NCDHHS offers tips to keep you safe in cold weather - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

NCDHHS offers tips to keep you safe in cold weather

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The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Public Health is reminding people in the state about serious health hazards often associated with extreme weather conditions.

One risk North Carolinians should be aware of is carbon monoxide, and odorless, colorless gas that can easily cause death.

During a power outage, you should never use any burning device powered by gasoline, propane, or charcoal, such as generators or grills inside your home or garage, or near windows or vents.

The initial symptoms of CO poisoning resemble the flu and can include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, and dizziness.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should get fresh air immediately by opening doors and windows for ventilation, and turn off any combustible appliance in the home.

You should also call 911 and have someone drive you to the hospital if you suspect you have CO poisoning.

Hypothermia and frostbite are two other cold-weather threats that NCDHHS is warning residents about.

Officials say you can protect yourself by wearing layers of clothing and a hat to keep in body heat. You should also limit your time outdoors and remove wet clothing immediately.

Some signs of hypothermia in adults include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. In infants, watch for bright red, cold skin and/or low energy.

If you see someone who is exhibiting signs of hypothermia, NCDHHS says you should:

  • Get the victim into a warm room or shelter.
  • Remove any wet clothing from the victim.
  • Warm the center of the body first - chest, neck, head, and groin - using an electric blanket, if available. Or use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.
  • Warm beverages can help increase the body temperature, but do not give alcoholic beverages. Do not try to give beverages to an unconscious person.
  • After body temperature has increased, keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck.
  • Get medical attention as soon as possible.     

Experts say a victim of frostbite is often unaware of their condition until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb. At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, you should get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin, as frostbite may be beginning.

Any of the following signs may indicate frostbite:

  • a white or grayish-yellow skin area
  • skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
  • numbness

Finally, if your home is damaged, NCDHHS recommends stay with friends, family or in a shelter. Again, safety should be the top concern.

For additional winter-weather information:

For more information on CO dangers:

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