A cold weather alert was issued Wednesday for the Antelope Valley due to wind-chill temperatures expected to fall below 32 degrees.
Dr. Muntu Davis, the county’s public health officer, noted that children, the elderly and people with disabilities or special medical needs are especially vulnerable during cold weather. He said extra precautions should be taken to ensure they don’t get too cold when they are outside. Davis suggested that everyone dress in layers of warm clothing if spending time outdoors, and protect the head, hands and feet from the cold by wearing a hat, scarf, gloves and socks.
People should check frequently on and help family members, friends and neighbors with limited mobility and limited access to heat, such as seniors or those who are ill, and bring pets indoors overnight.
Davis also warned of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, noting that people should avoid using stoves, barbecues or ovens to heat their homes, and should install a detector for the odorless gas. People exposed to cold weather for prolonged periods can lose body heat and develop hypothermia. Symptoms vary depending on how long a person is exposed to cold temperatures, but early symptoms include shivering, fatigue, loss of coordination, and confusion and disorientation.
Late symptoms of hypothermia include no shivering, blue skin, dilated pupils, slowed pulse and breathing, and loss of consciousness.
People exposed to extremely cold weather conditions, such as places where it snows and where freezing occurs, may be at risk of frostbite, which results in loss of feeling and color in affected areas. The most common affected areas are the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause shortness of breath, headaches, muscle and joint pain, and nausea. Exposure to high levels could lead to death within minutes.
Those who need shelter can take advantage of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s Winter Shelter Program, and can go to www.lahsa.org or call the 2-1-1 information line. For the deaf and hard of hearing, call the TDD line at 1-800-660-4026.