The Institute of Public and Labor Health of Navarra (ISPLN/NOPLOI) recalls the need to be extremely careful in the face of the next low temperature risk warning for this Friday, February 10 in Navarra, where the predictions of the State Meteorological Agency (AEMET) and The Ministry of Health indicates that the minimum temperature reaches -4.6ºC, which is below the established limit (-3.7ºC).
The ‘National Plan for Preventive Action Due to Low Temperature’, implemented from December 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023 and promoted by the Ministry of Health, states that severe cold negatively affects health directly and indirectly. The plan establishes actions for prevention and control, structured into different levels of action according to the risk reached as a result of the drop in temperature. In any case, the effects of low temperatures usually do not occur in such a rapid and sudden manner as in the case of high temperatures. The plan indicates that cold is an environmental risk factor that should be taken into account and that its health impact may be greater than that of extreme heat.
The established temperature for Navarra in Pamplona/Iruña this year is -3.7ºC. The scheme establishes three levels of alert, and their assignment is made by the Ministry of Health with reference to the minimum temperature forecast for three days with a specific methodology.
Taking into account the forecast for the next few days, Navarra is at Alert 1 or low risk on Friday, February 10. Today on Thursday the minimum temperature has reached -3.1ºC.
In this context, it is important to inform the public of general recommendations to avoid the most risky situations.
- Outside, breathe through the nose, not the mouth, as the air warms up as it passes through the nostrils and thus reduces the cold that reaches the lungs.
- Extreme caution in case of snow. A high percentage of cold-related injuries result from slipping on sheets of ice. If possible, wear non-slip footwear.
- It should be taken into account that several layers of thin clothing protect more than one thick clothing, by creating an insulating air chamber between them.
- If the brazier is used at home or in a fireplace, ventilate the room frequently to prevent the accumulation of carbon monoxide. At least twice a day, for 15 minutes each time, to ensure air renewal. It is convenient to switch off electric and gas stoves at night.
- Don’t take over-the-counter medications, be aware that some medications can worsen the effects of exposure to cold.
- Eat a varied diet and if possible, eat fruits and vegetables daily. Drink fluids even if you are not thirsty, especially water and hot drinks, and avoid alcohol, as it dulls the sensation of cold.
- Check the weather forecast before you leave home.
- Although problems related to low temperature can happen to anyone, try to pay more attention to people who are more vulnerable to cold. If necessary, contact your health care professional.
- Vaccination against influenza and coronavirus is recommended in people aged 60 years and above and those who suffer from chronic disease (cardiopulmonary, metabolic and immunocompromised).
On the other hand, only in the most extreme cases, exposure to very low temperatures leads to hypothermia and frostbite.
- Hypothermia is the condition of suffering from an abnormally low body temperature that can occur in conditions of intense cold and our body may begin to lose heat faster than our thermoregulation system can compensate for.
- Frostbite results in the form of injuries to a person’s body due to temperatures below the freezing point. Warning signs of frostbite are numbness of the skin, white or pale skin, or numb and firm skin.
When this occurs, it is important to avoid walking if your feet or toes are frozen, as this can aggravate an existing injury. Douse the injured area in warm but not hot water. Alternatively, you can also use your body heat to warm the affected area on contact. Keep in mind that injured areas have less sensitivity, are numb and can burn without our noticing it.
To prevent these situations, it is convenient to protect the most vulnerable, such as the elderly, the homeless and those suffering from poverty or low economic status, especially when it manifests itself as energy poverty as well as immigrants. precarious position; People with chronic diseases likely to worsen in situations of prolonged stress; pregnant women; newborns and infants; people who take medicines that can aggravate the symptoms associated with a cold; people with reduced mobility, malnourished, cases of physical exhaustion or alcohol poisoning; people who work outside; or those who practice outdoor sports in colder regions. Similarly, recommendations for companies and the working population are also included.
Finally, with cold and snow storms it is convenient to keep in mind the general recommendations, such as avoiding any unnecessary displacement.