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Don’t Get Caught in the Cold. Atrium Health Navicent Doctors Offer Tips to Keep Your Family Safe

Thermostat covered in icicles.

We may not have had a white Christmas, that doesn’t mean colder temperatures aren’t in store for central Georgia this winter. Atrium Health Navicent physicians want to make sure you and your family are prepared for inclement weather.

“Watch your local weather. If you see that inclement weather is in the near future, prepare early. Do not wait until the last minute. If possible, avoid travel during bad weather and always dress appropriately for cold conditions,” said Dr. John Wood, medical director for the Emergency Center at Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center and chief of staff for Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center.

One of the most important ways to prepare for winter weather, whether at home or on the go, is by dressing your family appropriately. If traveling, be sure to check the weather for your destination and pack the right clothing for your trip.

Babies, especially, require thoughtful consideration when planning their clothing, and careful monitoring for signs they are too cold. Your baby is too cold if they have mottled skin and blueish hands and feet.

“Your baby will need one thick layer, or one thin layer more than you. This would be a sweater for your baby if you are wearing a T-shirt, or maybe even a light blanket or a cover over the stroller, but not both,” said Dr. Christy Peterson, an Atrium Health Navicent pediatrician.

Babies generally don’t need hats inside unless they are coming home from the hospital.

“Your baby needs a hat at birth while in the hospital and then when you go outside once you leave the hospital in cold weather, but they do not usually need a hat inside once you leave the hospital. It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that babies not wear a hat while sleeping,” Peterson said.

Also remember to take your baby’s coat off when you go back inside, so that they do not get too warm, and when you put the baby in a car seat, which is not designed to be used with bulky coats.

“It is possible to dress your baby too warmly,” Peterson said. “A sleeping baby that is too warm is at risk for sudden infant death syndrome.”

Once plans are in place to keep the family warm, it’s important to turn your attention to how to stay warm at home in the event of a power loss due to inclement weather.

“Winter weather can be unpredictable. Snow and sleet can lead to power outages for several days and roads may not be drivable. You may have to shelter in place for several days, so it is good to be prepared,” Wood said.

Experts offer these general tips to prepare your home for winter weather:

  • Have a qualified HVAC service check your heating system before cold weather sets in.

  • Check the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are in good working order.

  • Have flashlights and extra batteries handy. Candles present a fire hazard and are not as good a light source as flashlights or headlamps.

  • If you use a space heater, be sure to keep it at least three feet away from walls, curtains and other flammable materials. Kerosene heaters can be dangerous and are not recommended indoors.

  • Use care around fireplaces and wood stoves. Have both inspected annually by a professional.

  • Store a supply of rock salt to prevent slipping on icy steps and walkways.

  • Ensure your emergency kit is up-to-date and contains food, water, medication, money, work gloves, a flashlight with extra batteries, a crank radio, blankets and a small shovel. Do not forget your pet’s food and water needs. If there are infants and toddlers in the home, be sure to include items like diapers and formula.

  • Create a buddy system with neighbors and check on each other in the event of adverse winter weather.

If you are traveling this winter, it’s important to keep an eye on the weather forecast so that you can make the best plans to protect your family from the possibility of severe weather.

“Check the weather for your destination before you leave. If there is inclement weather, either postpone your trip or leave earlier so you have time to safely get to your destination,” Wood said.

Here are a few tips for readying your car for winter travel:

  • Make sure your car battery is properly charged and fluids are topped off.

  • Fill your tank up with gas at the beginning of your trip.

  • Always have jumper cables in your car just in case your vehicle breaks down.

  • Replace all dirty filters, including fuel, air, PCV and others.

  • Check your car’s heater system to ensure it’s working properly, and that the window defroster works.

  • Keep an emergency kit in your car that includes items such as boots, gloves, blankets, water, snacks, medications, an additional car charger and other essentials.

No matter where you are this winter, there is the chance that a loved one could find themselves in trouble if they get too cold.

“If someone is shivering uncontrollably, is less responsive, confused or difficult to awaken, you should seek care,” Wood said.

If you or a loved one are experiencing concerning symptoms after prolonged exposure to winter weather, seek appropriate medical treatment. For emergency situations, call 911 or seek care at the nearest emergency center. Atrium Health Navicent offers emergency care at the following locations:

  • Atrium Health Navicent Baldwin 821 North Cobb Street Milledgeville, GA 31061

  • Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children's Hospital 888 Pine Street Macon, GA 31201

  • Atrium Health Navicent Peach Emergency Department 1960 Hwy 247 Connector Byron, GA 31008

  • Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center 770 Pine Street Macon, GA 31201

  • Monroe County Hospital, Atrium Health Navicent Partner 88 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive Forsyth, GA 31029

  • Putnam General Hospital, Atrium Health Navicent Partner 101 Greensboro Road Eatonton, GA 31024

For non-life-threatening injuries, visit your nearest urgent care provider. Atrium Health Navicent provides urgent care at three Macon-Bibb County locations.

  • Atrium Health Navicent Urgent Care – East 1339 Gray Highway Macon, GA 31211

  • Atrium Health Navicent Urgent Care – North 3400 Riverside Drive Macon, GA 31210

  • Atrium Health Navicent Urgent Care – Northwest 5925 Zebulon Road Macon, GA 31210


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