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Prepare yourself for the cold weather

HAMBURG — Winter weather in Erie County has returned. The Erie County Department of Health has reminded all residents to prepare for adverse weather conditions.

“Dealing with extreme cold and snow removal can put a tremendous strain on your body,” said 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.

“Prolonged exposure to extreme cold can also cause hypothermia or frostbite,” Burstein continued. “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 footwear such as boots with good tread.

The ECDOH has released some tips, to help residents prepare for winter storms:

– Keep supplies such as a three-day supply of nonperishable food, water, extra blankets, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, one week supply of medications and flashlights with extra batteries on hand, at home. Consider having a similar emergency preparedness kit in the workplace.

– Keep an emergency kit in the car. Include nonperishable food, such as granola bars, dried fruit, beef jerky and water.

– Be aware of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. Every year, 500 people in the United States die from accidental CO poisoning. Check or change the batteries in CO detectors, every six months. Leave the home immediately, if the CO detector sounds, and call 911.

– Do not use portable generators inside; keep them at least 20 feet away from any dwelling.

– Do not use an oven or range for heat.

– Do not use charcoal or gasoline-powered equipment inside.

– Do not idle a car in the garage.

– Do not sleep in rooms where unventilated gasoline or kerosene heaters are present.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. Individuals who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning, before ever having symptoms.

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