Department of Health Urges Pennsylvanians to Stay Healthy and Safe by Preparing for Major Winter Storm

| March 14, 2017

C60jne-XUAAw0ks.jpg-largeHARRISBURG — Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy urged Pennsylvanians Monday to take important precautions to ensure their health and safety, and that of their loved ones, during a major winter storm that is expected to bring significant snowfall to much of the commonwealth beginning this evening.

“Snowstorms like this one raise several concerns about your health, especially afterwards when you are outside removing snow,” said Secretary Murphy. “Removing the heavy, wet snow that is expected from this storm puts you at greater risk for heart attacks, bodily injuries, and even hypothermia or frostbite.”

Secretary Murphy also reminded caregivers and parents that children should be closely monitored while outdoors.

“It may seem like a winter wonderland outside, especially for children,” Secretary Murphy said. “But heavy, wet snow can prove to be very dangerous for small children. In extreme cold and wind, like the conditions we expect to see over the next few days, children can get frostbite in just 15 minutes.”

Follow these tips to make snow removal safer:

  • If you have any heart attack symptoms, such as pain in your chest or shortness of breath, stop shoveling and call 911.
  • Consider shoveling in shifts instead of all at once.
  • Take breaks and drink water to prevent dehydration.
  • Push snow instead of lifting it – if you must lift, bend your legs and not your back.
  • Avoid twisting motions that can stress your back.
  • If using a snow blower, follow all safety instructions and stay aware of others who may be nearby.

The most common cold-related problems are hypothermia and frostbite. Try to stay indoors as much as possible, but if you must 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:
    • Hypothermia causes shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech or drowsiness in adults and bright red, cold skin and very low energy in children and babies.
    • 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.
    • Seek medical attention if it is suspected that you or your loved ones have hypothermia or frostbite.

Additional information on how to stay safe during a snow storm can be found on the Department of Health’s website at www.health.pa.gov or by following us on Facebook and Twitter.


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