Cold winter weather will soon be here and El Dorado County health officials are asking residents to take steps now to prepare. “By planning ahead, before the cold weather arrives, individuals can ensure that their home, loved ones and pets are protected,” said Kristine Oase Guth with the El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency.
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According to Oase Guth, exposure to extreme cold can cause injury or serious health problems. Those especially at risk during extreme cold weather include seniors, infants, and other vulnerable people, and pets.
Prepare your home for winter:
• Insulate exterior water pipes to avoid freezing; learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
• Have fireplace and woodstove chimneys or flues inspected each year.
• Install a smoke detector and battery operated carbon monoxide detector, and test these monthly.
• Remember to never use barbecues or cooking stoves as a source of heat indoors, as these can produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is toxic if encountered in high concentrations.
• Keep an emergency kit in an easy-access location. The emergency kit should include extra blankets and warm clothing, flashlights, a battery-powered radio, extra batteries, food and water, a non-electric can opener, first aid kit, and pet supplies and medications, if needed.
Prepare your car for winter:
• Replace windshield-wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture and replace windshield wipers.
• Replace worn tires and check air pressure. Carry tire chains in each vehicle.
• Be cautious about travel; check road conditions before traveling and let others know of your route and estimated time of arrival. Keep extra blankets, food and water in your vehicle.
Prepare yourself, your family and your pets for winter:
• Dress appropriately for the weather. Wear several layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
• Wear mittens and a hat — most of the body’s heat escapes through the head. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
• Avoid heavy exertion in the cold; cold weather can put added strain on the heart. If you must work outdoors, dress warmly and work slowly.
• Regularly check on the well-being of loved ones, friends and neighbors.
• Make sure outdoor pets and large animals have adequate shelter, plenty of food and unfrozen water. If possible, move family pets indoors.
Taking time to prepare in advance will greatly reduce the risk of weather-related health problems. For additional information and tips on winter weather preparation, visit edcgov.us/publichealth or bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter.