Prepare Yourself and Your Family for Cold Winter Weather

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thermometerThis recent period of cold weather means local residents should take extra precautions to protect their personal health and safety. Even in Long Beach, temperatures can drop causing health concerns. The City Health Officer, Dr. Helene Calvet, says that, “Cold weather requires individuals to dress properly, safely heat their homes, and protect themselves from the health effects of cold weather.” The City’s Department of Health and Human Services is offering advice on how to stay healthy during periods of cold weather.

Home heating Concerns

Due to unanticipated power outages or inadequately designed heating systems, many homes may be too cold for comfort. It is critical that individuals use freestanding home heating devices in strict accordance with manufacturer’s specifications. Disregarding the instructions poses a risk of household fires, as well as the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause illness and death if it accumulates indoors. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, weakness, vomiting, chest pain, confusion and loss of consciousness. To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:

Do NOT bring heating devices into the home that are intended for outdoor use, such as:

  • Propane or charcoal barbecues or cookers
  • Other cooking equipment, such as camp stoves
  • Natural gas or wood burning outdoor fireplaces
  • Outdoor patio heaters
  • Do NOT heat your house with a gas oven
  • Do NOT use a generator inside your home, basement, garage or near a window; place generators outdoors and as far away from the house as possible
  • Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds, leave your home immediately and call 911.

Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous.

To avoid fires or burns due to heaters:

  • Use electric area heaters with an automatic shut-off switch and a non-glowing heating element. Do not place a space heater within 3 feet of anything that may catch on fire, such as drapes, furniture, or bedding, and never cover your space heater.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them.
  • Never leave children unattended near a space heater.

Move family pets indoors or to an enclosure out of the elements.

Dressing for cold weather

Here are some key things to keep in mind to help stay warm:

  • Wear a hat – a lot of body heat is lost when you don’t have any headwear.
  • Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing.
  • The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.

Remember to get your flu shot

Finally, it is important for seniors or those with chronic health conditions to get a flu shot every year. Flu season usually doesn’t begin until February or later, so getting a flu shot in December or January will offer protection against the flu. You may call the Health Department to schedule an appointment 562.570.4315 to get a flu shot, or you may log on to www.findaflushot.com.

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