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How To Stay Safe in Cold Weather

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Do you know what to do to stay safe in cold weather? Megan Nollet and Bruce Gulland share tips about staying safe in the extreme cold.

Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Megan Nollet.

Voice 2

And I’m Bruce Gulland. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Click here to follow along with this program on YouTube.

Voice 1

Imagine you are walking through a forest full of pine trees. A thin layer of snow covers the branches. And underneath, the hills are layered with mounds of snow and ice. It is hard to walk through. But the air is fresh, and the cold makes you feel alive. It is one of the most beautiful winter days you could think of.

Voice 2

But a day like this can also turn deadly. Freezing temperatures can cause serious injury, and even death. The Lancet Planetary Health is a medical journal. In 2021, they published a study led by a team of researchers in Australia and China. The study found that almost half a million people die from extreme heat every year. But over four and a half million people die from extreme cold every year. More than half of the deaths from extreme cold were in eastern and southern Asia. Sub-Saharan Africa also had the highest cold-related death rate by population.

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People often do not recognize the changes in their bodies in cold weather. Or they may not know what to do to avoid the dangers of cold weather. Today’s Spotlight is on how to stay safe in cold weather.

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One of the biggest dangers of the cold is called hypothermia. A person gets hypothermia when their body temperature gets too low. The human body naturally regulates its own temperature. When it is too hot, we sweat. When it is too cold, our bodies try to make heat. When a person is in the cold, it is almost like they are exercising. Their body is working extra hard to keep the temperature at the right level.

Voice 1

But sometimes, the body cannot create heat fast enough. Or, it has no more energy to use. When this happens, the body’s temperature begins to drop. Soon after, the brain stops working correctly. This is one of the first signs of hypothermia. A person with hypothermia may have a difficult time remembering things. They may be confused, tired, or have a difficult time moving. This makes it even more difficult to get help.

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Hypothermia usually happens when a person is out in the cold for too long or they are not wearing enough clothing. Without proper clothing, the body will lose heat even more quickly. Strong wind can also lead to hypothermia. If it is very windy, the air will carry off heat from the body faster. This is why windy weather feels colder than it actually is. It causes us to lose more heat.

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When a person has hypothermia, it is important to help them as soon as possible. Here is how you can do that. Bring them inside into a warm room. If they are awake, make them a warm drink. Try to warm the center of their body first: the chest, neck, head, and groin. Keep the person dry. If they have wet clothes, remove them. When a person is wet, their body will lose heat faster. Keep them wrapped in dry blankets. And most importantly, get them emergency help.

Voice 2

Being in the extreme cold can also lead to frostbite. Frostbite is an injury where part of a person’s body freezes. When this happens, the water in their body turns into ice crystals. These crystals damage the body parts. And they make it impossible for blood to flow. Frostbite usually affects the body’s smaller parts like toes, fingers, cheeks, nose, and ears. A person who has frostbite will not be able to feel the affected area. The skin will get hard and change color. In extreme cases, frostbite can damage organs and skin.

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If you have never been in the cold, it can be difficult to understand the unique pain of frostbite. It is like being burned. But you are being burned by the cold. With very bad cases of frostbite, a person might not even feel it. Sir Ranulph Fiennes is a famous explorer who once had a bad case of frostbite. He was exploring in the artic when his supplies fell in the water. He had to reach in to pull them out. He told the magazine Esquire what happened next:

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“The water was not all that cold. It was probably about 30 degrees Fahrenheit. But when I got my arm out of the water, it started getting cold very quickly. My fingers felt like dead wood. I could not bend them.”

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Sir Fiennes had fourth-degree frostbite in his fingers. There are four different types, or degrees, of frostbite. A person with a fourth-degree frostbite may never feel the affected area again. The area may die. In the most extreme cases, it may even fall off. In Sir Fiennes’ case, he lost most of his fingers. He was very lucky to not lose his hand.

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If someone has frostbite, it is very important to get them to a warm place. Place the affected area in warm water. Keep the area protected. Do not touch the area with frostbite. Moving or rubbing the area can cause more damage. When the area has warmed again, give the person pain medication. When blood returns to a frostbitten area, it can be very painful. You should also get them emergency care. Doctors may be able to save an area from dying.

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Many people may not recognize symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite. But it is important to know how to prevent them. Here are some suggestions on how to stay safe in cold weather:

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Wear layers of clothing and cover all areas of skin. Wearing the proper clothing is very important in cold weather. It will keep the heat of your body close to your body. And clothing will protect you from the wind. It is very important to cover your nose, ears, fingers, and toes. These areas keep the least heat. They are very vulnerable to frostbite.

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Keep yourself dry. If you are sweating in cold weather, you may be wearing too much. Take off a layer of clothing. You will still be protected, but you will not be wet.

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Avoid drinking alcohol when you are in the cold for a long time. Alcohol opens up a person’s blood vessels. Blood will rush away from the important parts of a person’s body. Blood carries heat. So, a person will lose heat in the important areas of the body.

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Know your body. Some people may suffer more from the cold. These include older people, and people with bad circulation. These people should avoid being out in the cold for too long.

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Finally, keep active. The body warms in the cold naturally. Staying active will help keep the body warm.

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Do you have experience with the cold? What tips or tricks do you have to stay warm? You can leave a comment on our website at www.spotlightenglish.com. You can also find us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Voice 1

The writer of this program was Dan Christmann. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. This program is called: How to Stay Safe in Cold Weather.

Voice 2

Visit our website to download our free official app for Android and Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Is cold weather a concern where you live?

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20 comments
  • The weather we have are hardly ever cold. so that, we not worry about the winter.
    if we have winter i think i wear a layer of clothes maybe if we had cold weather

  • Thanks so much for bring us these useful and interesting programs. I have to tell that you that in my country even in my region, fortunately, the cold weather is not a concern. Actually mostly of the concern is based in the rainy weather. Greetings from Caracas Venezuela.

  • Hello, spotlight in fact I don’t have experience to safe in cold because I don’t go to away placec mountains but you should dress good jaket. In fact the basic things that you need to be in safe in cold is good jacet and you shouldn’t go to the snow places but if you go you should in clever it means: dressing good clothes and you should be clever in clever in cold and the most important thing is you should be warm.

  • Comparing the hot weather and cold weather in my own country, I don’t see that the people living in the country are much worrying about cold weather

  • Comparing the hot weather and cold weather in my own country, I don’t see that the people living in the country are giving more concern to cold weather

  • Yeah it depends on your location in the earth as it is cold in South and North poles and the erae where is far from tropics

  • I’m from Sudan so the weather here is so hot temperatures like 35-45 degrees then we don’t have any experience about the cold weather

  • Yes, because if we are in a normal wither nothing will happen since our baddies controle its heat normally at some temperatures of course wearing the proper clothes but sometimes the body can’t be able to control its heat at low temperatures
    So we should wear more clothes and try to not stay too long at this cold weather to avoid frostbite .

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