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News Release    

December 13, 2007      

For Further Information, Contact:
William R. Steinhaus, County Executive
(845) 486-2000

County Executive Steinhaus Urges Storm Safety

Poughkeepsie… As Dutchess County encounters the first major snowstorm of the season, Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus encourages all County residents to make a winter safety checklist and check it twice!

“It is beautiful to watch the snow fall and transform the county into a winter wonderland, but the snow and cold weather can be dangerous if you are not prepared,” said County Executive Steinhaus.    “We urge all residents to exercise some common sense safety precautions to weather the storm safely.  Know the danger signs of cold weather and take preventive action as your best defense against the storm conditions.”

Tips from the Dutchess County Department of Health to stay healthy & safe:

Winter weather brings the danger of frostbite and hypothermia.   Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk, but anyone can be affected.  

When working or playing outdoors during the winter, you can develop frostbite and not even be aware of it.   There is no pain associated with the early stages of frostbite, so be alert for these frostbite danger signs:

  • Skin may feel numb and become flushed.   

  • Skin then turns white or grayish-yellow.   

  • Frostbitten skin feels cold to the touch. Never rub frostbitten skin.

If you suspect frostbite, move to a warm area and cover the affected area with something warm and dry.    Get to a doctor or hospital as quickly as possible.

Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can cause hypothermia.  Know the symptoms to watch for and how to respond to hypothermia.   Symptoms of hypothermia include inability to concentrate, poor coordination, slurred speech, drowsiness, exhaustion, and uncontrollable shivering, followed by a sudden lack of shivering.  

  • If the person's body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, get emergency medical assistance immediately! 

  • Remove wet clothing, wrap the victim in warm blankets and give warm, non-alcoholic, decaffeinated liquids until help arrives.

Cold temperatures put an extra strain on your heart. Heavy exertion, such as shoveling snow, clearing debris or pushing a car, can increase the risk of a heart attack. To avoid problems, remember these tips:

  • Stay warm, dress warm and SLOW DOWN when working outdoors. 

  • Take frequent rests to avoid over exertion. 

  • If you feel chest pain -- STOP and seek medical help immediately.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning claims lives every year.   The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increases during the winter as use of furnaces, space heaters and fireplaces increases.   Protect yourself and your family against carbon monoxide with these tips:

  • Do not operate generators indoors; the motor emits deadly carbon monoxide gas. 

  • Do not use charcoal to cook indoors. It, too, can cause a buildup of carbon monoxide gas. 

  • Do not use your gas oven to heat your home -- prolonged use of an open oven in a closed house can create carbon monoxide gas. 

  • Make sure fuel space heaters are used with proper ventilation – open a window slightly.

Tips from the Dutchess County Department of Emergency Response for safe winter driving:

The Dutchess County Department of Public Works Highway Division is out on county roads, working hard to keep the roads clear for safe winter driving.   The following are important safety tips for winter driving:

  • Take winter driving seriously.  Travel only if necessary.

  • Listen to local radio stations or check online for cancellations and closings.

  • Make sure other people know your travel plans.

  • Clear snow and ice from all windows and lights before driving.   

  • Leave room for maintenance vehicles and plows.   Stay back at least 200 feet and don’t pass on the right.

  • Most importantly, SLOW DOWN when driving.   Remember, the posted speed limit is for dry weather conditions.

Other driver safety tips to help drivers prepare for storms throughout the season are:

  • Make sure your vehicle is ready for the winter season with a tune-up, snow tires or tires with good tread, a charged battery and sufficient anti-freeze.

  • Equip your vehicle with a winter survival kit which should include a first aid kits, charged cell phone, ice scraper/snow brush, flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, blankets, small shovel, sand or kitty litter (for tire traction) and brightly-colored cloth to use as a distress flag.

  • Keep your gas tank full to prevent gasoline freeze-up.

For a complete winter safety checklist, visit http://www.co.dutchess.ny.us/.



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Last Updated: 12/13/2007