The County Health Officer is issuing a Cold Weather Alert due to the National Weather Service’s forecast for low temperatures. Wind chill temperatures are expected to be below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Affected areas include the San Fernando Valley area, the Santa Clarita Valley area, the Antelope Valley area and the Los Angeles County mountain areas.
“Children, the elderly, and people with disabilities or special medical needs are especially vulnerable during such cold snaps. Extra precaution should be taken to ensure they don’t get too cold when they are outside,” said Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH, Los Angeles County Interim Health Officer. “There are places where people can go to stay warm, such as shelters or other public facilities. We also want to remind people not to use stoves, barbecues or ovens to heat their homes due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.”
A Winter Shelter Program is available for seniors and those looking for a place to stay warm. Locations and transportation information can be found on the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s website at http://www.lahsa.org/winter_shelter_program, or by calling the LA County Information line at 2-1-1 from any landline or cell phone. For the deaf and hard of hearing, please call the TDD line at 1-800-660-4026.
Take precautions to protect yourself from the cold by dressing in layers of warm clothing outdoors. Protect extremities from the cold by wearing a hat, scarf, gloves and socks. Offer to help those in your neighborhood with limited access to heat, such as seniors or those who are ill. Check on them frequently. During peak cold times, if you don’t have a heater in your home, visit indoor public facilities such as shopping malls, libraries or senior centers.
If you have pets, bring them indoors and do not leave them outside overnight. If you use an outdoor generator at home, place it at least 10 feet away from all doors and windows to avoid exhaust gases entering the home. Stoves, barbecues and ovens can produce a deadly gas known as carbon monoxide when used to heat a home. Never use these appliances in place of approved heaters such as electric, natural gas, or fireplaces. Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home to reduce the risk of poisoning.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include shortness of breath, headaches, muscle and joint pain, and nausea. Exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide could lead to death within minutes. Those suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning should be taken outside, into fresh air, immediately, and should be taken to an emergency room for immediate medical treatment.
Los Angeles County residents and business owners, including people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs may also call 2-1-1 LA County for emergency preparedness information and other referral services. The toll-free 2-1-1 number is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. 2-1-1 LA County services can also be accessed by visiting www.211la.org.
The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises nearly 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $900 million. To learn more about the LA County Department of Public Health and the work they do, visit PublicHealth.LACounty.gov, and follow Public Health on social media at twitter.com/LAPublicHealth, facebook.com/LAPublicHealth, and youtube.com/LAPublicHealth.