Health and Safety Podcast Transcript: Jan. 27, 2010
Hello, and welcome to the Fairfax County Health and Safety Podcast for Jan. 26, 2010. I’m Jim Person, Fairfax County emergency information officer. Coming up, learn about the dangers of hypothermia. Links to topics mentioned in this podcast can be found online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov.
Hypothermia is defined as having a core body temperature of 96 degrees Fahrenheit or lower and can occur when the outside environment gets too cold or the body's heat production decreases. Older adults are especially vulnerable to hypothermia because their body's response to cold can be diminished by underlying medical conditions such as diabetes and some medicines, including over-the-counter cold remedies.
If you see someone who has been exposed to the cold and has the following symptoms – slowed or slurred speech, sleepiness or confusion, shivering or stiffness in the arms and legs, poor control over body movements or slow reactions, and a weak pulse – he or she may be suffering from hypothermia. Here are a few tips for older adults to help prevent hypothermia:
- Make sure your home is warm enough. Set your thermostat to at least 68 to 70 degrees Farenheit. Even mildly cool homes with temperatures from 60 to 65 degrees can trigger hypothermia in older people.
- To stay warm at home, wear long underwear under your clothes, along with socks and slippers. Use a blanket or afghan to keep legs and shoulders warm and wear a hat or cap indoors.
- When venturing outside in the cold, it is important to wear a hat, scarf and gloves or mittens to prevent loss of body heat through your head, hands and feet. A hat is particularly important because a large portion of body heat loss is through the head. Wear several layers of warm loose clothing to help trap warm air between the layers.
- Check with your doctor to see if any prescription or over-the-counter medications you are taking may increase your risk for hypothermia.
More information is online at www.nih.gov.
In Fairfax County, more than 2,000 volunteers are coming together this winter to help protect those in the community who are homeless and could be at risk of hypothermia. This is the sixth year that local faith communities, businesses and nonprofit organizations are partnering with Fairfax County Government to prevent hypothermia deaths.
This community-based effort supplements the year-round shelter and additional winter capacity offered by the county's homeless shelters. This winter, even more hypothermia prevention shelter sites are available, and are open every night through March 15 in four regions of the county.
If you see someone at night who is unsheltered, and you think they could be at risk of hypothermia, call the county's non-emergency phone line at 703-691-2131. County personnel will determine which shelter option is best in the situation.
And finally, to readily monitor severe weather conditions, place a weather radio or television in an accessible place at work for employees. Keep a weather radio or TV at home as well. You can view active weather alerts at www.NOAA.gov. That’s www.N-O-A-A.gov.
That’s it for this edition of the Fairfax County Health and Safety Podcast, produced by the Fairfax County, Virginia government. Thanks for listening. Additional information about health and safety topics and emergency preparedness may be found online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov. And remember, if you have a police, fire or medical emergency, call 9-1-1. For non-emergency needs, call 703-691-2131.