Before the first winter storm of the year last weekend, New Jersey’s top health official reminded residents to prepare for possible power outages and hazardous conditions.
“Snow, rain, sleet and ice is expected in many areas of the state, it is important that residents take steps to protect themselves and their families,’’ said Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal.
There are things you can do to avoid cold-related illness and injury, says Elnahal. Dress in layers when going outside and in frigid weather and wear a hat to help retain body heat. Change into dry clothes as soon as possible if you get wet, he says.
It is also important to drink fluids during periods of cold stress, adds Elnahal, stressing that drinking alcohol should be avoided because it can hasten the loss of body heat.
You can protect yourself against cold-weather injuries resulting from falls on ice-covered sidewalks and other surfaces around the home. “Use rock salt or other chemical de-icing compound to keep walkways, steps, driveways and porches as ice-free as possible,” suggests Elnahal.
“Avoid overexertion while shoveling, individuals with heart conditions should follow their doctor’s advice before shoveling snow or performing other strenuous outdoor activities in the cold, as they may be at increased risk of a heart attack or other physical problems,” adds the Commissioner.
Shoveling Can Be Hazardous for Your Health
Don’t hurt yourself when shoveling snow. If you run out of breath, take a break, says Elnahal. He suggests easing into shoveling and warm up as if you are exercising. Don’t over-exert yourself and pick up too much snow at once because shoveling snow can raise your heart rate and blood pressure dramatically. When shoveling, push snow instead of lifting, using your legs and not your back to lift snow. If the snow is wet and heavy, use a small shovel, or only fill one-fourth or one-half of a large shovel. If you feel tightness in your chest, stop shoveling immediately and call for medical assistance if symptoms persist
“With ice expected in the forecast, residents should also be prepared for possible power outages, said Dr. Elnahal. “If you have a portable generator, it’s important not to operate it too close to a home or inside a garage, basement of any enclosed space, dangerous – and possibly fatal – levels of carbon monoxide, (CO) can accumulate.”
Elnahal says CO exposure can lead to headaches, sleepiness, fatigue, confusion and irritability at low levels. At higher levels, it can result in nausea, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, impaired vision and coordination, and death.
If you suspect CO poisoning, take immediate action by calling 9-1-1 immediately if a person is not breathing, unconscious or unresponsive, or is having seizures or convulsions. Than exit the home, building or enclosed space immediately. Contact your local fire department. Finally, from a safe area, call the NJ Poison Information and Education System experts at 1-800-222-1222 for immediate treatment advice
Tips on Food Safety and Your Refrigerator
Elnahal adds, power is out for longer than four hours, a freezer that is half full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours. Do not open the freezer door if you can avoid it. In the refrigerated section, pack milk and other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Always use a food thermometer to check the temperature of your food right before you cook or eat it. Throw away any food that has a temperature of more than 40 degrees.
Tired of surviving power outages and hazardous conditions caused by snow and ice, why not call Hearthstone Estates. We’ll shovel your sidewalk and provide you with a full range of living assistance and supportive medical services so you can enjoy life independently and safely.