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In Advance of Winter Storm, Rhode Islanders Reminded to Take Health Precautions

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding all Rhode Islanders about steps they should take to help keep themselves healthy and safe before, during, and immediately after the coming storm.

Snow Shoveling

- Talk to your doctor if you have a history of heart trouble to make sure it is safe for you to shovel snow. - Drink plenty of water. You can get dehydrated in cold weather too. - Dress warmly, and dress in several layers so you can remove a layer if needed. Once you are outside shoveling: - Listen to your body. Stop if you feel tired or feel tightness in your chest. - Take it slow, pace yourself, and take breaks. - Don't pick up too much snow at once. Use a smaller shovel, or only fill the shovel part way if you use a large shovel. - Protect your back. Bend from the knees, and lift with your legs bent.

Never bedshare with babies, even if the heat is lost

Babies should always sleep alone, even if the heat is lost in a home. Bedsharing is extremely dangerous. A parent can roll over and prevent the baby from breathing, or the baby can get trapped between the wall and the bed. Babies typically need one more layer of clothing than adults. If your baby seems cold, the baby should be swaddled in a blanket, or dressed in an additional outfit. If you lose power and it is too cold inside your house, go to a friend or family member's home, or go to a warming center. Call 211 for a list of warming centers.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is invisible and odorless. It can cause loss of consciousness or death. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.

- Never use a gas range or oven to heat your house. Do not use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside your house. - If you need to use a generator, make sure it is properly installed and vented. - If you lose power and it is too cold inside your house, go to a friend or family's home or go to a warming center. Call 211 for a list of warming centers.

Food Safety During and After Power Outages

During power outages, the foods items that are of greatest concern are moist, perishable foods. Bacteria can easily grow on this food.

If you believe that you could lose power: - Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting. During power outages: - Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. - If practical, group packages of cold food together to reduce heat gain. Once power has been restored: - Power outages of more than four hours may be hazardous to food. If the food temperature is greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit, or you do not know the food temperature, it is best to throw it out. In other words, when in doubt, throw it out.

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