As residents endured cold temperatures this week, the Los Angeles County Health Department reminded residents of risks.
“Children, the elderly, and people with disabilities or special medical needs are especially vulnerable during such cold snaps. Extra precaution should be taken to ensure they don’t get too cold when they are outside,” said Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH, Los Angeles County Interim Health Officer. “There are places where people can go to stay warm, such as shelters or other public facilities. We also want to remind people not to use stoves, barbeques or ovens to heat their homes due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.”
A Winter Shelter Program is available for seniors and those looking for a place to stay warm. Locations and transportation information can be found on the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s website at: http://www.lahsa.org/winter_shelter_program, or by calling the LA County Information line at 2-1-1 from any landline or cell phone. For the deaf and hard of hearing, please call the TDD line at 1-800-660-4026.
Take precautions to protect yourself from the cold:
· Dress in layers of warm clothing if you plan to be outdoors.
· Protect extremities from the cold by wearing a hat, scarf, gloves, and socks.
· Offer to help those in your neighborhood with limited access to heat, such as seniors or those who are ill. Check on them frequently.
· During peak cold times, if you don’t have a heater in your home, visit indoor public facilities such as shopping malls, libraries or senior centers.
· If you have pets, bring them indoors and do not leave them outside overnight.
· If you use an outdoor generator at home, place it at least 10 feet away from all doors and windows to avoid exhaust gases entering the home.
· Stoves, barbeques and ovens can produce a deadly gas known as carbon monoxide when used to heat a home. Never use these appliances in place of approved heaters such as electric, natural gas, or fireplaces.
· Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home to reduce the risk of poisoning.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include shortness of breath, headaches, muscle and joint pain, and nausea. Exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide could lead to death within minutes. Those suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning should be taken outside, into fresh air, immediately, and should be taken to an emergency room for immediate medical treatment.
Los Angeles County residents and business owners, including people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs may also call 2-1-1 LA County for emergency preparedness information and other referral services. The toll-free 2-1-1 number is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. 2-1-1 LA County services can also be accessed by visiting www.211la.org.