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Dangerous Cold Weather Poses Health Risks

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Extreme cold can pose a health threat to everyone, but the single-digit temperatures in the Ozarks' forecast could be especially dangerous to older people.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Extreme cold can pose a health threat to everyone, but the single-digit temperatures in the Ozarks' forecast could be especially dangerous to older people.

"Well, it's hard on older people, very much, especially this kind of weather," senior Jackie Jenkins said. "We know it's going to be bad over the weekend."

With dangerously cold weather expected in the coming days comes a cause for concern about cold-related illness, like hypothermia, when body heat is lost and internal temperatures fall.

Stiff muscles, prolonged shivering, swelling in the face, a loss of coordination, irregular breathing and heart rate, confusion and even the loss of consciousness are all signs of hypothermia.

"I say keep your heat on 65 degrees," Cynthia Lavoie at the Council on Aging in Springfield said.

Lavoie said everyone, elderly people especially, needs to take extra precautions to keep warm.

"If you have to wear a hat inside your house, and mittens and coats inside your house to keep warm, then do that. use plenty of blankets, socks, just stay warm," Lavoie said.

Brad Cox has been volunteering with the Office on Aging at the Northview Center for eight years. He helps coordinate their Daily Bread meal service for elderly locals who can't leave their home.

"Some of these folks don't have any family nearby, and we have found people who have needed help and had to call ambulances and there's no way of telling how long they'd have been there if I drivers had not come by," Cox said.

He said it's important that everyone keep an eye out when the temperatures plummet.

"Found some homes that the heat has been out completely and the senior didn't know what to do, and so we help them."


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