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CHP reminds public on precautions against cold weather
     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (December 29) reminded the public, particularly the elderly and people with chronic illnesses, to adopt appropriate measures to protect their health in view of the cold weather.

     A spokesman for the CHP said that cold weather can easily trigger diseases, especially among the elderly and persons suffering from heart disease, respiratory illness or chronic illnesses.

     "The elderly have less insulating fat beneath their skin to keep them warm and their body temperature control mechanism may be weaker. Their body may not be able to appropriately respond to the cold weather," the spokesman said.

     Some senior persons may have decreased mobility, which in turn slows down their ability to generate and conserve body heat. Chronic illnesses, including hypertension, diabetes and endocrine disorders, may undermine the health of elderly people and lower their metabolic rate, subsequently causing their body to generate less heat.

     The CHP reminded the public, the elderly and persons with chronic illnesses in particular, to adopt the following preventive measures:
  • Take note of the weather forecast. Wear warm clothing appropriately, including hats, scarves, gloves and socks according to the temperature;
  • Consume sufficient food to ensure adequate calorie intake;
  • Perform regular exercise to facilitate blood circulation and heat production;
  • Stay in a warm environment and avoid prolonged outdoor exposure;
  • Use heaters with care and maintain adequate indoor ventilation; and
  • Seek medical advice if feeling unwell.

     In addition, the public should avoid alcoholic beverages.

     "Drinking alcohol cannot keep you warm. Alcohol accelerates the loss of body heat through dilated blood vessels, resulting in chilling instead," the spokesman said.

     "Parents should ensure that babies are sufficiently warm, but it is also important to keep babies lightly clothed to avoid them getting too hot," the spokesman added.

     Parents should observe the following safety measures when putting their children to bed:
  • Keep the room well ventilated and with a comfortable temperature;
  • Always place babies on their back to sleep. Babies usually sleep well without a pillow;
  • Place babies on a firm and well-fitted mattress to sleep. Avoid soft objects and loose bedding;
  • Leave their head, face and arms uncovered during sleep; and
  • Let babies sleep in a cot placed in the parents' room and near their bed.

     Members of the public are advised to take heed of the following advice to avoid influenza and upper respiratory tract infections:
  • Maintain adequate rest, a balanced diet and regular exercise, and avoid stress and do not smoke;
  • Maintain good personal and environmental hygiene;
  • Ensure good ventilation;
  • Wear a face mask in the event of influenza-like symptoms, while taking care of patients and when visiting hospitals or clinics;
  • Cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing. Dispose of soiled tissue paper in a lidded rubbish bin and wash hands immediately afterwards;
  • Seek medical advice once feeling unwell and stay at home; and
  • Receive seasonal influenza vaccination, which is suitable for all persons aged 6 months or above except those with known contraindications.

     Food-borne diseases, particularly those linked to hot pot cuisine, are also common in cold weather. The following preventive measures should be taken:
  • Wash hands before handling and consuming food;
  • Do not patronise unlicensed vendors or those with poor hygienic standards while selecting food;
  • Wash and cook all food thoroughly;
  • After washing vegetables, soak them in water for one hour to reduce pesticide residues;
  • Shrimps should be fully cooked by cooking them until the shells turn red and the flesh turns white and opaque;
  • For shellfish like scallops and geoduck, scrub the shells thoroughly and remove internal organs;
  • Most hot pot ingredients should be stored in a refrigerator at 4 degrees Celsius or below, while frozen food should be stored in a freezer at -18 degrees or below;
  • Never use raw eggs as a dipping sauce for hot pot; and
  • Use different sets of chopsticks to handle raw and cooked food to avoid cross-contamination.

     For more health information, the public may call the DH's Health Education Hotline (2833 0111) or visit the website of the Central Health Education Unit.
     The public may also call Dial-a-Weather (1878 200) or visit the website of the Hong Kong Observatory for the latest weather information and forecast, or its page on Weather Information for Senior Citizens.
Ends/Thursday, December 29, 2016
Issued at HKT 6:45
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