With heavy snow forecast for the weekend, New Jersey Acting Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett reminds New Jersey residents to take precautions to protect their health during the winter storm.
"Cold weather, snow and ice increase the risk for illness and injury" said Acting Commissioner Bennett. "New Jerseyans need to be aware of these hazards to take preventive measures to protect themselves and their families."
Advice for avoiding cold-related illness and injury:
- Dress in layers while outdoors and remember to wear a hat to help retain body heat. If you get wet, change into dry clothes as soon as possible.
- Drink adequate fluids during periods of cold stress. However, avoid drinking alcohol, since it can accelerate the loss of body heat.
- Many 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.
When shoveling snow:
- Ease into shoveling and warm up as if you are exercising. Don't over-exert yourself, take your time. Shoveling snow can raise your heart rate and blood pressure dramatically
- Push snow instead of lifting 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
The upcoming storm is expected to bring high winds and heavy snow to New Jersey this weekend, everyone should be prepared in the event of a power outage.
"Power outages may be likely in many areas of New Jersey during this weekend's storm," said Acting Commissioner Bennett. "By being prepared, residents can take specific measures to stay safe and healthy throughout the storm."
Residents can be prepared for weather-related emergencies, including power outages, by taking the following steps:
- Stock food that needs no cooking or refrigeration and water stored in clean containers
- Ensure that your cell phone is fully charged
- Keep an up-to-date emergency kit, including:
- o Battery-operated devices, such as a flashlight, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio, and lamps;
- o extra batteries;
- o first-aid kit and extra medicine;
- o baby items; and
- o cat litter or sand for icy walkways
If the power is out for less than 4 hours, then the food in your refrigerator and freezer will be safe to consume. While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep food cold for longer.
If the power is out for longer than 4 hours, follow the guidelines:
- For the Freezer section: A freezer that is half full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours. Do not open the freezer door if you can avoid it.
- For the Refrigerated section: Pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers are fine for this purpose.
- Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of your food right before you cook or eat it. Throw away any food that has a temperature of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
To stay as warm as possible during a power outage, follow these additional tips:
- Close off unused rooms
- Eat well-balanced meals for energy
- Use only safe sources of alternate heatsuch as a fireplace, a small well-vented wood or coal stove, or portable space heaters. Always follow manufacturers' instructions and never substitute one type of fuel for another
In addition, remember to check on family and neighbors who are especially at risk from cold weather hazards: young children, older adults, and the chronically ill. If you have pets, bring them inside. If you cannot bring them inside, provide adequate, warm shelter and unfrozen water to drink.
Stay informed during the winter weather by visiting the New Jersey Department of Health website at www.nj.gov/health.
Follow the New Jersey Department of Health on Twitter at twitter.com/NJDeptofHealth and on Facebook at facebook.com/NJDeptofHealth.