Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
January 7, 2002
T. DiFerdinando, Jr., MD, MPH
Further Information Contact:
Laura Otterbourg and Marilyn Riley
- As New Jersey heads into the heart of the winter season, the New
Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services encourages residents
to stay healthy and avoid injuries both at home and outdoors.
weather poses a health hazard all season, not just during extreme
cold snaps or heavy snowstorms.
stay safe indoors, residents should make sure heating systems are
working properly. It is a good idea to have heating systems inspected
each year, and to install carbon monoxide and smoke alarms near
bedrooms and on each floor of the home. Have your fireplace chimney
and flue inspected each year and cleaned if needed.
use space heaters carefully, keeping them at least three feet away
from anything that can burn. Keep children and pets away from space
most serious cold-related illness is hypothermia, which can even
occur indoors in susceptible persons. Keep indoor temperatures at
68 degrees or above. This is especially important in homes with
infants and the elderly.
symptoms include violent shivering at first, followed by a decrease
in shivering, distorted speech, confusion and eventually unconsciousness.
In addition to advanced age, risk factors include heart disease,
chronic lung disease, alcohol consumption and use of sedative drugs.
advice for avoiding cold-related illness and injury:
in layers while outdoors and remember to wear a hat to help retain
body heat. If you get wet, either from heavy sweating while working
or from rain or snow, change into dry clothes as soon as possible.
well and drink adequate fluids during periods of cold stress.
However, avoid drinking alcohol, since it can accelerate the loss
of body heat. Alcohol also impairs balance and judgment, which
can lead to injury.
cold-weather injuries result 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.
shoveling snow if you are out of shape. If you have a history
of heart trouble, do not shovel unless your doctor approves.
the owners manual and follow all safety guidelines when using
a snow blower. Snow blower use leads to more than 5,000 emergency
department visits each year, according to the federal Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention.
you will be outdoors in the sun for an extended period, remember
to use sunscreen and sunglasses, particularly if you are at higher
your car with emergency gear, such as cell phone, jumper cables,
flashlight, sand or kitty litter for extra traction, ice scraper
and small shovel, and flares and other warning devices. For long
car trips, carry food, water, extra blankets and required medications.
more information on health-related matters, visit the department's
web site at www.state.nj.us/health.