From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale Burstein
Date December 13, 2013
CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov
Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925
Be Ready for Winter Weather Hazards
Preparation & Awareness are Key
ERIE COUNTY, NY—As recent snowstorms have reminded us, winter weather in Erie County has returned. The Erie County Department of Health (“ECDOH”) wishes to remind residents of the importance of proper preparation and precautions to deal with adverse weather conditions.
“Dealing with extreme cold and snow removal can put a tremendous strain on your body” states Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health. “Working in the cold, including snow shoveling or using a snow blower puts an added strain on your heart which can lead to heart attacks. Especially when you have high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, be sure to follow your personal physician’s advice before undertaking such strenuous activities.”
Burstein continued: “Prolonged exposure to extreme cold can also cause hypothermia or frostbite. Pay attention to your body’s signals such as shivering. Shivering is the first sign your body is losing heat; if you cannot stop shivering it is a clear signal to go indoors. Prolonged exposure to the cold may bring about serious and dangerous conditions such as frostbite and hypothermia which can be deadly.”
Another common cause of winter injuries is falling when walking on snow or ice covered surfaces. Use a deicer to melt ice on walkways and wear appropriate warm footwear such as boots with good tread.
Here are some helpful tips to prepare for winter storms:
- Keep adequate supplies on hand at home such as a 3-day supply of non-perishable food, water, extra blankets, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, one week supply of essential medications and flashlights with extra batteries. A similar emergency preparedness kit at your workplace might also come in handy.
- Traveling by Car: If stranded in your car, keeps an emergency kit on hand including a small amount of non-perishable food, especially if you are diabetic (granola bars, dried fruit, beef jerky, water).
- Be aware of the danger of Carbon Monoxide (“CO”) poisoning. Every year, 500 people in the U.S. die from accidental CO poisoning. Check or change the batteries in your CO detector every 6 months. If you do not have a battery-powered or battery-backup CO detector, make buying one a priority. Leave your home immediately if your CO detector sounds and call 911.
- When using portable generators, never use them indoors and make sure they are at least 20 feet away from your dwelling.
- Never use your oven or range to heat your home.
- Never use charcoal or gasoline-powered equipment indoors.
- Never idle a car in the garage.
- Never sleep in rooms where unvented gasoline or kerosene heaters are present.
- Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before every having symptoms.
For More Information
- Erie County Department of Health http://www2.erie.gov/seniorservices/index.php?q=emergency-preparedness#snow
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/Features/WinterWeather/index.html and http://www.cdc.gov/features/copoisoning/index.html
- New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info/publicsafety/winter.cfm
- Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/practice/resources-about-winter-weather-and-carbon-monoxide-address-preparedness-needs-new
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