News Releases > Health department issues cold weather safety tips
ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (Dec. 21, 2008) – As Allen County endures a bout of extremely cold weather, residents are urged to remain indoors and to take other precautions against hypothermia and other winter weather-related conditions.
Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, whether indoors or outdoors, can lead to serious health problems such as frostbite or hypothermia. Young children and the elderly are particularly at risk, but anyone who is without shelter or who may live in a home that is poorly insulated or without heat can be affected.
Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas, most often the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes.
Hypothermia, the results of an abnormally low body temperature, is particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it. A person may shiver uncontrollably and appear exhausted, confused, disoriented with slurred speech and shallow breathing.
If you detect symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite, go some place warm and seek medical care immediately.
To keep yourself and your family safe during cold weather, the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health recommends the following:
§ When the weather is extremely cold, and especially if there are high winds, try to stay indoors. Make any trips outside as brief as possible.
§ Check the temperature in your home often during severely cold weather.
§ Check on elderly relatives and friends frequently to ensure that their homes are adequately heated. Any signs of confusion or disorientation should prompt a visit to the emergency department immediately.
§ Eating well-balanced meals will help you stay warmer.
§ Use space heaters with care. Keep the heater at least three feet away from bedding, drapes, furniture or other flammable materials. Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep or leave the room.
§ If your power is off, do not try to keep warm by sitting in your running car in the garage — the carbon monoxide can build to dangerous levels. Generator use is also a major cause of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Generators should only be used in well-ventilated areas and manufacturer recommendations and specifications must be strictly followed. If there are any questions regarding the operation or installation of the portable generator, a qualified electrician should be immediately contacted to assist in installation and start-up activities. The generator should always be positioned outside the structure.
§ If you go outside, dress warmly and stay dry. Adults and children should wear a hat, scarf, mittens, water-resistant boots and layered clothing.
§ If you have to work outside, work slowly and avoid overexertion.
§ Avoid traveling on ice-covered roads, overpasses, and bridges if at all possible. If you must travel, make sure you have warm clothing, a phone and a flashlight with you in case of emergencies. If you are stranded, it is safest to stay in your car.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers further information and severe winter weather tips at www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/guide.asp