Gov. issues warning as mercury plummets

With wind chill advisories and wind chill warnings from the National Weather Service throughout much of Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf and the departments of Human Services and Health are urging Pennsylvanians to take steps to reduce the risk of health hazards.

“I encourage all Pennsylvanians to be safe and stay aware over the next few days of extreme cold,” said Gov. Wolf in a press release.  “Also be sure to check on your neighbors and bring your pets indoors.”

Following are health and safety tips from the commonwealth.

Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning during power outages:

*   Never use an electric generator, camp stove or similar device indoors since they produce carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas that builds up in closed spaces and is deadly.

*   Leave your home immediately and call 9-1-1 if your carbon monoxide detector sounds. Get medical help right away if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and are dizzy, light-headed or nauseous.

“It’s critically important that Pennsylvanians use caution to protect their health and safety this winter. Extreme temperatures are expected, posing severe health threats including frostbite and hypothermia,” Dr. Rachel Levine, acting physician general for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, said in the release. “If you will be spending time outdoors, try to dress warmly and be sure to keep exposed skin areas covered.”

Stay as warm as possible:

*   Hypothermia is a serious condition that happens when your body temperature is too low. Older Pennsylvanians and babies are most at risk and should be checked frequently. If your power is out for a long time, stay with a relative or friend, or go to a shelter if one is open in your area.

*   If you must venture outdoors, make trips brief and dress warmly. Cover your ears, head, mouth and face to prevent frostbite.

*   The Department of Human Services (DHS) is still accepting applications for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) 2014-15 heating season. LIHEAP assists low-income Pennsylvanians with home heating bills. Crisis and regular LIHEAP grants are available to renters and homeowners. Online applications can be completed by visiting www.compass.state.pa.us.

*   More detailed information, including downloadable emergency home and car kit checklists and emergency plan templates, is available online at www.ReadyPA.org.

*   For more extensive information on managing cold weather, visit www.health.pa.gov or call 1-877-PA-HEALT

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