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October 17th, 2012

This Week in Orange County 10-17-12

Orange County Executive Edward Diana

As the leaves start to change and the temperatures drop, it’s time to start thinking about preparing for winter’s arrival, about two months away. Other than last fall’s very unseasonable Halloween blizzard, we were fortunate to enjoy a relatively mild season here in the Hudson Valley last winter. According to predictions, we may not fare as well this winter. In fact, the experts at AccuWeather say we may be in store for particularly frigid temperatures over the next three winters.

With these weather predictions in mind, now, before the snow starts to fly, is the best time to start preparing for the arrival of Old Man Winter. With the high cost of fuel and energy, one of the first things to do is ensure that your home is winterized properly. Consider having a professional inspect your furnace to make sure it’s running at peak performance and while you’re at it, make sure your home is insulated effectively. It makes no sense to run the furnace if all the hot air is leaking out of the house. Start at the top – up to 25% of your home’s heat is typically lost through the attic. The thicker the insulation, the less heat you lose. Insulate your hot water tank and pipes to keep your water hot for longer and prevent your pipes from freezing in cold weather. Check your windows and doors for leaks and drafts – seal them up with caulk or plastic sheeting to keep the cold air out and the warmth in.

Other energy, and money, saving tips to consider as you prepare for this winter:

• Invest in a programmable thermostat. Set it lower for when you’re not home. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, a properly programmed thermostat can save you as much as $180/year – well worth your investment.

• Hang curtains or blinds to keep heat from escaping out through your windows.

• Keep a sweater handy and dress in layers. Adding or taking off a sweater is just as easy as pumping up the heat – and more cost-effective.

While you’re readying your home for winter, don’t forget to prepare yourself, and your family, as well. One of the easiest ways is to make sure everyone has their flu shot. Orange County Commissioner of Health, Dr. Jean Hudson, reminds us that seasonal influenza is a serious illness that can lead to more serious health problems, including pneumonia, bacterial infections, hospitalization, and even death. It’s especially serious for children, senior citizens, and those who are already struggling with illness.

Flu shots are available from your physician, community health center, and many shops and pharmacies throughout the County. The County Health Department is also scheduling flu shot clinics for residents 19 years of age or older for just $20.

In addition to getting vaccinated, you can do your part to stop the spread of flu, by covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough, practicing good hand-washing techniques, and staying home when you’re sick.

For more information about receiving your flu shot at a County Health Department Office, contact 291-4300.

Until next week, I wish you good health and happiness.

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