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Monday, Dec. 2, 2019

Stay Warm, Dry and Safe

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Just follow a few wise precautions this winter

What is carbon monoxide poisoning? How can you protect yourself from it?

Breathing in too much carbon monoxide could cause fainting or death. Breathing in carbon monoxide fumes prevents the body from using oxygen properly, which can harm the brain, heart and other organs. People with health problems, such as heart and lung disease, are at higher risk for harm. Infants, children, pregnant women and older adults are also at higher risk.

According to the CDC, more than 20,000 Americans visit the emergency room, and more than 400 die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning each year.

A common source of CO poisoning is unvented space heaters in the home. An unvented space heater uses combustible fuel and indoor air for the heating process. Also, it is not safe to use a gas oven or grill indoors.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often flu-like and include:

• Headache

• Dizziness

• Weakness

• Nausea

• Vomiting

• Chest pain

• Confusion

Remember – you cannot smell, taste or see carbon monoxide. Protect yourself and your family by installing battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms in your home. If it goes off, call 9-1-1 and go outside.

What are some precautions you can take when the temperatures drop?

With temperatures falling, remember to check on elderly neighbors and relatives.

Cold temperature can cause your blood vessels to contract and your blood flow to speed up – that’s what helps keep you warm. When this occurs, your heart is working significantly harder than it does under more temperate conditions. People with coronary heart disease often suffer angina pectoris (chest pain or discomfort) when they’re in cold weather. Be careful not to overexert yourself.

When the weather is extremely cold, try to stay indoors. If you must go outside, dress appropriately:

• Wear several layers of loose-fitting clothing.

• Wear a hat – 40% of body heat escapes through the scalp.

• Remove any clothing that gets wet as soon as possible.

• Make sure to cover the body parts most affected by frostbite with warm, dry clothing – nose, ears, toes, cheeks, chin and fingers.

What is frostbite?

Frostbite is an injury to body tissues caused by exposure to extreme cold.

You may have a greater chance of developing frostbite if you have poor blood circulation or are not adequately dressed for extremely cold temperatures.

What are the signs and symptoms of frostbite?

• Redness or pain in any skin area

• A white or grayish-yellow skin area

• Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy

• Numbness Don’t wait – take action!

If you notice signs of frostbite on yourself or someone else, seek medical care.

What is hypothermia?

Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature.

Normal body temperature is around 98.6 F (37°C). Hypothermia occurs as your body temperature falls below 95°F (35°C)

Who is at risk?

• Older adults with inadequate food, clothing or heating

• Babies sleeping in cold bedrooms

• People who remain outdoors for long periods – the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.

The following are warnings signs of hypothermia:

Adults:

• Shivering

• Exhaustion or feeling very tired

• Confusion

• Fumbling hands

• Memory loss

• Slurred speech

• Drowsiness

Babies:

• Bright red, cold skin

• Very low energy

Don’t wait – take action. Hypothermia is a medical emergency. If you notice any of the above signs, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95° F, get medical attention immediately!

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