Health Officials Warn Of Cold-Related Dangers


UPDATED: Tuesday January 22, 2013 1:44 PM

Columbus health officials are warning residents to be safe when trying to keep warm during frigid conditions.

"The forecast calls for extreme temperatures that could cause hypothermia, frostbite and other health problems, especially for infants, the elderly, pets and people with chronic health conditions," said Health Commissioner Teresa Long.

Health experts said frostbite and hypothermia symptoms need immediate medical attention. Warning signs include slurred speech, confusion, uncontrollable shivering, stumbling or a body temperature of less than 95 degrees.

If you must spend time outdoors, it's best to avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages. Besides always wearing hats and gloves outdoors, people should also dress in several layers of loose clothing and stay dry when outdoors.

Pets can also be injured by the cold, so remember to bring them inside, officials warned.

When using items indoors to stay warm, people should make sure to avoid the risk of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Make sure all fireplaces and woodstoves have adequate ventilation. You should never use generators indoors or inside a garage.

Experts recommend having blankets, a first aid kit, flashlights and battery powered radios on hand. Keep several days' supply of non-cooking food items such as bread, peanut butter, dried fruits and bottled water in case pipes freeze or rupture.

Do not forget to check on elderly relatives and neighbors who may be stuck in their homes during cold weather.

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