NEW BRUNSWICK – Michael Hochberg, M.D., chairman of the department of emergency medicine at Saint Peter’s University Hospital, said his facility expects to see about 65,000 to 70,000 emergency patients this year, many of them with wintertime ills.
But he adds there are many ways to avoid an unplanned hospital trip. His advice includes:
Cold-Weather Tips To Avoid The Emergency Room
- Get a flu shot for children who are more than 6 months old and for older adults or adults with a chronic illness. The flu is one of the biggest – and the most easily preventable – reasons that people seek emergency treatment when winter weather arrives.
- Use caution when performing outdoor chores. Shoveling snow can be a risk for people with heart disease. And snow blowers present an accident danger if used improperly.
- Dress properly to avoid overexposure risks posed by the winter elements.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector in the home and test it regularly to ensure that it operates properly. Carbon monoxide build-up in the home can be deadly. Severe carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms include chest pain, headache, vomiting, and delusions.
- Help children avoid the dreaded stomach flu (also known as the rotavirus), which thrives in cold, dry winter climates. The best prevention is frequent hand washing.
What To Bring To The Hospital
- Bring a list of medications.
- Make a note of any allergies.
- Provide the names and contact information of personal physicians.
- Carry an I.D. such as driver’s license.
- Fully describe all symptoms of the illness, no matter how small.
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