How to Stay Safe and Healthy During Winter - December 30, 2016

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CDC Emergency Partners

                                                            December 30, 2016

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Did You Know?

Painkillers Sometimes Make the Pain Worse: Science Magazine—Why painkillers sometimes make the pain worse

Even a Cigarette a Day Is Bad for Your Health: New York Times—Even a Cigarette a Day Is Bad for Your Health

Heroin Deaths Exceeded Gun Homicides in 2015: PBS NewsHour—Heroin deaths exceeded gun homicides in 2015

 Stay Safe and Healthy in Winter

Cars driving on highway with snow

Be Prepared to Stay Safe and Healthy in Winter

Although winter comes as no surprise, many of us are not ready for its arrival. If you are prepared for the hazards of winter, you will be more likely to stay safe and healthy when temperatures start to fall. Although periods of extreme cold cannot always be predicted far in advance, weather forecasts can sometimes provide you with prior notice. Listen to weather forecasts regularly and check your emergency supplies whenever a period of extreme cold is predicted. Click the image or here for ways to stay safe and healthy this winter.

Backyard of a home covered in snow

Prepare Your Home for Winter

If you plan to use a fireplace or wood stove for emergency heating, have your chimney or flue inspected each year. Be sure to install a smoke detector and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector near the area to be heated. Test them monthly and replace batteries twice a year. All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside.

Click the image or here to see more information on how to prepare your home for winter.

Family of four dressed in winter clothes

Wear Appropriate Outdoor Clothing 

Be sure the outer layer of your clothing is tightly woven and preferably wind resistant. Wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton. Stay dry—wet clothing chills the body rapidly. Do not ignore shivering. It’s an important first sign that the body is losing heat.

Click the image or here for details on appropriate winter clothing.

Healthy Holidays

Woman tangled in holiday lights

12 Ways to Have a Healthy Holiday Season

Brighten the holidays by making your health and safety a priority. Take steps to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy—and ready to enjoy the holidays. Click the image or here to see the 12 tips!

Cold Weather Risks: Hypothermia and Frostbite

Hypothermia, an abnormally low body temperature, is a serious condition that requires emergency medical assistance. It is distinct from frostbite and can happen when your body is exposed to cold temperatures for a prolonged period. Heat is lost faster than it can be produced, eventually using up your body’s stored energy. While hypothermia is more likely at very cold temperatures, it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.

Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. While it is a less serious condition than hypothermia, medical care is still recommended. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body and severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and those who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.

cartoon boy and girl in winter clothing standing in the snow

What To Do if You Detect Hypothermia or Frostbite

Both hypothermia and frostbite result from prolonged exposure to cold weather. Hypothermia is a more serious condition and requires emergency medical assistance, but frostbite can also require medical attention. If you detect symptoms of either condition, seek medical care.

Click the image or here for more information on the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite.

December Days to Remember

World AIDS Day

Woman holding a baby in her arms

December 1, 2016: World AIDS Day

Leadership. Commitment. Impact.

December 1 was World AIDS Day, a day to acknowledge our progress in HIV prevention and treatment around the world and renew our commitment to a future free of HIV. This year's theme, Leadership. Commitment. Impact., called leaders to strengthen their commitment to using evidence-based HIV interventions, prevention tools, and testing efforts to help us stop HIV.

Click the image or here for more information on CDC's global and domestic response to preventing and treating HIV.

Global Security Forum

Dr. Tom Frieden speaking at a podium

December 1: Global Security Forum 2016

Click the image or here to see CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden speak about the Global Health Security Agenda at The Center for Strategic & International Studies Global Security Forum 2016. 

NIVW 2016

cartoon image of person running toward city

2016 National Influenza Vaccination Week

National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) took place December 4–10. The purpose of NIVW is to highlight the importance of flu vaccination through the holiday season and beyond. CDC and its partners choose December for NIVW to remind people that even though the holiday season has begun, it is not too late to get a flu vaccine. As long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness, vaccination should continue throughout the flu season in order to protect as many people as possible against the flu.

cartoon arm flexing arm and punching images of germs

Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine

Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.

