LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles County's health officer today issued acold weather alert for the Lancaster area as wind chill temperatures are forecast to dip below freezing starting tonight.
The alert will be in effect through at least Monday.
``Children, the elderly and people with disabilities or special medical needs are especially vulnerable during cold weather,'' said Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis.
``Extra precaution should be taken to ensure they don't get too cold when they are outside. 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.''
He urged residents to shelter indoors during peak cold times and take the following precautions:
-- Dress in layers of warm clothing, including hats, scarves, gloves and socks to protect heads, hands and feet from the cold;
-- Frequently check on and help family members, friends and neighbors with limited mobility and limited access to heat, such as seniors or those who are ill;
-- Never use stoves, barbecues and ovens to heat your room or home, as these appliances can produce carbon monoxide;
-- Place any outdoor generator at least 10 feet away from all doors and windows to avoid exhaust gases entering the home; and
-- Bring any pets indoors and do not leave them outside overnight.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has a Winter Shelter Program available for those who need shelter. Locations and transportation information can be found at www.lahsa.org or by calling the LA County Information line at 2-1-1.
People exposed to cold weather for prolonged periods can lose body heat and develop hypothermia. Early symptoms include shivering, fatigue, loss of coordination, confusion and disorientation. As hypothermia progresses, shivering may stop and residents may experience blue skin, dilated pupils, slowed pulse and breathing, and loss of consciousness.
Immediate medical care should be sought for anyone showing signs of hypothermia or frostbite, which most commonly affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes.