Whether winter brings severe winds or just cold temperatures, it is important to know how to keep both safe and warm. During winter, people must always keep in mind that cold weather conditions do not actually cause colds and flu. It is actually viruses that cause colds and flu and these tend to be common in the winter months, especially since people are making close contact so much in order to keep warm. It is important to ensure personal hygiene is good with frequent hand washing encouraged to help reduce the spread of colds and flu. There is also a flu shot that is available to both adults and children, from the ages of six months and upwards.
Winter warming items should be checked before use so as to avoid faults that could lead to accidents, such as burns and electric shocks. Although hot water bottles are perhaps safer on the whole, the bottles must be replaced every two to three years to avoid them leaking. Electric blankets and heaters should always be checked for faults prior to use in order to avoid accidents. Parents should teach children to keep away from open fires and gas stoves, and also ensure that heaters are not placed too close to furniture and walls.
Many deaths in winter are due to carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of gas burners, coal stoves and fires, especially for those living in shacks and on the street. Wood, petrol and oil are other fuel sources that can also produce carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas that is slightly lighter than air. It can be dangerous to humans and animals when encountered in higher concentrations. It is produced from carbon containing compounds and it forms when there is not enough oxygen to produce carbon dioxide.
When you breathe in carbon monoxide, it gets into your blood stream and prevents red blood cells from carrying oxygen. Without oxygen, your body tissues and cells die and it can cause serious harm to health when breathed in over a long period of time. Long-term effects can include paralysis and brain damage. Such long-term effects occur because many people are unaware of appliances that might be unsafe in their homes, or of potential gas leaks that might exist.
Symptoms caused by the effects of carbon monoxide could include severe headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, collapsing and loss of consciousness. Other warning signs that could point to potential carbon poisoning are that you only experience symptoms when you are at home, and that other family members also experience the symptoms
Carbon monoxide poisoning can easily be avoided by opening doors and windows when using gas or coal heating sources in the home. After use, make sure all these appliances are switched off. Visit your local hospital or doctor immediately if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and they will run blood tests or breath tests to check for any ill effects. Finally, get a gas registered engineer to inspect your gas appliances for leakage