Dr. Justin Benoit at U.C. Medical Center says the elderly run a higher risk of cold related injuries. Beta blockers, a medication taken by many senior citizens, make the human body more susceptible to cold injuries according to Dr. Benoit.
He also says the elderly may not feel the cold weather as much as a younger person, and the sub freezing temperatures we're expecting bring a higher risk of hypothermia and frost bite.
"Frost bite is where your hands get a little cold and a little numb, but if the whole body gets cold then it could actually cause changes in mental status, causing confusion where a person isn't answering questions like they normally do. They can get drowsy, they might be slurring their speech or it can even lead to unconsciousness if the cold injury gets worse enough and that's a true medical emergency."
When those emergencies occur it is usually the fire department who responds to the weather-related incidents. District Fire Chief Greg Potter says even trying to stay warm can be hazardous.
"When you're heating make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors. that's a big issue around this time of year," says Potter. He also urges people to not use their stove for heat because the lack of ventilation in stoves can lead to more carbon monoxide.
Potter says freezing temperatures make fighting fires even more hazardous as well. Officials say clearing a path to your front door, clearing snow away from fire hydrants and making sure your house address numbers remain visible are important steps people can do to help fire fighters during the winter months.