Don't let the cold weather get the best of you and your family.
The weather outside may be frightful, but your winter can still be delightful.
Just follow these important safety tips to help prevent spreading the flu, protect your family from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and know how to put out a grease fire. And, rather than bemoan the cold temperatures, embrace them! Bundle up and enjoy some outdoor activities like skiing, sledding, ice skating or the simple joy of a brisk walk through newly fallen snow. If the cold is too much, take a trip to your local health club or even just a quick walk through an indoor mall. Don't use the cold weather as an excuse to be sedentary.
Fleeing the Flu
At this point of flu season, it may feel like you are surrounded by germs. How can you protect yourself and your family for the duration of the flu season? Good hygiene and a flu shot (it's not too late) are good places to start.
If you've been exposed to the flu, it can take anywhere from one to four days to develop symptoms, which can include fever, headaches and aches and pains, according to Sarah Jonaus, MD, a primary care physician at OSU Internal Medicine at Morehouse. But beware of those who appear healthy. "Adults tend to be contagious from the day before they develop symptoms until up to 10 days after the onset of symptoms," says Dr. Jonaus. "Young children and adults with impaired immune systems can be contagious for even longer."
Practicing good hygiene is critical. Wash your hands for at least 15-20 seconds or frequently use alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60 percent alcohol. Don't touch your hands to any part of your face. If someone in your home has the flu, have him or her stay in one room. Let them claim one bathroom, if possible, and keep all other household members out of that bathroom.
Starting to feel ill? Dr. Jonaus advises anyone who has flu-like symptoms to consult their physician, who can determine if they require further testing or treatment.
Colorless, Odorless Danger
Most frequently caused by an unvented kerosene or natural gas space heater or a malfunctioning furnace, carbon monoxide poisoning is dangerous and potentially deadly. It is colorless and odorless, providing no clues to its presence. The best defense is to have carbon monoxide detectors near or in each bedroom and on every level of your home.
The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
- nausea and vomiting
- rapid heartbeat
- loss of consciousness or coma
Seek medical attention immediately if you suspect that you or a member of your family is a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning. The most severe cases are treated with hyperbaric oxygen. The hyperbaric chamber is used to super-saturate the body with oxygen, rapidly reducing the level of lethal gas in the body. Ohio State's Medical Center is the only facility in central Ohio with the capability of treating carbon monoxide victims with hyperbaric oxygen.
Don't Add Water
Dousing a fire's flames with water is almost instinctual. But, when the fire is fueled by grease, that instinct can have disastrous results. Throwing water on a grease fire can actually cause the flaming grease to splash and spread. The best way to put out a grease fire is to use a fire extinguisher, but if you don't have one handy, you can try to smother the flames with baking soda or by putting a lid on the flaming pot. Never pick up the pan to move it, as this only fans the flames.
Most importantly, if the fire is not easily extinguished, call 911 and get everyone out of the house. If someone does suffer a burn, the specialists at Ohio State's Burn Center provide both inpatient and outpatient care for burn wounds. Our Burn Center is the only certified adult burn center in central Ohio, with a dedicated medical staff and support team who are specialized in the field of burn care.