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Public reminded of health measures during cold weather

     The Department of Health (DH) today (January 27) reminded members of the public, especially vulnerable groups like senior citizens and patients with chronic medical conditions, to take measures to enhance health protection during the cold spell, be they in Hong Kong or travelling abroad.

     A spokesman for the DH stressed the importance of keeping warm in this cold weather. He said, "Cold weather can actually trigger diseases, especially among the elderly and patients suffering from heart, respiratory or chronic medical diseases.

     "The elderly are generally more susceptible to extremes of temperature.

     "Hypertension and diabetes and other chronic medical conditions like dementia, fractures, Parkinson's disease and stroke can also impair our body's ability to adjust to temperature changes."

     He reminded the public to take the following precautions:

* take note of the weather forecast. Wear appropriate clothing, including hats, scarves, gloves and socks as necessary;
* consume sufficient food and drink with adequate calorie content, e.g. hot noodles, hot rice and soup;
* take regular exercise for physical fitness;
* stay in a warm environment and avoid overexposure in open spaces. However, heaters ought to be used with care to ensure safety and adequate indoor ventilation must be maintained; and
* seek healthcare advice if feel unwell.

     In general, alcoholic beverages should also be avoided. "Some people have the misconception that alcohol can keep them warm.  This is not only wrong, but as alcohol can cause blood vessels to dilate, more body heat will actually be lost as a result," the spokesman explained.

     The spokesman also advised members of the public who planned to travel abroad during the lunar new year to take the following additional preventive measures under extremely cold weather, which may lead to chilblains, frostbite and even hypothermia:

* put on sufficient clothing to retain body heat;
* cover exposed body parts, including cheeks, chin, ears and nose, and also protect the extremities, i.e. fingers and toes;
* remove wet clothes as soon as possible.

     Travellers must also observe food and environmental hygiene when staying abroad, including:

* always wash hands before eating and after going to toilets;
* take only thoroughly cooked food and avoid partially cooked ones, including shellfish;
* drink only potable water, canned, pasteurised or bottled drinks from reputable companies;
* avoid drinks prepared with ice of unknown origin;
* avoid peeled fruits and vegetables not thoroughly cleaned and kept;
* do not patronise unlicensed food stores.

     For more information on cold weather measures, the public may call the Central Health Education Unit hotline 2833 0111. Information can also be obtained from the Unit's homepage, As for related travel health advice, information may be obtained from DH's Travel Health Service homepage, .

Ends/Thursday, January 27, 2011
Issued at HKT 19:08


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