TODAY   |  January 06, 2014

Tips to manage the severe cold

NBC News chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman provides some important tips to help you manage severely cold temperatures in your home, avoid hypothermia, and even keep your pets safe.

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>>> there are important things to protect your family. let's turn to dr. nancy snyderman . nancy, good morning. we're talking about it being this cold. exposed flesh in a matter of minutes can result in frostbite.

>> within a few minutes, you'll start to see skin changes. within seven or ten minutes, you can have real frostbite. you think it's going to happen to somebody else. first, dress appropriately. the elderly and children are most at risk because they don't thermoregulate as well. dress in layers.

>> loose layers.

>> not tight things that will constrict blood vessels . expose all the areas in your body, fingers, i'm a big believer in mittens, get the warmers, and men, put something on your head. little kids, too, cover your head.

>> and hypothermia, real concern in the midwest and northeast.

>> this isn't just getting cold. this is when your core body temperature drops. if your normal temperature is 98.6, we're talking about temperatures dropping to 95, 96 degrees. and that's when you start to see organs slow down. people can have slurred speech, be confused, almost intoxicated or having a stroke. if that's a concern, you get someone to a warm area, but then to a hospital because sometimes it takes warm, intravenous fluids to warm up the whole body.

>> people about to get in their car and commute to work. safety tips for that.

>> think like a girl scout. blankets, flashlights. water, that sounds counter intuitive. no alcohol because that dilates blood vessels . a bag of kitty litter you can throw on the back of a tire if you get stuck. plan like you're going camping except you aren't. if you plan ahead, you'll be fine. if you don't have to go out, don't go out.