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As the temperatures drop, bringing cold nights and cool days, fall also ushers in health risks, especially for senior adults. The McDonald County Health Department urges residents to protect family and friends with a few simple steps this fall.

Boost the immune system. As people spend more time indoors and in crowded places like shopping centers and holiday events, germs that cause colds and flu are more easily spread.

Everyone over 6 months old should get a flu shot each year to protect against seasonal flu. Seniors over 65 should also get a shot to protect against pneumonia.

Everyone should also wash their hands frequently with soap and water and keep a distance of at least 6 feet from people who are sick.

Protect the heart. Cold weather constricts or tightens up blood vessels, which can increase the risk of heart attack.

To keep your blood vessels relaxed, dress warmly when you go outside. Wear a hat, gloves and a warm coat. If you rake leaves, pace yourself and take frequent breaks so you don't stress your heart.

Stay warm. Even though temperatures aren't below freezing yet, staying out too long in the weather can cause the body's temperature to drop too low, leading to hypothermia. Senior adults and young babies are at highest risk.

To protect against hypothermia, dress in several layers of warm clothing and add or remove layers as needed. Protect your family and neighbors by watching for signs of hypothermia.

Hypothermia affects the brain, making it hard for a person to think clearly or move well. They may not even realize they are in danger. Adults may experience shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech or drowsiness. Infants may have little energy or get bright red, cold skin.

Hypothermia is a medical emergency so, if you suspect someone is in danger, call 9-1-1 immediately and move the person to a warm place.

A few simple precautions can help ensure everyone enjoys fall's cooler weather and fun traditions.

Public health -- working every day for healthier families, healthier communities, healthier you! Learn more by calling 417-223-7122 or by visiting

Community on 11/09/2017

Print Headline: Fall Weather Ushers In Health Risks

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