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Staying Safe During Cold Weather
With freezing temperatures and higher winds moving into the area comes more danger as your body loses heat faster than it can produce it. For folks who haven’t stepped outside yet some high winds in the area those make health problems from that cold weather much more likely.
Infants sleeping in cold bedrooms and the elderly are most at risk of hypothermia, along with anyone who works or lives outdoors. So experts say check on your elderly neighbors often, and if you’re over 65, check the temperature in your home. It should be kept above 68 degrees.
Still, anyone is at risk of hypothermia and frostbite. The key warning sign is shivering. That tells you your body is losing heat, so go indoors at that point. Also watch out for confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. For infants the symptoms include very low energy and bright red, cold skin.
To prevent it, cover your head, neck and face as much as possible, don’t exert yourself too much outdoors, as sweating causes clothing to become damp and increases heat loss, dress in layers, and wear waterproof clothing to stay dry.
There are also dangers indoors. One local hospital says they see a spike in emergency room visits every year around this time due to carbon monoxide poisoning from space heaters and similar devices. Fire and electric shock are also dangers. You want to keep any heaters at least three feet away from drapes, furniture, or anything flammable. Keep it away from water, too. Don’t leave the heater unattended, don’t run it while you sleep and be sure it’s on a level surface. You should never use your oven to heat your home.
Carbon monoxide is a risk with any kind of fuel-burning equipment. Make sure it vents to the outside and that the vents are well-sealed. Flu-like symptoms like headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath could be a sign of carbon monoxide poisoning. Experts recommend in stalling carbon monoxide alarms in central locations of your home and outside sleeping areas.
Electric shock is another risk in and around standing water. Experts say never try and thaw a pipe, and let the faucets drip to avoid freezing.
By Adam Bennett