The caregivers of the elderly and young children must take care to prevent hypothermia in these days of extreme cold and wetness, Safed’s Ziv Hospital cautioned on Tuesday.

The elements can bring body temperatures down below 35 degrees Celsius, posing serious health dangers that could even be fatal.

The hospital’s emergency room said it was prepared to treat patients suffering from frostbite and hypothermia. Its supply of warm intravenous fluids, as well as blankets and heaters, has received a boost. It urged family members to ensure that the young and old were dressed properly for weather conditions indoors and outdoors.

Dr. Yulia Waxman, head of the geriatric department, said the combination of physiological and behavioral factors makes these age groups very susceptible to harm in the winter.

If an elderly person lives alone, one should call him or her frequently to ask if he or she feels well, is warm, has enough good food to eat and can call for help if needed.

The home should be heated to 24 degrees Celsius, and one should make sure heating devices are safe. Clothing should be comfortable, and mild exercise is recommended to boost blood circulation.

The elderly and babies should drink water frequently and consume warm food to preserve body heat. Also, caregivers should make sure the elderly get influenza and pneumonia vaccinations. Children from the age of six months should be vaccinated against the flu.

Waxman added that the individual’s personal physician should be consulted about whether the person is taking medications that increase sensitivity to the cold.

Parents should postpone bringing young children who do not feel well to visit grandparents and other elderly people until the children recover, so they do not spread infection.

Esther Imbar, the chief nurse in Ziv’s pediatric department, said that babies should wear warm caps as well as layers of light clothing, since their heads emit the most heat. In addition, parents should not put the baby’s crib next to an exterior wall, if possible, because that increases the cold. Babies should be put to sleep on their backs, and they should not be overheated, she said.

Meanwhile, Magen David Adom has prepared for coping with the freezing temperatures and snow in high places.

Dozens of front-wheel-drive vehicles have been prepared, as have snow chains for ambulances.

Medics and paramedics have reviewed instructions for dealing with hypothermia and how to get patients to hospitals rapidly and safely.

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