In a press release sent out for all of the health districts including Botetourt County, VDH has offered some tips for staying healthy and safe during cold weather.
CHRISTIANSBURG, Va.) – The Virginia Department of Health urges everyone to take steps to stay safe and healthy during this week’s bad weather resulting from the combined effects of Hurricane Sandy to the east and the wintry weather from the west.
Preparation is the best way to protect your family from the dangers of extreme cold this winter. Exposure to low temperatures can lead to hypothermia and frostbite.
What is the best clothing for cold weather?
· Scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
· Sleeves that are snug at the wrist
· Mittens (they are warmer than gloves)
· Water-resistant coat and shoes
· Several layers of loose-fitting clothing
Be sure the outer layer of your clothing is tightly woven, preferably wind resistant, to reduce body-heat loss caused by wind. Wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton. Stay dry—wet clothing chills the body rapidly. Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm. Also, avoid getting gasoline or alcohol on your skin while de-icing and fueling your car or using a snow blower. These materials in contact with the skin greatly increase heat loss from the body.
Do not ignore shivering. It’s an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a signal to return indoors.
What should I do if I get stranded in my car in cold weather?
· Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna as a signal to rescuers.
· Move anything you need from the trunk into the passenger area.
· Wrap your entire body, including your head, in extra clothing, blankets, or newspapers.
· Stay awake. You will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems.
· Run the motor (and heater) for about 10 minutes per hour, opening one window slightly to let in air. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe—this will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
· As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to improve your circulation and stay warmer.
· Do not eat unmelted snow because it will lower your body temperature.
Prepare your car with emergency supplies, including:
· Cell phone; portable charger and extra batteries
· Windshield scraper
· Battery-powered radio (and extra batteries)
· Flashlight (and extra batteries)
· Snack food
· Extra hats, coats, mittens
· Chains or rope
· Tire chains
· Canned compressed air with sealant (emergency tire repair)
· Road salt and sand
· Booster cables
· Emergency flares
· Bright colored flag; help signs
· First aid kit
· Tool kit
· Road maps
· Waterproof matches and a can (to melt snow for water)
· Paper towels
–Robert Parker, VDH PR
Check on elderly neighbors, people with chronic disease and young children in times of cold weather– especially during power outages and severe weather! Most of all stay warm and safe!