skin, do not rub the area, since friction can cause further skin damage. Seek medical attention immediately. Warm the affected parts of the body with warm water for 20 to 40 minutes. Wrap the frostbitten area in blankets, sweaters, etc.

For a list of heating centers in DuPage County visit: http://www.dupageco.org/clientservices/

For more information on the DuPage County Health Department, follow us on Twitter @DuPageHD or become a fan on Facebook.

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