La Niña conditions can pose winter health risks

December 6, 2010

By Staff

NEW — 6 a.m. Dec. 6, 2010

Winter does not start until Dec. 21, but recent snowfall and windstorms serve as a reminder for residents to prepare for a safe and healthy winter.

Forecasters predict a colder and wetter winter than normal for the Pacific Northwest due to La Niña conditions. Ocean temperatures near the equator indicate a La Niña winter is in the offing.

Increased precipitation and snowmelt could mean flooding in the Issaquah area.

Flooding due to heavy rains and melting snow can make well water unsafe to drink, because floodwaters carry diseases and other contaminants. If a well has flooded, assume the drinking water in a home is contaminated.

Use only boiled or disinfected well water or purchased bottled water for drinking, brushing teeth, dish washing, preparing food and making ice. The state Department of Health recommends for well users to boil well water for one minute at a rolling boil and then cooling the water before drinking.

Residents should also keep emergency supplies of drinking water on hand — a gallon of water per person, per day. State health officials recommend numerous other emergency supplies.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a major concern during power outages. The poisonous gas cannot be seen or smelled, but can kill a person in minutes. Every home should install a carbon monoxide detector to warn families about unsafe carbon monoxide levels. Department of Health leaders offer tips to reduce carbon monoxide health risks.

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