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February 11, 2015

Be Prepared for Extreme Cold Weather

With extreme cold weather forecast for Oswego County and Central New York over the next few days, Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang is advising people to take extra precautions to protect themselves from frostbite, hypothermia and other health conditions that are aggravated by cold weather.

"Winter storm conditions and cold waves are the deadliest types of weather. People who spend time outdoors need to take extra precautions to reduce the risk of hypothermia, frostbite and other conditions," said Huang."If you will be spending time outside, dress in layers, keep your head covered, and do not ignore shivering - it is an important first sign that the body is losing heat and a signal to quickly return indoors."

Early signs of hypothermia in adults include shivering, confusion, memory loss, drowsiness, exhaustion and slurred speech. Infants who are suffering from hypothermia may appear to have very low energy and bright red, cold skin.

People working or playing outdoors during the winter can develop frostbite and not even know it. There is no pain associated with the early stages of frostbite, so learn to watch for these danger signs:

1. First, the skin may feel numb and become flushed. Then, it turns white or grayish-yellow. Frostbitten skin feels cold to the touch.

2. If frostbite is suspected, move the victim to a warm area. Cover the affected area with something warm and dry. Never rub it!

3. Then, get to a doctor or hospital as quickly as possible.

Since cold weather puts an extra burden on the heart, if you have cardiac problems or high blood pressure, follow your doctor's orders about shoveling or performing any strenuous exercise outside. Heavy exertion, such as shoveling snow, clearing debris, or pushing a car, increases the risk of a heart attack.

To avoid problems, remember these tips:

1. Stay warm, dress warmly and slow down when working outdoors.

2. Take frequent rests to avoid over-exertion.

3. If you feel chest pain - stopand seek help immediately.

"Even otherwise-healthy adults should remember that their bodies already are working overtime just to stay warm, and dress appropriately and work slowly when doing heavy outdoor chores," said Huang.

The World Health Organization recommends keeping indoor temperatures between 64 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit for healthy people. The minimum temperature should be kept above 68 degrees Fahrenheit to protect the very young, the elderly, or people with health problems.

For more tips on staying healthy during cold weather, go to www.emergency.dcd.gov


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