Presidential Inauguration Health Tips For Travelers

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The Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Public Health encourages residents who may be traveling to Washington, D.C., for the 56th presidential inauguration to plan ahead to help prevent health-related problems.

Federal, state and local governments, along with the American Red Cross and hospitals in the Washington, D.C. area, have a plan to meet the health and medical needs of the many visitors and residents. But there are steps attendees can take to prevent weather-related health problems.

"Visitors are likely to be away from their hotels and accommodations for many hours and should carry with them any necessary medications and medical records," advised Dr. Sandra E. Ford, acting director of the Georgia Division of Public Health. "Exposure to cold weather is a concern for visitors and they need to be prepared to handle D.C.’s frigid temperatures."

During January, the average temperature in Washington, D.C. is 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Exposure to cold temperatures can cause serious or life-threatening health problems such as hypothermia and frostbite, particularly with infants and the elderly. Cold weather can also put a strain on the heart, so attendees with heart disease or high blood pressure should follow their doctor’s advice about exerting themselves in the cold.

"To prevent cold-related health problems, dress in layers of loose-fitting clothes, including socks, which can be removed as they become damp," recommends Dr. Ford. "Eating well-balanced meals will also help individuals stay warmer. Warm, sweet beverages or broth can help maintain body temperature. On the other hand, alcoholic or caffeinated beverages can cause the body to lose heat more rapidly."

Additional tips individuals should follow when braving colder temperatures include:

* Wear hats, scarves or wool caps to cover the face and mouth. Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves, to keep hands warm.

* Wear comfortable shoes and multiple layers of socks.

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* Wear waterproof outerwear to reduce hypothermia (abnormally low body temperature) that can occur if a person becomes chilled by rain.

* Stay hydrated by consuming beverages (preferably water).

* Wash hands frequently with soap and water , or use antibacterial products.

* Medical services will also be available for the inaugural events. These services include:

* Approximately 50 medical aid stations to assist individuals and support medical response

* Eight first aid stations on the National Mall

* Sixteenfirst aid stations on the National Mall between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial, and additional stations in the capitol area

* Additional ambulances to move patients in response to any medical emergencies

The Smithsonian Institution museum buildings on the National Mall will be open for people to use as warming stations. Additional federal buildings will be open along the parade route so attendees can warm up.

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