The Los Angeles County Health Officer is extending a Cold Weather Alert for the Antelope Valley through Tuesday, Jan. 11, due to the National Weather Service’s forecast for low temperatures and a wind chill that is expected to be below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Children, the elderly, and people with disabilities or special medical needs are especially vulnerable during cold weather. Extra precaution should be taken to ensure they don’t get too cold when they are outside,” said Muntu Davis, MD, MPH, Los Angeles County 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.”
Davis advises the following precautions for local residents to protect themselves from the cold:
- Dress in layers of warm clothing if planning to be outdoors.
- Protect head, hands and feet from the cold by wearing a hat, scarf, gloves, and socks.
- Check on and help family members, friends and neighbors with limited mobility and limited access to heat, such as seniors or those who are ill. Check on them frequently.
- Bring pets indoors and do not leave them outside overnight.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has a Winter Shelter Program available for those who need shelter. In the Antelope Valley, the LAHSA shelter is located at 45150 60th Street in Lancaster (High Desert MACC). To check available at the 57-bed facility, call the LA County Information line at 2-1-1 from any landline or cell phone. Transportation information is also available online at https://www.lahsa.org/winter-shelter.
People exposed to cold weather for prolonged periods can lose body heat and develop hypothermia, LA County health officials warn. Symptoms vary depending on the length of time exposed to cold temperatures. Early symptoms of hypothermia 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. Frostbite is a bodily injury caused by freezing that results in loss of feeling and color in affected areas. The most common affected areas are the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. If someone is showing signs of hypothermia or frostbite, you should gently warm the person and seek immediate medical care, according to health officials.
Officials also recommend the following tips prevent carbon monoxide poisoning when heating your home:
- Only use approved heaters, such as electric or natural gas heaters and fireplaces.
- Never use stoves, barbecues and ovens to heat your room or home, as these appliances can produce deadly carbon monoxide gas that can collect inside your home.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home to reduce the risk of poisoning.
- 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.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause 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.
Local residents and business owners, including people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs, may call 2-1-1 or visit www.211la.org for emergency preparedness information and other referral services, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Deaf and hard of hearing residents should call the TDD line at 1-800-660-4026.
[Information via news release from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.]