With it comes the hazards of lake effect snow and biting cold that are not only uncomfortable and inconvenient, but can be life-threatening.
The Oswego County Health Department is warning residents to be prepared for potential impacts including frostbite and hypothermia; frozen pipes; dead car batteries; and the need for secondary sources of heat that can increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or fires if not used correctly.
“Hypothermia is a life-threatening condition that causes the body’s core temperature to drop,” said Diane Oldenburg, senior public health educator for Oswego County. “The elderly and infants are at increased risk of hypothermia because they cannot easily regulate their body temperature.”
Warning signs of hypothermia in adults include shivering, confusion, memory loss, drowsiness, exhaustion and slurred speech. Infants who are suffering from hypothermia may appear to have very low energy and bright red, cold skin.
Frostbite is another concern and often occurs with little warning. When there is a wind chill of minus 20-degrees Fahrenheit, frostbite can occur in as little as 30 minutes. Numbness can appear so quickly that the individual is unaware of being frostbitten. Older persons and persons with diabetes are at greater risk due to poor circulation.
Residents are encouraged to check on family, friends, and neighbors who may need extra assistance or who are at-risk due to the dangerous cold.
Cold weather preparedness tips include:
- Stay indoors during the worst part of extreme cold.
- Keep a winter survival kit in your car if you must travel, including blankets, flashlights, water, snacks, a cell phone that is fully charged, and jumper cables.
- Keep your car’s gas tank nearly full.
- Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight clothing; the outer layer should be wind and water resistant.
- Limit areas of exposed skin.
- Wear a hat.
- Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
- Try to stay dry.
- Let your faucets drip to prevent freezing and burst pipes.
- Know where to turn off water in the event of pipes bursting.
- Bring pets indoors.
“If you will be spending time outdoors, dress warmly, stay dry, and don’t ignore warning signs of overexposure or strain when shoveling or doing other outdoor chores or activities,” warned Oldenburg.
For more information on staying safe this winter, contact the Oswego County Health Department at 315-349-3547.