CENTRAL FLORIDA – Central Florida health departments are urging families to prepare for freezing temperatures and wind chills starting tonight. The National Weather Service says arctic air will bring widespread freezing conditions overnight to most of Central Florida.
“Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature,” said Dr. Kevin Sherin, Director of the Orange County Health Department.
Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water. Victims of hypothermia are often (1) elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating; (2) babies sleeping in cold bedrooms; (3) people who remain outdoors for long periods—the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.; and (4) people who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs.
Floridians should remember the "Five P's" of cold weather safety which are: Protecting People, Protecting Plants, Protecting Pets, Protecting Exposed Pipes, and Practicing Fire Safety. To stay cozy and safe during cold weather, remember these safety tips:
ü Stay indoors and use safe heating sources.
ü When outdoors, stay dry and wear multiple layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing.
ü Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets. Use of extension cords may lead to circuit overload and cause a fire.
ü Keep space heaters away from drapery, furniture or other flammable material. A good rule of thumb is to keep space heaters at least 36 inches from anything flammable.
ü Do not leave space heaters unattended.
ü Do not use a stove or oven as a heat source. An open oven door or lit stove burners can be dangerous and are ineffective as a heat source.
ü Never use grills as an indoor heating source. Charcoal and propane emit carbon monoxide gas and are not suitable for indoor use.
ü Candles are unsafe and ineffective as a heat source. Never leave candles lit in an unattended room or when going to sleep.
ü When using a fireplace, make sure it is properly vented and that the chimney is cleaned periodically to avoid flash fires.
ü Do not burn anything in the fireplace other than firewood and do not leave a fire burning when going to sleep.
ü Install smoke detectors and make sure they work.
ü Install a carbon monoxide detector if you have any gas appliances.
ü Review and practice your family’s fire escape plan.
For more information on cold weather safety, please visit the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s website at www.FloridaDisaster.org