Monthly Archives: December 2015

Cold Weather Tips for the Elderly

Multiple physiological and behavioral factors that are not found in younger people combine to cause and elevate the danger presented by the cold to the elderly. For instance, elderly persons who suffer from chronic illness and take multiple medications are more vulnerable to the cold temperatures. Poor nutrition and dehydration also make the elderly more vulnerable to colder weather. The cold is also felt less by the elderly, so their ability to control their body temperatures is significantly reduced. Even if an older person does feel cold, it is shown that they tend to be more reluctant to heat their homes in order to reduce heating costs.

Although cold weather poses a higher risk for the elderly, there are plenty of tips and tricks to follow throughout the winter months in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

General Risks

The cold, stormy weather is harder on an older body and can pose serious health risks. During the winter months and snowy weather, the body’s temperature can drop below normal levels and cause hypothermia. Hypothermia can cause multi-system injury and a higher risk of mortality at an older age, as it is more common and harmful in the elderly community.

Like hypothermia, many other cold-weather related health risks are more harmful to older individuals when compared to younger people. Slippery streets and paths, colds, and the flu pose difficulties for seniors whose health may already be compromised by chronic illness. Slipping on something like ice and falling is a major risk for older individuals, as fractured hips have an extremely high mortality rate in elderly patients.

Health Habits to Maintain

During the winter, it is crucial to drink a sufficient amount of water throughout the day, even if one does not feel thirsty. It is recommended to drink 8-10 glasses of water per day to maintain proper health. It is also key to know that eating and drinking warm foods and beverages can help to maintain body heat. One should avoid alcohol and caffeine, but be sure to eat frequent, light meals throughout the day.

Most importantly, the elderly community should stay active even if they cannot leave their homes. Being mobile throughout the day raises body heat and increases blood flow.

Prepare Your Home

It is crucial to know and control the temperature of the dwelling. An ideal temperature should range between 68-75 degrees and can be measured by a simple thermometer. The air in a dwelling should not be too dry or too humid. Sufficient humidity is good, but too much humidity can be a cause of illness. Doors, windows, and any openings which lead to the outdoors should be properly sealed so that the house or apartment can easily maintain a proper temperature, but be sure not to restrict normal, proper ventilation as well.

Dress the Part

Layered, warm, and comfortable clothing is important for protecting against harsh winter climates. Clothing should not restrict movement, but keep heat in. Because our metabolism is so slow in the morning due to lack of activity overnight, it is especially important to dress warmly. At night, flannel sheets, socks, and blankets can help to keep elderly individuals at a good body temperature. While it is best to stay out of the winter weather if you are an older adult, gloves and a hat are recommended in addition to a coat if one needs to brave the elements.

Watch for Ice

Falls are extremely common in the elderly community. According to the National Institutes of Health, over 1.6 million older Americans visit the emergency room each year because of fall-related injuries. During the winter, snow, sleet, and ice make for unfit and slippery conditions, but falls can certainly be prevented with these few tips:

  • Stretch to prepare muscles and improve circulation before heading outside
  • Use any device which may assist, like handrails, or a cane or walker
  • Wear non-slip, sensible footwear
  • Stay on clear paths
  • Sprinkle sand or ice on roads or sidewalks

Even with these helpful tips, it is best to minimize the risk of falling by avoiding going outside in bad weather if at all possible.

When weather conditions are suspected to deteriorate, stock up on necessities and be prepared to be inside for at least a few days. Instead of going somewhere, invite others over, exercise, and plan indoor activities.

Be Firm with Loved Ones and Friends

Although cold weather can sometimes cause depression in older individuals, it is important to follow these tips and keep good health as a number one priority. The colder, winter weather may restrict elderly people from some activities; it is important to know the risks before venturing into stormy weather. It may also be good idea to encourage them to take a CPR course or First Aid course


Cold weather does not have to be deadly to the elderly. Using common sense, following the simple tips discussed above, and being proactive with your aged friends and relatives will help ensure that they can enjoy safe and warm winters.

ROTC First Aid Training

First aid training provides the learner with essential skills to use in related careers and various life experiences.

For Army ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corp) cadets, first aid training is even more applicable, as it focuses on tactical care.

The process varies according to the institution where cadets receive first aid training, but follows a set curriculum as established by the Army. In their first year, cadets learn about the role of the Army through its origins, traditions, customs, branches, operations, and tactics.

By sophomore year, cadets are ready to learn the role of an officer through communication, a code of conduct, principles of war, military operations/tactics, and first aid.

Battlefield Preparation

According to Marquette ROTC instructor and Iraq/Afghanistan veteran, Shawn Goggins, “This training replicates battlefield conditions and situations … it is very important they get a solid foundation they can build from.”

Training is usually an all day event, where information and scenarios are provided in the morning, and assessments for comprehension are conducted in the afternoon.

The intention of this training is to provide simulations that are as close to battlefield situations as possible.

This also means that ROTC cadets are taught life-sustaining techniques.

The objective becomes stopping the life-threatening aspect of an injury, rather than taking the time to fully treat it, because this would cause significant loss of time that soldiers do not have on the battlefield.

Carbon Monoxide

ROTC cadets are trained to assess situations according to risk, measuring the level of danger in relation to all affected parties. Potential minefield injuries and carbon monoxide, for example, exemplify extremely high risk.

In the case of carbon monoxide inhalation, the colorless and odorless gas presents signs through the patient’s actions and appearances.


One frequently practiced first aid simulation is burn care.

Cadets must first eliminate the source by covering their patient with any non-synthetic material and rolling them on the ground.

After that, cadets need to assess the patient and the location of their burns. Any located near the neck, nose, and mouth could lead to swelling of the airway, and breathing must be monitored as a result. Cadets continue to look in nose and mouth for carbon materials or singed hair.

