Doctors warn this week’s cold temperatures could be life-threatening


Doctors are advising that people take extra precaution and be ready for the elements as temperatures dip below zero this week.

“Surviors participate in their survival,” said Dr. John Pakiela, an EMS Director for Mercyhealth.

Frigid temperatures play a big factor in making simple winter chores, like shoveling sidewalks, into something potentially life-threatening.

“We’ve seen a couple heart attacks…and cardiac arrest from [physical activity,” Dr. Pakiela said.

Dr. Pakiela says people who suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, or have had a heart attack in the past should not be out in this cold.

When the human body is exposed to low temperatures, a race against the clock begins.

“The body reacts by, obviously, trying to keep its core warm, so it shunts blood away from the surface of the skin, which is potentially harmful as well, because we’re shunting blood to the core. We don’t have warm blood at the surface of the skin, so that can lead to some problems as well,” he said.,

For Rockford’s homeless, the Rockford Rescue Mission offers a place to shelter from the cold.

“If someone needs to get in and out of the cold, they can come right into one of our men’s or women’s centers. They can talk to the staff that’s on  duty and come into the day room,” said Greg Cooney, Director of Programs at the Rockford Rescue Mission. “At the end of the day, at about 4:30, if that individual needs a warm place to stay that night, they can go through our intake process and give their basic demographic information and we meet that need for them, that night.”

Dr. Pakiela says everyone should use their best judgement, and if the risk versus the reward is too high, they should just stay inside.

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