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DOH Offers Cold-Weather Tips

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December 6, 2017

The Anne Arundel County Department of Health encourages residents to exercise caution during extremely cold temperatures. Whether inside or out, cold weather can be dangerous to those who are unprepared to deal with it.

Advanced hypothermia (decreased core body temperature) is usually accompanied by stiffness, excessive shivering, confusion, slurred speech, numbness or a weak pulse. Watch for the stumbles, mumbles, fumbles and grumbles, which show changes in motor coordination and levels of consciousness. Symptoms of frostbite (skin damage due to cold temperatures) include gradual numbness, pale or purple skin, hard skin, or tingling or burning in the affected area. Contact your local emergency services if you or someone you know may be suffering from hypothermia or frostbite.

Children, the elderly and people with poor circulatory systems are at particular risk for hypothermia or frostbite. The Department of Health offers the following tips to help residents cope with winter conditions when outside.

·         Dress for the cold weather by wearing coats, hats (as much as 50 percent of body heat is lost through the head), scarves or knit masks to cover the face and mouth, and gloves or mittens. Wear waterproof boots, shoes and gloves.

·         Dress in layers of loose-fitting clothes, including extra socks. Wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers hold in more body heat than cotton. Avoid cotton clothing for winter activities.

·         Prepare for the unexpected. Most problems with hypothermia occur because of an unexpected change in the weather or temperature.

·         Avoid getting wet when the temperature dips.

·         Drink plenty of water. Avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol.

Residents should also be aware of the risks cold weather poses when inside the house. The Department offers the following tips to help residents remain safe in their homes during cold conditions.

·         Store several days’ worth of nonperishable food and bottled water.

·         Keep several days’ worth of medications.

·         Keep fireplaces and wood-burning stoves clean.

·         Never leave space heaters on and unattended.

·         Ensure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are operating properly.

·         Check on elderly or disabled neighbors and relatives.

·         Bring pets inside. If it is too cold for you, it is too cold for them.

For shelter information, contact the Office of Emergency Management at 410-222-0600.

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