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Stay Healthy During Winter Storms

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Winter Weather Tips:

When shoveling snow:

  • Ease into shoveling and warm up as if you are exercising. Don't over-exert yourself, take your time and don't lift more snow than you can handle. Shoveling snow can raise your heart rate and blood pressure dramatically
  • Push snow. Lift it if possible
  • Use your legs and not your back to lift snow
  • Don't pick too much snow up at once, if the snow is wet and heavy, use a small shovel, or only fill one-fourth or one-half of a large shovel

Don't work to the point of exhaustion. If you run out of breath, take a break. If you feel tightness in your chest stop shoveling immediately and call for medical assistance if symptoms persist.

Protect yourself from extreme cold weather:

Perhaps most important is to wear the clothing that protects you from cold weather:

  • a winter coat
  • a hat
  • a scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
  • sleeves that are snug at the wrist
  • mittens (they are warmer than gloves)
  • water-resistant shoes

Be sure to dress in layers with the outer layer of your clothing tightly woven and preferably wind resistant, to reduce body-heat loss caused by wind.

Wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton.

Stay dry—wet clothing chills the body rapidly. Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm.

Eating well-balanced meals will help also you stay warmer. Drink warm, sweet beverages such as hot chocolate to help maintain your body temperature. If you have any dietary restrictions, ask your doctor.

Limit your alcohol. Alcohol consumption can dialate blood vessel near the skill, meaning more blood and heat flow to these vessels. While that may a person feel warmer, it actually takes blood and heat from the core of the body.


  • Frostbite is a condition caused by freezing.
  • It causes a loss of feeling and color to the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes.
  • Seek medical care if you think you have frostbite.

Recognizing Frostbite:

At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin-frostbite may be beginning. Any of the following signs may indicate frostbite:

  • a white or grayish-yellow skin area
  • skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
  • numbness

A victim is often unaware of frostbite until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb.

For more information, visit the frostbite page.


  • When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced.
  • Low body temperature may make you unable to think clearly or move well.
  • You may not know you have hypothermia.
  • If your temperature is below 95 degrees, the situation is an emergency seek medical attention immediately.

Recognizing Hypothermia:

Its important to recognize the signs of hypothermia:

In adults:

  • shivering, exhaustion
  • confusion, fumbling hands
  • memory loss, slurred speech
  • drowsiness

In infants:

  • bright red, cold skin
  • very low energy

For more information, visit the hypothermia page.

When using generators:

  • Never run a generator in a basement, garage or any enclosed or partially enclosed structure as this will lead to a dangerous and often fatal accumulation of carbon monoxide.
  • Never position a generator too close to your home's windows and doors.
  • Use battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms. Test and change the batteries at regular intervals
  • Never connect a generator directly to your home's wiring unless your home has been wired for generator use. This can cause backfeeding along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including lineworkers making repairs
  • Always plug appliances directly into generators
  • Use heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cords. Make sure extension cords are free of cuts or tears and the plug has three prongs
  • Ensure your generator is properly grounded
  • Never overload a generator. A portable generator should only be used when necessary to power essential equipment or appliances
  • Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting it down.
  • Keep the generator dry. Operate it on a dry surface under an open structure
  • Always have a fully charged fire extinguisher nearby
  • Never fuel a generator while it is operating and wait until it is cool to the touch

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:

If you are using a generator and suspect carbon monoxide poisoning take immediate action including:

  • Call 9-1-1 immediately if a person is not breathing, is unconscious or unresponsive, or having seizures or convulsions
  • Exit the home/building/enclosed space immediately
  • Contact your local fire department

The NJ Poison Information and Education Systems (NJ PIES) has a toll-free, 24/7 information line at 1-800-222-1222 where individuals can talk to health professionals about carbon monoxide poisoning.

Other Resources:

Preparedness is everyone’s responsibility:

Whether it is getting ready for a disease outbreak like H1N1 influenza, preparing for a hurricane or a blizzard or protecting your family against bioterror agents like anthrax, preparing for a public health emergency is everyone’s responsibility.

Though some people feel it is impossible to be prepared for unexpected events, the truth is that taking preparedness actions helps people deal with disasters of all sorts much more effectively when they do occur.

The New Jersey Department of Health has developed plans and procedures to prepare and respond to all threats to our public health.

We have also developed a wealth of information and educational materials to help you prepare.

Take your responsibility seriously and help protect your family, your community, your state.

Are You Prepared?

The New Jersey Department of Health, in collaboration with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Red Cross, offer the following information on how families and individuals can prepare for all types of emergencies.

Get An Emergency Kit:

Every family should have an emergency kit created that will help them survive in their house or at a shelter for several days to a week.

The emergency kit includes the basics for survival: fresh water, food, clean air, and warmth.

To prepare and maintain an emergency k, print the DOH Emergency Supply Checklist. [English PDF 45k] [Español PDF 45k]

Make an Emergency Plan:

Make plans with your family and friends in case you're not together during an emergency. Discuss how you'll contact each other, where you'll meet, and what you'll do in different situations.

Learn how to make an Emergency Plan in Ready Together New Jersey, DOH’ Public Health Guide to Emergency Planning.

Ready together NJ

Ready Together New Jersey is a comprehensive guide that features a wealth of information on all aspects of planning for all health emergencies.

Stay Informed:

Being prepared means staying informed. Check all types of media – Web sites, newspapers, radio, TV, mobile and land phones – for global, national and local information. During an emergency, your local Emergency Management or Emergency Services office will give you information on such things as open shelters and evacuation orders.

The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services website serves as a resources for all health-related information in New Jersey and will provide updates during incidents. Make sure to bookmark on your personal computers.

Get Involved:

New Jersey Medical Reserve CorpsGetting involved is one of the best ways to stay prepared and protect you and your family. Consider taking first aid and emergency response training, participating in community exercises, and volunteering to support local first responders. Consider joining your local Medical Reserve Corps, which coordinates activities through volunteers to make communities safer, stronger and better prepared to respond to public health emergencies

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Last Modified: Tuesday, 17-Feb-15 12:58:38