Stay Safe and Healthy Through The Winter Season
State health officials encourage North Carolinians to take health and safety precautions during the winter months.
“North Carolina weather patterns may fluctuate and we can experience mild temperatures and also very cold temperatures,” said Public Health Preparedness and Response Director Julie Casani, MD. “Basic prevention measures and knowledge of local resources can help during the cold months.”
Carbon Monoxide Safety
In 2015, one person died from unintentional, non-fire related carbon monoxide poisoning in North Carolina. More than 218 people required emergency department care. To protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Never use a gas-powered generator or other fuel-burning appliances indoors or in your garage.
- Install a carbon monoxide alarm with an Underwriters Laboratory UL™ listing on each level of your home and near all sleeping areas. Carefully follow the directions to ensure proper alarm placement and check the batteries regularly.
- Replace alarms more than seven years old or when end-of-service indicator chirps.
- If your CO alarm sounds, evacuate your home and call 9-1-1.
Food Safety Without Power – When In Doubt, Throw It Out!
When power is lost, all refrigerated and frozen food should be evaluated before it is used or refrozen. You cannot always see or smell the bacteria that can make you sick. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers the following food safety information for anticipated power outages:
- Frozen, partially-thawed food is safe to cook or refreeze if it still contains ice crystals or has not risen above 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep refrigerated foods at or below 41 degrees Fahrenheit and frozen food at or below zero degrees Fahrenheit.
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) and the door remains closed.
In the 2015-16 flu season, there were 59 flu-associated deaths. This is a reminder that flu can be a serious illness, especially for adults older than 65, children younger than 5, pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease.
DHHS encourages vaccinations for everyone 6 months and older, and the following precautions to protect against the spread of flu and other viruses during the winter months:
- Wash hands frequently, preferably with soap and water or an approved hand sanitizer.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then discard the tissue promptly.
- If you are sick with flu, stay home until you have been fever free for at least 24 hours.
For more information on flu and to learn where you can receive a flu vaccination in your community, visit flu.nc.gov.
Low-Income Energy Assistance Program
For many of North Carolina’s most vulnerable citizens, meeting the expense of household heating during the cold of winter may be a challenge. County Social Services Departments are accepting applications for the state's Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP), which provides federal payment assistance for one month of heating to those who qualify. Last year, LIEAP provided heating assistance to more than 141,000 households across North Carolina. For more information on eligibility and how to apply, contact information for your local social services is available using the interactive map at www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/dss/local-county-social-services-offices.
For more information on how to prepare for winter related events download the free ReadyNC app, or visit www.readync.org for real-time traffic and weather conditions, open shelters and items needed in emergency supply kits.