Doctor: Frigid temps put elderly at risk of hypothermia

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — We’re all affected when temperatures dip below zero, but a local doctor says the elderly are especially at risk when it gets that cold.

Hats, gloves, scarves, boots – New Englanders have cold, windy weather figured out. But even though people are bundled up, frostbite and hypothermia are very real threats.

“With temperatures this cold, you can get frostbite on your fingers very quickly,” said Dr. Megan Ranney, who works in the emergency department at Miriam Hospital.

Dr. Ranney says the elderly are especially at risk for cold weather injuries.

“For older folks or people who are already sick, they don’t have the reserves to keep their warmth up when it gets this cold,” she explained. “Frostbite is less common, we most often see it in people that are spending large amounts of time outside. Hypothermia, again we see mostly in the old, rarely in young folks, but little kids are at higher risk.”

Stay Safe: Winter Weather Resource Guide >>
Stay Safe: Winter Weather Resource Guide >>

Even though the risk is out there, the solution remains simple.

“The most important thing is to not spend too much time outside, and if you do – stay bundled,” said Dr. Ranney.

If you have elderly family members or neighbors, you should make it a point to check on them and make sure their heat is working properly.

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