Dept. of Health: Pennsylvanians use extreme caution as cold weather approaches

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Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Health is urging everyone to take extra precautions to prevent serious health issues as near-zero temperatures affect the commonwealth over the next several days.

“Many parts of the commonwealth will have temperatures around zero, with the wind making it feel even colder,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy. “Dangerously cold temperatures like these can lead to life-threatening health problems like hypothermia and frostbite. Lower-than-normal temperatures and higher wind speeds, such as those we’re expecting, can cause heat to leave your body more quickly than normal and result in serious health issues.”

The most common cold-related problems are hypothermia and frostbite. Try to stay indoors as much as possible, but if you go outside:
• Make outdoor trips brief and dress warmly in layers;
• Cover your ears, head, mouth, and face;
• Never ignore shivering – it’s your body’s way of saying you’re losing heat and it’s time to return indoors; and
• Know the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite:
o Hypothermia causes shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech or drowsiness in adults and bright red, cold skin and very low energy in babies.
o Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas, and symptoms include a white or grayish-yellow area of skin, numbness or skin that feels unusually firm or waxy.
o Seek medical attention if it is suspected that you or your loved ones have hypothermia or frostbite.

Infants and older Pennsylvanians are at greater risk of serious cold-related health issues and should be checked frequently to ensure they are warm enough during cold weather.
• Provide warm clothing for infants, and ensure that those less than 1 year old never sleep in a cold room, as infants lose body heat more easily than adults and are unable to make enough body heat by shivering.
• Older adults often make less body heat because of a slower metabolism and less physical activity. If you are over 65 years of age, check the temperature in your home often during extremely cold weather.

Source: PA Department of Health