Vermonters Advised to Take Precautions in Event of Extreme Cold

For Immediate Release: December 22, 2008
Media Contact:

Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

Vermont Emergency Management
(800) 347-0488

BURLINGTON – During periods of extreme cold, personal health and safety should be important considerations for Vermonters whether in the home or outdoors.

The National Weather Service is forecasting wind chills this evening that could drive temperatures below zero throughout Vermont.

“We’re particularly concerned about people exposed to cold who are already vulnerable, such as the very young and the very old, and those with other health conditions that can be further aggravated by cold,” said Health Commissioner Wendy Davis, MD. “Severe cold can be life-threatening.”

Infants and older adults are particularly susceptible to hypothermia, or below normal body temperature. Infants do not make enough body heat by shivering, and the slower metabolism of an older adult will not create enough body heat if exposed to cold temperatures.

Provide warm clothing for infants and try to maintain a warm indoor temperature. Vermonters over the age of 65 are advised to place an easy-to-read thermometer in an indoor location where they can see it. Vermonters are encouraged to check on elderly friends and neighbors frequently to ensure that their homes are adequately heated.

If the temperature cannot be maintained, make temporary arrangements to stay elsewhere.

Even healthy adults can become hypothermic if not dressed properly for the weather conditions. Wearing warm clothes, keeping babies and older adults in warm rooms, eating well-balanced meals, avoiding alcohol and drinking warm drinks will help maintain a healthy body temperature.

Vermonters who have limited access to heating resources and are struggling with adequate food supplies are also more susceptible to being quickly and severely impacted by cold weather. Anyone in need of resources such as crisis fuel information or shelter information and other emergency services available to Vermonters please call 211.

People with pets should bring them indoors. If you cannot bring them inside, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure that they have access to unfrozen water.

Extreme cold weather may also cause power failures, which quickly become dangerous to a person’s health and safety if heat is unavailable. All Vermonters are encouraged to have an alternate way to heat your home if there is a power failure.

The Health Department and Vermont Emergency Management strongly encourage people to be prepared for emergencies, including a winter survival kit for the home and car that should include food and medications, extra water, batteries, a flashlight and blankets.

The extremely cold weather won’t last forever, and the lasting impact of cold-related health problems can be avoided by planning ahead.

For more cold weather health and safety tips visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site at: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/guide.asp.

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