PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
January 23, 2015

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Tips for Preparing for Weekend Snow and Upcoming Colder Temperatures

With the first significant snowfall predicted for this weekend, New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd reminds residents to prepare for winter weather that could include power outages, hazardous conditions.

"Everyone should take every precaution to stay safe and healthy while shoveling snow or performing any strenuous activities in the cold weather," said Commissioner O'Dowd. "People with heart disease or high blood pressure need to take special care and may want to consult with their doctor before shoveling snow because they may be at increased risk for a heart attack or other physical problems."

Commissioner O'Dowd reminds everyone to check on family and neighbors who may be at risk for cold-related injuries, especially the elderly and individuals with disabilities or medical issues.

The New Jersey Department of Health suggests the following tips for snow removal:

  • Ease into shoveling by warming up as if you are exercising. Don't over-exert yourself, take your time and don't lift more snow that you can handle. Shoveling snow can raise your heart rate and blood pressure dramatically.
  • Do not shovel while eating or smoking.
  • Push snow-rather than lift it-if possible.
  • Use your legs and not your back to lift snow.
  • Don't pick too much snow up at once, if the snow is wet and heavy, use a small shovel, or only fill one-fourth or one-half of a large shovel.
  • Don't work to the point of exhaustion. If you run out of breath, take a break. If you feel tightness in your chest stop shoveling immediately and call for medical assistance if symptoms persist.

As with any storm, residents should be prepared for power outages. If you are using a portable generator, it's important to observe safety procedures. Do not operate a generator close to home or inside a garage, basement or any enclosed space.

"Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a serious disease that sent 11 individuals to the hospital in November and December," said Commissioner O'Dowd. "There are three steps every family should take to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning: 1) have your oil or gas furnace inspected every year; 2) use battery-operated CO detectors near every sleeping area in your home, and check them regularly to make sure they are working; and 3) never use a generator inside your home or garage."

Carbon monoxide often is called the "silent killer" because you can't see, smell, taste, or hear it. Exposure to low levels of CO can cause headaches, sleepiness, fatigue, confusion and irritability. At higher levels, it can cause nausea, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, impaired vision and coordination and death.

If you think you or someone in your family has CO poisoning:

  • Call 9-1-1 immediately if a person is not breathing, is unconscious or unresponsive, or is having seizures or convulsions.
  • Leave the home/building/enclosed space immediately.
  • From a safe area, call your local fire department.
  • Call the NJ Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 for immediate treatment advice.

The New Jersey Department of Health has additional information on how to prevent CO poisoning on their Environmental Public Health Tracking website, http://www.nj.gov/health/epht/cmp.shtml">http://www.nj.gov/health/epht/cmp.shtml; links are provided to CO fact sheets, educational materials in seven languages, and CO statistics.

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Last Reviewed: 1/23/2015