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Health safety tips for cold weather

Posted at 6:00 PM, Dec 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-29 16:47:17-05

With severe cold sweeping through Omaha this week, the Douglas County Health Department said it is imperative you plan for the elements because cold weather can be extremely dangerous. 

The DCHD offered some tips for safety in this frigid weather: 

  • Limit your time outdoors. 
  • Dress in layers. 
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing rather than tight-fitting clothing for better blood circulation.
  • Make special effort to protect ears, face, hands and feet.
  • Be wary that infants and elderly are especially sensitive to extreme cold.
  • Do not use heating devices with combustible fuel indoors.
  • Consider delaying trips if a Weather Service warning has been issued. If you do decide to go, make sure your cell phone is charged and your car has a safety kit, blankets, booster cables, a flashlight, and a map. 
  • Don't run your engine for more than 10 minutes each hour if you're stuck in snow. 

RELATED: Cold weather preparations for your home

Meanwhile, the American Heart Association has been encouraging residents to keep an eye on their health while engaging in activity in cold weather, such as:

  • Give yourself a break. Take frequent breaks indoors to avoid overstressing your heart. 
  • Don't eat a big meal before or immediately after.&
  • Do not drink alcohol before or immediately after. Alcohol can increase a person's sensation of warmth and may cause you to underestimate the extra strain your body is under in the cold.
  • Use a small shovel or a snow thrower. The act of lifting heavy snow can raise blood pressure during the lift. It is safer to lift smaller amounts. When possible, simply push the snow.
  • Consult a doctor ahead of time if you have a medical condition, do not exercise on a regular basis or are middle-aged or older, contact your doctor before you start activities like shoveling.

The American Red Cross is advising those utilizing public transportation and other shared means of travel during the winter months are advised to do the following to help stop the spread of flu:

  • Handle only your own belongings.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. 
  • Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes with you, and use them to wash your hands or wipe down surfaces such as armrests.
  • Bring your own pillows and blankets, which can act as a shield against germs on the seat itself.
  • Avoid touching your face and eyes. 
  • If you cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or your sleeve.