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For Release: Feb. 10, 2011 – Larry Weatherford, Office of Communications – 405/271-5601

Update -- Winter Storm Injury Statistics

Winter storm-related injuries reported at hospitals throughout Oklahoma in the past two days now total more than 240, the Oklahoma State Department of Health announced today. Of that number, 174 injuries were attributed to falls.  

For Wednesday alone, 160 injuries were reported with 111 of those recorded as falls.

Health officials warn that extreme cold temperatures can lead to serious injury.

Prolonged exposure to the cold can cause frostbite, hypothermia, or in extreme cases, death. Infants and the elderly are most susceptible to extreme cold.  Frostbite occurs when the skin becomes cold enough to actually freeze. A loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the nose are symptoms of frostbite.  Hypothermia (low body temperature) can occur during longer periods of exposure when the body temperature drops below 95 F. A person will become disoriented, confused, and shiver uncontrollably, eventually leading to drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. In severe cases, death is possible. The following tips can help decrease the risk of cold exposure: 

  • Wear layered clothing outdoors for better protection from the cold. Wear a cap to prevent rapid heat loss from an uncovered head. Cover exposed skin to prevent frostbite.
  • While indoors, try to keep at least one room heated to 70 F. This is especially important for the elderly and small children to prevent hypothermia.
  • Sleep warm with extra blankets, a warm cap, socks and layered clothing.
  • Avoid fatigue and exhaustion during cold weather. Overexertion, such as shoveling snow or pushing a car, can strain your heart.
  • Carry extra clothing, blankets and high energy snacks, such as cereal or candy bars in your car for protection if car stalls. Keep the gas tank near full to prevent icing. Don't travel alone.
  • Check daily on elderly friends, relatives and neighbors who live alone.
  • The elderly and very young should stay indoors as much as possible. Offer to shop for elderly friends and relatives. Just like in the summer with heat, it takes some time to get acclimated to cold weather.

A summary of all winter storm-related injuries February 8 – 9, 2011 follows:

Falls: 174
Transportation Related: 33
Cuts/Piercings: 13
Struck by/Against: 10
Poisonings: 10

Total: 240

Winter weather precautions are available on the Oklahoma State Department of Health Web site at www.health.ok.gov.

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