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Governor's Winter Safety Week Resolution
2012-2013 Ohio Winter Summary
Preparedness for Schools
Ice & Snow, Take It Slow
Winter Safety Tips For The Home
Winter Safety Tips For For The Vehicle
Winter Safety Tips For Fire Safety
Winter Health & Safety Tips
Snow Emergency Classifications
Wind Chill Index
Flood Information and Safety Tips
Flood Insurance Information
Carbon Monoxide Information & Safety
Portable Generator Info
Severe Winter Storm Resource List
Winter’s various dangers to people can occur suddenly, like a heart attack while shoveling snow, or slow and stealthily like carbon monoxide poisoning. Hypothermia and frostbite are always a concern, especially for the elderly and for people with chronic health conditions. The Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Aging offer these safety tips to help keep you and your family safe this winter season.
Keep walkways around the home clear of snow and ice. Snow shoveling can cause serious injuries or death to people who are elderly, have chronic health problems or are not used to strenuous activity. If you are in one of these categories, you may want to use a snow blower or hire a snow removal service.
If you choose to do this heavy work yourself, remember that your body may tire quicker in the cold. Do not overextend yourself. Take short breaks in between shoveling. Exhaustion can make the body more susceptible to cold injuries.
Winter in Ohio can be unpredictable. Snow, sleet and icy roads and walkways can make getting around not only inconvenient, but dangerous. Use these simple precautions to decrease your risk of falling:
When exposed to cold temperatures, the body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.
Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40o F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat or submersion in cold water. Hypothermia can also occur inside a building. The thermostat should be set no lower than 65-70 degrees if the occupants are 75 years or older.
Some illnesses may make it harder for your body to stay warm. They include:
Other health conditions might hinder the ability for people to either move to a warmer place, or put on additional clothing, or wrap up in a blanket. For example:
Alcoholic drinks can also make a person lose body heat faster. People at risk of hypothermia should use alcohol moderately, if at all. They should not drink alcohol before bedtime when the temperatures become colder.
First, take his or her temperature. If the temperature does not rise above 96 degrees, call for help. This person must be seen by a physician.
While waiting for help to arrive, keep the person warm and dry. Wrap the person in extra blankets, coats, towels. Use whatever you may have available. Your own body can serve as warmth. Lie close, but be gentle. Rubbing the skin of an older adult can make problems worse because his/her skin is thinner and could easily be torn or injured by vigorous rubbing. Set the thermostat for at least 68 to 70 degrees.
Remember to check the forecast for very cold or very windy weather. On these days, it might be best to remain indoors.
Hypothermia-associated deaths occurring in Ohio
|Year||Primary Underlying Cause||Other Deaths with mention of hypothermia||Total deaths associated with hypothermia|
Source: Ohio Department of Health's Center for Public Health Statistics and Informatics, Nov 2013
Note: Each death is assigned a primary underlying cause of death for purposes of public health reporting. Those numbers are provided in the second column. The “other” deaths are cases where hypothermia was mentioned as an additional cause of death, but another reason was the primary underlying cause. For example, some deaths were given the primary underlying cause of death as “drug overdose” or “fall,” but hypothermia was mentioned as an additional cause.
*Data for 2012 and 2013 are preliminary and subject to change.
Frostbite is the most common cold-related injury. Frostbite is an injury to the body caused by freezing of skin tissue. Frostbite causes loss of feeling and color in the affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body and severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation, those who drink alcoholic beverages, the elderly and people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.
At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin – frostbite may be beginning. The following signs may indicate frostbite: a white or grayish-yellow skin area; skin that feels usually firm or waxy; numbness. A victim is often unaware of frostbite until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb.
If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care. Because both frostbite and hypothermia result from exposure, first determine whether the victim also shows signs of hypothermia, as described above. Hypothermia is a more serious medical condition and requires emergency medical assistance.
If there is frostbite but no sign of hypothermia, and immediate medical care is not available, proceed as follows:
These steps are not substitutes for proper medical care. Hypothermia is a medical emergency and frostbite should be evaluated by a healthcare provider. It is a good idea to take a first aid and emergency resuscitation (CPR) course to prepare for cold-weather health problems.
Taking preventative action is your best defense against having to deal with extreme cold-weather conditions. By preparing your home and car in advance for winter emergencies, and by observing safety precautions during times of extremely cold weather, you can reduce the risk of weather-related health problems.
As the weather turns cold, Ohioans look for ways to save on heating costs during these tough economic times. The use of alternative heating sources such as portable heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves increases. Fire deaths and carbon monoxide poisoning are increased risks from using alternate heating sources. Home heating equipment is among the top causes of fires and CO poisoning. The Ohio Departments of Health and Aging suggest the following safety tips to prevent injury from carbon monoxide poisoning and fire.
For additional information on winter health and safety, visit the following:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/
Ohio Department of Health http://www.odh.ohio.gov/features/odhfeatures/winterweather.aspx
Ohio Department of Aging http://www.aging.ohio.gov/information/emergencypreparedness/