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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: December 13, 2013


DOVER (Dec. 12, 2013) - Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) recommends that people plan ahead to prevent cold weather-related health problems in the coming weeks. Exposure to cold temperatures can cause serious or life-threatening health problems.

Hypothermia can occur in cold weather, and if a person becomes chilled by rain. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk, but anyone can be affected. Cold weather can put extra strain on the heart, so individuals with heart disease or high blood pressure should follow their doctors' advice about exerting themselves in the cold.

Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. 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 among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.

The City of Wilmington provides a valuable warning by issuing a Code Purple alert when the wind chill factor or predicted temperature is 15 degrees or colder.


At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin-frostbite may be beginning. Any of the following signs may indicate frostbite:

A victim is often unaware of frostbite until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb. If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care.

"People traveling or participating in outdoor activities during the holidays should be aware of their personal health limitations and be prepared," said Dr. Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH director.


When heading out in cold weather, consider the following:

For more information on cold weather and avoiding hypothermia and frostbite, visit:

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.