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With below-freezing temperatures forecasted through Tuesday, the Westchester County Department of Health reminds residents to take precautions against hypothermia and frostbite and to take care when heating their homes using alternate heating sources.
Check in on neighbors. Seniors and infants less than one year of age should never sleep in a cold room and should be dressed in warm clothing to prevent the loss of body heat. If a safe temperature cannot be maintained inside your home, make temporary arrangements to stay elsewhere.
The Hugh Doyle Senior Center is open weekdays 8:30AM to 4:30 PM and the New Rochelle Public Library is also open for those seeking a place to warm up. The drop-in shelters (see link below) run by the Department of Social Services are open around the clock this week. For emergency shelter, call 995-3333 weekdays. After 4 p.m. and on weekends, call 995-2099.
“Low temperatures can be life-threatening, especially for seniors, infants and people who are at increased risk for hypothermia,” said Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD. “To avoid frostbite and hypothermia, wear a coat, hat, gloves and lots of layers and limit your time outside.”Warning signs of hypothermia in adults include shivering, confusion, memory loss, drowsiness, exhaustion and slurred speech. Infants with hypothermia may appear sluggish, with very low energy and bright red, cold skin.
Frostbite is especially dangerous because it often occurs with little warning. At the first sign of redness or pain, get out of the cold or protect the exposed area. Fingertips, toes, the ears or nose can become numb so quickly that he or she is unaware of being frostbitten, and may remain outside, increasing the chance of permanent damage. People with poor blood circulation, including seniors and those with diabetes are especially vulnerable to frostbite.
Tips to prevent frostbite and hypothermia:•Dress in several layers of windproof clothes to trap body heat.•Wear gloves, scarves and a hat that covers the ears.•Go indoors when you begin to feel cold.If you think someone is suffering from hypothermia or frostbite, call a medical provider immediately.
Never use a generator inside your house or in partly enclosed areas, such as garages, basements, porches, crawlspaces, sheds, carports or breezeways, even if your windows are open. Generators should only be operated outside, away from open windows. Carbon monoxide in the generator's fumes can build up and cause fatal carbon monoxide poisoning. Barbeque grills and camp stoves produce carbon monoxide and should only be used outdoors.
The Health Department also reminds residents to take the following precautions when using alternate heating sources at home:•Be sure that fireplaces, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters are properly vented to the outside and do not leak flue gas indoors.•Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using space heaters and wood burning stoves.•Ensure adequate ventilation if you must use a kerosene heater.•Use only the type of fuel your heater is designed to use - don’t substitute.•Do not place a space heater within three feet of anything that may catch on fire, such as drapes, furniture, or bedding, and never cover your space heater.•Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.•Never leave children or pets unattended near a space heater, fireplace or wood burning stove.
For more information on cold weather safety, contact the Westchester County Department of Health at (914) 813-5000; or visit their website at www.westchestergov.com/health. Follow them on Twitter @wchealthdept and like them on Facebook at Facebook.com/wchealthdept.