Next, cadets remove any jewelry or accessories from hands and fingers. Then they can treat according to the degree of burn, with careful use of ice and cold compresses, and dressings if appropriate.

They are encouraged to avoid breaking blisters and the use of grease, ointment, or dressings on the face or genitalia.

Once preliminary assessments and treatments for the burns are made, cadets must seek medical help.


This systematic approach used for carbon monoxide and burn victims is the same followed by trained cadets in any first aid situation encountered. All first aid personnel can find himself or herself making a life or death situation on a battlefield.

For ROTC cadets, training that focuses on quick, but calculated actions is essential, as their decisions could determine not only the patient’s life, but also their own.

Other ROTC programs train using various simulations of environments that vary from the battlefield to a construction site, or even a peaceful stroll down a city street.

Controlling Blood Loss

Blood loss remains the greatest cause of death on a battlefield, as often there is not the opportunity or the manpower available to treat a soldier who is bleeding out.

As a result, cadets learn how to control bleeding through various wound wrapping methods and the use of tourniquets. These are devices used by compressing a cord or tight bandage around the exposed vein or artery that is the source of the extreme blood loss.

There are also bandages that incorporate anticoagulant solutions. These bandages are essentially stuffed into an open cut, and anywhere it touches will stop the bleeding.

In addition, ROTC cadets can use compression bandages that wrap twice around the area and attach with a clip to apply pressure on open wounds.

These items and various medicinal supplements are found in the ISAK medical kit used by soldiers. Cadets are instructed to first use the medical kit of the injured.

But, regardless of the method, ROTC cadets are reminded to use minimal, yet practical, actions to ensure the wounded can make it to a hospital.

Final Thoughts: Benefits of ROTC Cadet First Aid Training

As cadets receive supervised instruction, hands-on training, and evaluations from instructors, they are developing confidence in their ability to act appropriately and quickly to treat battlefield injuries.

Whether it is through the use of dummies, their fellow cadets, or a simulation that combines both, any instance of first aid training will prove to enhance the skills and capability of an ROTC cadet.

First Aid Treatment for Dog Bites

According to a 2015 survey conducted by the Humane Society, 44% of Americans have at least one dog. Generally loving creatures, dogs are not usually seen as a large threat to humans. Occasionally, though, a dog can bite and cause harm. Dog bites are typically minimal injuries, like when a puppy may nibble on your finger or get a little over-excited when playing with you or a member of the family. In most cases, minor dog bites can normally be treated at home in order to prevent infection. The high level of bacteria in animal saliva makes infection the most common problem associated with dog bites.

How a Dog Bites

Dogs typically bite in certain ways. A dog uses its front teeth to grasp in order to bite down. The other teeth will tug at the surrounding skin. The front teeth will often cause a puncture wound, or deep hole in the skin. Other types of bites will cause injuries more like an abrasion or scrape. Adults are most commonly bit on the hands, legs, arms, and feet, while smaller children are often bitten in the facial area, including their lips, cheeks, and nose.

How to Treat a Minor Dog Bite

Thankfully, most dog bites are minor enough to be treated at home by following these basic first-aid steps:

  • Apply direct and persistent pressure to the wound while preparing to clean.
  • Clean the affected area immediately and thoroughly by using soap to cleanse, and then running it under warm water.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment to reduce the risk of infection, and then cover with a sterile bandage.
  • A bleeding wound is good. If the affected area is not bleeding, encourage it. The flowing blood will prevent bacteria from entering the body and infecting it.
  • It is then advised to take some sort of over-the-counter pain relief, such as ibuprofen or Advil. This will also reduce inflammation.
  • Seek medical advice afterward in order to proceed, unless the dog bite is extremely minor. There is always a chance of infection.

The final, follow-up step is very important when treating a dog bite properly. A healthcare provider can get a more thorough, educated look at the wound. It is possible that your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic if the wound was not cleaned well enough. Anti-rabies treatments and tetanus shots are also possibilities if you were dealing with a stray or unknown animal. With the help of a professional, you can be sure that the bite is not infected. If there is not follow up with a professional, the bite may become infected later on and cause harmful or even deadly consequences, which could have otherwise been prevented.

Drawing Blood and Deep Wounds

If an animal draws blood, at a minimum you need to get a tetanus shot. Although most dog bites are easily treatable, there are severe instances professional medical treatment may be necessary when the bite is especially deep or profound. If the bite occurred on a sensitive area of the body like the face or thigh, or if the animal is a stray, you should definitely see a doctor. Dogs can carry an array of diseases if not regularly treated by a veterinarian.

What to Do if the Bite Appears Infected

There are a few key signs that will point toward infection when dealing with a dog bite. These signs include:

  • Increased, severe pain surrounding the bite area
  • Fluid or pus seeping from the wound
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Redness and swelling in and around the affected area
  • A high fever accompanied by shivers

While it is not likely, dog bites can cause major complications if any infection is not quickly treated. It is wise to seek medical help at the first sign of infection. Infected dog bites can lead to an infection of the inner lining of the heart, an infection of the outer layers of the brain, or an infection in the blood, known more commonly as blood poisoning or sepsis.

Severe Cases

In some cases, if the bite was especially brutal, it is crucial to call 911 immediately. Some serious dog bites can result in the need for surgery. It is also important to note what kind of dog bit the affected individual. If the dog was wild or stray, you must take action, regardless of how bad the wound seems. Stray dogs can have an array of diseases, including rabies. A person should call 911 immediately if:

  • Blood is spurting from the wound
  • The wound will not stop bleeding excessively after 10 minutes of applying pressure
  • The person is severely wounded
  • The dog was stray or its medical history is unknown to the affected individual