Anticipating continuing subzero temperatures, the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) has issued health and safety precautions for seniors and others to take while the cold spell goes on.
DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden, in issuing the information, also emphasized the flu season is still with us and urged anyone who has not had a flu shot to try to get one. For information about where to get the shot, call 311, the city’s non-emergency number.
Frieden stated, "New Yorkers should dress warmly in layers and cover up as much as possible. Since infants and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to body heat loss from cold weather conditions, parents and caregivers should ensure that their loved ones are adequately protected from the cold.
"Basic precautions should be taken while spending time outdoors during winter. Being prepared can help to prevent serious health effects—including frostbite and hypothermia—associated with the cold weather."
Frieden advised: "Protect against colds and the flu. Cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze, wash your hands frequently, consider staying home from work or school if you’re sick, and, if you’re in a high risk group, a flu shot is still recommended to help protect against the flu."
Take these precautions, Frieden said:
•Wear a hat, hood or scarf—body heat is lost through the head.
•Wear layers of clothing rather than a single outerwear item.
•Outer layers of clothing should be tightly woven and wind resistant.
•Be aware of the effects of wind chill—as wind speed increases, it can carry heat away from the body.
•Keep clothing dry—if clothes become wet, change into dry clothes as soon as possible.
•Check in on elderly neighbors to make sure they are warm enough.
Older adults should exercise caution when walking outdoors on wet and icy sidewalks. For more information on preventing falls, visit http//www.nyc.gov/html/dfta/pdf/fallsandfractures.pdf.
Low-income seniors may be eligible for a Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) grant to help pay heating and electric bills. Contact the New York Department for the Aging at 311.
Alcohol doesn’t make you warmer and drinking alcohol when outside in the cold weather is dangerous: it increases risk of hypothermia and frostbite.
Those in a high risk group who should get a flu shot, Frieden said, are:
•Persons 65 years and older and residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that house persons of any age who have long-term illnesses;
•Healthy children ages 6 to 23 months,
•Persons 6 months to 64 years of age who have chronic heart or lung conditions, including asthma.
Persons 65 or over and those 2 to 65 years of age with compromised immune systems or who have chronic medical conditions should also talk to their provider about getting the pneumonia vaccine.
In the event of a heat deficiency, tenants should first notify the building superintendent. If heat is not restored, or for information about the New York City Department for the Aging HEAP program, dial 311. An operator is available 24 hours a day to assist callers. Hearing impaired tenants can call 212-504-4115.
SHARP AT MASPETH S.C.: The Selfhelp Alzheimer’s Resource Program (SHARP), already active at Selfhelp center in Bayside and Flushing, has been expanded to include the Selfhelp Maspeth’s Senior Center at 69-61 Grand Ave.
SHARP is a social adult day care program for individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, and other memory impairments, Selfhelp says in describing the program. Participants benefit from therapeutic activities, which provide both cognitive and physical stimulation in a secure environment.
The SHARP program in Maspeth is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and space is available for new participants. For more information or to discuss enrollment, call Erin Brennan, program director at 718-631-1886.
Selfhelp Community Services operates several senior centers in Queens and elsewhere in the city from its main office in Manhattan.
MEETING: AARP Jackson Heights Chapter No. 991 will hold a business meeting on Wednesday February 4 at 1 p.m. at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights, 37-06 77th St. Students from P.S. 69 will present a musical program.