Ed Day, Rockland County Executive
February 8, 2017
Contact: Jane Lerner, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, DO, MPH, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512
HEALTH DEPARTMENT OFFERS SNOW AND COLD WEATHER SAFETY TIPS
NEW CITY, NY - - With heavy snow and cold weather in the forecast, Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert advise residents to take common sense steps to protect your health and safety:
- If possible, avoid driving during a winter weather event, as even small amounts of snow and ice can make traveling on roads extremely dangerous. Stock your car with a seasonal emergency kit including: blankets to keep warm, non-perishable foods and fresh water, a first aid kit, cat litter or sand in case you need traction, jumper cables, flares and a tire pump, maps and a compass, and a stash of plastic bags, and a battery-powered radio, flashlight and an extra supply of batteries.
- Before you get in the driver's seat and hit the road, check to be sure that your vehicle's tailpipe is clear of snow. If the tailpipe is blocked, carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless, and deadly gas produced by your engine can build up quickly inside your vehicle, poisoning anyone inside.
- Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack - a major cause of death in the winter. Use caution, take breaks, push the snow instead of lifting it when possible, and lift lighter loads. If you have heart problems, high blood pressure, or other medical conditions, follow your doctor's orders about shoveling snow or performing any strenuous exercise outside. Even healthy adults should remember that their bodies already are working overtime just to stay warm, and should dress appropriately and work slowly when doing heavy outdoor chores.
- If you must go outside, make it as brief as possible. Dress warmly in windproof clothing and go indoors when you begin to feel cold. Wear several layers of loose-fitting clothing to trap body heat. Fasten buttons or zippers and tighten drawstrings securely. Don't forget gloves, mittens, and a hat that covers the ears.
- Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat.
- If you will be spending time outside, do not ignore shivering - it is an important first sign that your body is losing heat and a signal to quickly return indoors.
- Keep in mind that alcoholic beverages cause the body to lose heat more rapidly.
- Older adults are especially susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite. People who have older relatives or neighbors should keep an eye on them during the cold, winter months.
- 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.
- If you need to use an alternate heating source such as a fireplace or wood stove, be sure to have adequate ventilation to the outside. Without enough fresh air, carbon monoxide fumes can build up in your home and cause sickness or even death. Keep children away from all heaters to avoid accidental burns. Never use a stove or fireplace unless it is properly installed and vented.
- Never use a natural gas or propane stove/oven to heat your home.
- Residents with heat-related problems may contact the Health Department at (845) 364-2585.
"The elderly, infants and young children, people with disabilities, and persons taking medication for chronic health conditions are especially at risk from the cold. If you have at-risk friends, neighbors or relatives, check in on them periodically," said Dr. Ruppert.
Click here for a list of warming centers in your area. A warming center is a heated facility in which residents can find safe refuge from extreme weather.
Visit www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/weather/cold/ and www.ready.gov/winter-weather for more information.