Harsh Winter Weather The onset of sudden harsh winter weather can pose a variety of cold-related health problems. The Madison Health Department has the following recommendations to keep warm and safe in the upcoming cold weather:
Dress Appropriately To prevent heat loss, wear layers of clothing that trap air. Wool, down, or synthetic fibers have small pockets of entrapped air and are good insulators. Body perspiration should be vented and outer clothing should be kept dry for the best protection. And don’t forget to cover your head since that’s where body heat escapes most rapidly.
Frostbite For localized injuries such as frostbite, it’s important to remember never to rub the frostbitten area. Rubbing causes more damage. Don’t expose frostbitten areas to direct heat. Rather, gradually re-warm the affected areas in a warm-water bath with water temperatures between 100 and 112°F. Re-warm until the skin feels warm and color has returned. For severe cases, your best bet is to call 911 to summon emergency medical help.
Snow Shoveling Snow shoveling can be very strenuous and cold weather can mask the effects of strenuous activity. If you find yourself beginning to breathe heavily you should take a break and slow your pace. If you are at risk for heart problems consider having someone else remove the snow for you.
Furnace Maintenance If you haven’t had your furnace tuned-up for the winter you should schedule it now. Furnaces that don’t burn efficiently or are improperly vented can release carbon monoxide (CO) into living spaces. This is especially true for kerosene style space heaters. Every year, Connecticut reports several cases of carbon monoxide poisoning that could have been easily prevented. Carbon monoxide detectors save lives and are available at local hardware stores. If you don’t have one, you should get one. If you have one, you should test it to make sure it still works.