Cold Spell’s Coming, Follow Advice From DFTA To Protect Yourself
The city Department for the Aging (DFTA) recently issued a winter weather advisory for seniors which they would be wise to follow since forecasters are predicting that this area is in for a cold spell this week.
The DFTA recommends the following health and safety precautions for seniors throughout the winter season:
•Avoid prolonged exposure to the cold and take short rests to warm up when shoveling snow.
•Always wear a hat or scarf over your head—almost 30 percent of body heat is lost through an uncovered head.
•Dress warmly in layers of clothing, rather than a single heavy jacket, to provide insulation from the cold.
•Make sure clothing is dry. If clothes become wet while outside, get indoors and change as soon as possible.
•Do not drink alcoholic beverages. Alcohol increases the risk of frostbite and hypothermia.
•Drink water and other uncaffeinated beverages to remain hydrated.
In his advisory, DFTA Commissioner Edwin Mendez–Santiago noted that seniors exposed to the cold are at increased risk of hypothermia, a potentially life threatening condition in which core body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Symptoms of hypothermia include confusion or mental disorientation, fatigue and irregular heartbeat, the commissioner explained. Additional symptoms may include shivering, slurred speech, memory loss, sleepiness, cool or pale skin, slightly blue lips or numbness in hands or feet.
“Anyone suspected of developing hypothermia should be brought into a warm environment and seen by a medical professional as quickly as possible,” Mendez–Santiago said.
Frostbite is another cold-weather condition that can affect any area of the body exposed to cold temperatures, the commissioner explained. Frostbite most frequently affects extremities including fingers, toes, ears and nose. Areas of the body affected by frostbite should be warmed quickly, but not by applying intense heat. Frostbite should also be treated by a medical professional, Mendez-Santiago advised.
He summed up: “Being prepared is the key to getting ready for any storm. Seniors should call 311 to receive a ‘Ready New York’ household preparedness guide. This guide provides the foundation for preparing for most emergencies.”
The key bit of advice, at the top of this list is: avoid prolonged exposure to the cold. In fact, don’t go out unless it’s necessary.
One other thing to remain aware of, the commissioner said: “During the winter months or during any emergencies, New York City residents are urged to check up on their elderly neighbors as they may need additional assistance during these times.”
NOTE TO VETERANS: Recently, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives replaced Congressmember Christopher H. Smith (R–N.J.) as chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee. This is an important position because the chairman has a big influence over whether legislation involving veterans’ programs gets approved or gets set aside.
Smith was a strong supporter of veterans’ programs. According to a New York Times story, Smith wrote 22 veteran-related laws during four years as chairman and advocated improvements to the G.I. Bill, increasing spending for the veterans’ health care system and the creation of new loans for young veterans seeking to buy a house.
Why did the Republican leaders replace Smith as chairman?
According to Richard B. Fuller, national legislative director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, quoted in the same story: “The Republicans needed a chairman who would consistently say ‘no’ to veterans’ groups and say ‘yes’ to the Republican leadership. That meant get rid of Chris Smith.”
Other veterans’ group leaders criticized Smith’s removal. Another veterans’ leader, Dennis M. Cullinan, national legislative director of the VFW, said, “Smith did the job of advocating for veterans too well and he paid the price.”
In other words, Smith didn’t go along with the Bush presidential administration’s steep cuts in the Department of Veterans Affairs budgets.
Smith was replaced by Congressmember Steve Buyer (R–Indiana), who had 24 years’ service in the military and is a colonel in the Army Reserves.