Click the image or here for more facts on the seasonal flu vaccine.

Zika Resources

Updated Case Count Maps for the United States: Zika Cases Reported in the United States

MMWR: Zika Virus —10 Public Health Achievements in 2016 and Future Priorities

Press Release: CDC awards nearly $184 million to continue the fight against Zika 

Zika Info On-The-Go: Sign up to receive Zika updates for your travel destination with CDC's new text messaging service. Text PLAN to 855-255-5606 to subscribe.

Microcephaly During Pregnancy

what to know if your doctor suspects microcephaly during pregnancy

How Will I Know How My Baby is Doing During Pregnancy?

It is important to know that ultrasounds can show some, but not all, problems with development during pregnancy. Microcephaly can sometimes be seen on the 18–20 week ultrasound, but is more commonly detected later in the second trimester or early in the third trimester.

Your healthcare provider might order testing to see if you’ve been infected with Zika virus. Microcephaly can be caused by other exposures, such as certain infections or harmful substances like alcohol during pregnancy.

If you are expecting a baby with microcephaly or other health conditions related to Zika infection during pregnancy, you may be worried and unsure of next steps. Before the baby is born, it may be helpful to learn more information about Zika and pregnancy. Talk with your doctors and other specialists, and stay connected with family, friends, and support groups. Building a support system early may help once your baby is born.

Click the image or here for more information and resources on babies with microcephaly.

Zika Topic of the Week

 December 26–30

Image of a January 2017 calendar with prevention images surrounding it

Start the Year Out Right

Click the image or here to see how to make Zika prevention one of your New Year resolutions. 

January 2–6

crossed out mosquito

What’s Your Zika IQ?

How much do you know about Zika? Click the image or here to see CDC's answers to your questions.

Upcoming Zika Topics of the Week:

  • January 9: Why everyone should care about Zika
  • January 16: One-year anniversary of CDC's Zika response




Pregnant women or families who would like to speak to someone about a possible Zika virus infection or diagnosis during pregnancy and potential risks to the baby can contact MotherToBaby, a service of the nonprofit Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS). MotherToBaby is not affiliated with CDC.

MotherToBaby experts are available during business hours to answer questions in English or Spanish by phone or talk about Zika:

Communication Tips: Addressing Stigma

Stigma can affect people, places, or things. It occurs when people associate a risk with something specific—like a minority population group—and there is no evidence that the risk is greater in that group than in the general population. Stigmatization is especially common in disease outbreaks.

Example: A 2002 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in China caused global concern. Unfortunately, fear also led to a great deal of stigma. Although there were no associated cases of SARS in America, many citizens began to avoid Chinatowns and other Asian-American communities—including Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese peoples—throughout the United States because they believed those groups were at greater risk for spreading SARS.

Stigmatized groups may suffer psychologically and economically. They may be subjected to:

  • Social avoidance or rejection
  • Denial of healthcare, education, housing, or employment
  • Physical violence

Stigmatizing minority groups may also distract people from focusing on the real risks in a crisis situation. When only part of a population is perceived as being affected, others may incorrectly believe they are not at risk. By assuming they are safe, majority population groups may not take important public health precautions, unintentionally compromising their own health and well-being.

Crisis communicators must work to counter stigmatization during a disaster. Messages should reinforce real risks through accurate information and awareness. Images should reflect all people who are susceptible to getting sick. Ideally, public health messages will proactively address possible stigma before it begins. However, prepared communicators should be ready to challenge any negative stigmatizing behaviors that do emerge.

For more resources and information on CERC, please see Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication, 2014 Edition or Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Pandemic Influenza, 2007.

Have you used CERC in your work? To share your CERC stories, e-mail Your stories may appear in future CERC Corners.

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