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Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 16, 2020
Contact: John Lyon, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
                 Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, D.O., M.P.H., CPE, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512

HEALTH DEPARTMENT OFFERS SNOW AND COLD WEATHER SAFETY TIPS

NEW CITY, NY, - With heavy snow and strong winds 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 their health and safety:

Outdoors:

  • 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 are spending time outside, do not ignore shivering - it is a vital first sign that your body is losing heat and a signal to return indoors quickly.
  • 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.
  • 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 freshwater, a well-stocked first aid kit, including medications to reduce fever and pain, and a fever thermometer. The car supply kit should also contain cat litter or sand in case you need traction, jumper cables, flares and a tire pump, maps and a compass, a stash of plastic bags, and a battery-powered radio, a 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 are already working overtime to stay warm and should dress appropriately and work slowly when doing heavy outdoor chores.

Indoors:

  • Stay indoors and dress warmly. If you need to spend time in a public indoor space to stay safe from the cold, follow CDC precautions to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Wear a well-fitting mask (two or more layers) over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin. Maintain a distance of at least six feet between yourself and those who are not a part of your household. Masks should not be worn by children under two years of age, those who have trouble breathing, and those who cannot remove them on their own.
  • 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 older adults, or people with health problems.
  • If you need to use an alternate heating source such as a fireplace or wood-burning 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.
  • Rockland County families with low incomes can apply for grants to help pay for their heating bills under New York State's Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). Households may apply online at www.mybenefits.ny.gov, by phone or by mail. For a paper application or if you have questions, call the HEAP Department at (845) 364-3480 or (845) 364-3212, Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.

"The older adults, 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 while following COVID-19 public health safety precautions. Consider connecting with family and friends by telephone, e-mail, text messages, video chat, and social media. If you must visit in person, wear a mask and maintain a distance of at least six feet from them," said Dr. Ruppert.

Single adult residents who are in need of a heated facility from extreme weather may go directly to the Rockland County Warming Center location between 5:00 pm and 9:00 pm. There will be no walk-ins after 9:00 pm. After 9:00 pm, you can contact your local police department, who will bring you to the warming center. Low-income families in need of a warm shelter, please call the Department of Social Services (DSS) at (845) 364-3032 Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, after hours and weekends call the Sheriff at (845) 638-5400.

To stay at the Warming Center:

  • Must be a single adult 18 years and older
  • Have no other housing options available
  • Able to provide for your own care
  • Must provide information for Intake
  • Pose no risk to themselves or staff members

For more cold weather safety information, visit www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/weather/cold/ and www.ready.gov/winter-weather.

Please see our cancellations page for up to date information on meeting, event, class and exam cancellations and/or postponements.