Md. health department says be prepared as wintry weather heads to DC area

An employee of the Capitol Visitors of the US Capitol Building in Washington, arrives to work as snow flakes fall, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. The wintry mix prompted some federal agency to close as the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the Eastern Seaboard, including Baltimore, Washington, DC., and Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)(ASSOCIATED PRESS/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Snow is in the forecast this week, and while the temperatures might not be freezing, the Maryland Health Department wants residents to be prepared.

“Being prepared reduces your risk of health problems related to cold and wind and damp weather,” said Sherry Adams, director of the state Health Department’s Office of Preparedness and Response.

Some of the things that pose risks when the temperature falls, as it will on Tuesday and Wednesday before warming up, include carbon monoxide poisoning from the use of unsafe heat sources and hypothermia due to exposure to cold weather. Those pose serious dangers every winter, regardless of whether it’s a deep freeze or only in the 20s.

“People associate frostbite with freezing temperatures,” Adams said, but “hypothermia can occur at higher-than-freezing temperatures, especially when a person becomes damp.”

While the region has yet to receive much snow, activities like shoveling or even exercising outdoors also require additional caution during the winter. Exertion in cold weather, Adams said, could lead to heart attack or stroke.

It’s also important to take time to check on potentially vulnerable neighbors, she said.

The Maryland Department of Health is available for anyone who needs winter-related resources, and it encourages residents to call 211 for assistance.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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