Sun, Feb 04, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Doctors warn on dangers of snow, low temperatures

DRAMATIC LOWS:Doctors urged the public to wear snow boots, gloves and several layers of clothing, to carefully adjust to the cold air and to watch out with contact lenses

By Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff writer, with CNA

A man yesterday walks down the stairs at the Taipingshan National Park in Yilan County, which received the third snowfall of the year. Physicians urged the public to keep warm as a cold surge gripped Taiwan, sending temperatures plunging across the nation and bringing snow to several places.

Photo: Lin Ching-lun, Taipei Times

Emergency-room doctors warned people who want to visit the snow to take measures against cold-induced health problems as low temperatures and snowfall approached.

A cold surge gripped Taiwan yesterday, sending temperatures plunging across the country and bringing snow to Yushan (玉山) and Hehuanshan (合歡山), the Central Weather Bureau said.

From 4:30am to 5:50am yesterday, snowfall of up to 6mm was recorded on Yushan, and 5mm of snow was recorded in the morning on Yilan County’s Taipingshan (太平山), the bureau said.

Most important when observing the snowfall is to stay warm, emergency-room doctor and travel health management consultant Wang Shih-hao (王士豪) said.

People should layer their clothes, with sweat-resistant shirts as the innermost layer, warm clothing as the middle layer and clothing made of waterproof and breathable fabric as the outer layer, he said.

People should not wear jeans, as they are difficult to dry once they get wet, Wang said.

“It is best to wear synthetic fiber pants lined with fleece,” Wang said.

As for shoes, it is best to wear snow boots, Wang said, adding that people should not wear regular running shoes or leather shoes, because their soles are more slippery on ice or wet ground.

People should wear hats — preferably ones that cover the temples and ears — to prevent cold air from overstimulating blood vessels in the brain, which might cause headaches or even increase the risk of cerebrovascular disease, Wang said.

People with cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, high blood pressure or other diseases are most vulnerable to vasoconstriction or large changes in blood pressure induced by big and rapid temperature changes, he added.

Cars have heating, but the temperature might drop rapidly once people step out of their cars, Wang said, adding that he recommended lowering the car windows first and adjusting to the cold air before stepping outside.

At temperatures below 0°C, contact lenses might also freeze and stick to the cornea, he added.

Apart from low temperatures, visitors who are traveling to Hsuehshan (雪山) or other mountains to observe the snow should also beware of altitude sickness, Taipei Medical University Hospital department of emergency medicine director Kao Wei-feng (高偉峰) said.

Since the mountains often see traffic jams in winter, people might spend a lot of time at higher elevations, increasing the risk of acute altitude sickness, Kao said.

According to this year’s edition of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Health Information for International Travel, people who are traveling to altitudes above 2,800m should consider preparing medication that prevents altitude sickness, Kao said.

Frostbite can also occur at low temperatures, Kao said, adding that people should wear gloves that cover their hands completely instead of fingerless gloves.

If people experience frostbite, they can soak their hands in warm water to minimize the damage, he added.

Temperatures across the nation are to drop even lower over the next two days, particularly in northern Taiwan, where they could fall below 10°C for more than 48 hours, the bureau said.

Mountains higher than 1km in northern Taiwan and mountains higher than 1km in the center and south might see snowfall, weather bureau forecaster Cheng Cheng-chuan (張承傳) added.

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