Furnaces, Hospital Staff Work Overtime as Cold Weather Moves In

By: Madeline Anderson Email
By: Madeline Anderson Email

With temperatures expected to drop below zero Sunday night into Monday, hospital staff will most likely be working overtime.

"We'll see a lot of injuries to the extremities, the fingers, the toes, the ears, the nose," said Dr. Winston Ryan.

In the emergency room at Aspirus Wausau Hospital, doctors expect to treat at least 20 cold weather-related health concerns, like frost bite, hypothermia and pneumonia, over the the next 24 hours.

"A lot of the elderly people we'll see," Dr. Ryan said. "They'll have problems with low body temperatures and they'll start getting confused. So this time of year, this is the time of year you want to check on your mother, your grandmother that lives alone, because they always want to keep the temperature low to save money."

It's also a good time to make sure the temperature in the home isn't low because of something that's wrong with the heat. Furnaces will also be working overtime, and that means there's a greater possibility for them to break.

"If the furnace is kicking on 10-12 times in an afternoon, versus 5 or 6 times in an afternoon, it's just getting more of a workout," Adam Malzahn said. Malzahn installs and repairs furnaces in the Wausau area. This weekend's bitter arctic blast has kept him busier than usual.

"We're getting a lot of calls with pilot lights being blown out, whether it's a gust of wind, or a pilot light just going out because the furnace is turning on and off more often," he said.

Malzahn also advises, check the air filter and make sure it's clean: "It sounds simple but a lot of people do forget that. And you wouldn't think just a dirty air filter could cause problems for your furnace but it actually can."

He says if you do have to go a night or two with a broken unit, turn on a space heater or get some use out of the fireplace. As long as the furnace fan is still working, homeowners can use it to circulate that warm air throughout the house.

"Just like you would maintenance your car, your furnace is the most important appliance in your house," Malzahn said. "It keeps you and your family warm. So it makes a lot of sense to get your furnace tuned up, if not every year, every other year."

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