Northern Health Advisory

For Immediate Release

January 6, 2004

Extreme cold weather conditions aren’t just a discomfort. They can also pose serious health risks for those who are vulnerable or who don’t take proper precautions.

Northern Health is advising residents in Northern BC to ensure they are adequately protected against the elements this winter season, especially during extreme cold snaps.

“The elderly can be especially at risk due to increased opportunities for falls and over-exertion from activities such as snow shoveling,” said Dr. David Bowering, Medical Health Officer.

Common sense will help guard against the dangers of harsh winter conditions.

Some tips, for both at home and when you’re outdoors, include the following.

Protection inside:

* Watch for fire hazards due to heating appliance overloads and excessive electrical use;

* Be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning risks due to poorly-vented heating appliances or staying inside idling cars;

* Avoid the use of unvented propane-type radiant space heaters indoors.

Out in the cold:

* Dress adequately for the weather. Wear layers of clothing to provide

enough heat protection and don’t underestimate frostbite conditions;

* Wear a properly insulated hat to help keep yourself warm – most heat lost from the body occurs from the head;

* Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration: moisture loss occurs just as easily in cold weather as in hot;

* Take along emergency gear such as blankets when traveling out of town by vehicle.

Be a good neighbor:

* Keep an eye out for elderly neighbours needing a hand with icy sidewalks or snowy driveways;

* Check in on isolated seniors who may need extra assistance during chilly weather.

If the public is interested in information about how to deal with cold weather injuries such as frostbite or any other health-related issues, the BC NurseLine can be contacted toll-free at 1-866-215-4700. Staffed by registered nurses offering health information and advice, the line is open 24 hours a day, seven days/week.