Chester County Department of Emergency Services Offers Cold
Weather Health and Safety Tips
West Chester, PA – With the arrival of frigid winter weather, Chester County Department of Emergency Services (CCDES) reminds residents to take necessary precautions to prevent serious health and safety concerns. Preparing for exposure to colder temperatures can mean the difference between staying healthy and the possibility of serious injury or even death.
“Severe cold and winter weather is the number one cause of many health related injuries like frostbite, hypothermia, and falling or slipping on slippery or icy sidewalks and paths,” said Robert J. Kagel, Director, Chester County Department of Emergency Services. “Cold weather can also put an extra strain on the heart. People should make sure to dress warm, keep outdoor trips brief and take breaks when shoveling or cleaning off cars.”
When exposed to cold temperatures, the human body loses heat faster than it generates it. Prolonged exposure to cold eventually uses up the body’s stored energy and can result in a serious condition called hypothermia. Characterized by abnormally low body temperature, hypothermia is most likely to occur at very cold temperatures, but can occur even at temperatures above 40° F if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat or submersion in cold water.
Frostbite is another injury to the body caused by freezing, and results in a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and in severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.
If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, consult with your doctor for advice about performing other hard work in the cold, like shoveling snow. Otherwise, if you have to do active outdoor chores: dress warmly and work slowly. The body already is working hard just to stay warm and it is possible to get overheated as well.
ConnectPoints has initiated a code blue alert resource. (Informational sheet attached). These resources include a place to stay, hot meals and other mass care information. ConnectPoints is an assessment program that provides emergency shelter and housing resources to those facing homelessness and housing insecurity. They can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-935-3181.
CCDES officials recommend the following tips to help keep you and your family safe and healthy during extremely cold weather:
- Try to stay indoors when weather is extremely cold, especially if winds are high
- If you must go outdoors, make trips outside as brief as possible
- When going outside during very cold weather, adults and children should wear:
- a hat
- a scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
- sleeves that are snug at the wrist
- insulated and waterproof mittens or gloves
- several layers of loose-fitting, thermal wear or material that “wicks” moisture off the skin
- a water-resistant or tightly woven coat
- two layers of socks with boots or shoes that are waterproof and have a flexible sole