Doctor provides tips on how to stay warm, warns about risks of hard freeze

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - As the hard freeze settles in, experts warn of the risks to those left out in the cold.

Dr. Brobson Lutz said those living on the Southshore may not be as prepared for these frigid temps.

"I have one, two, three, four layers and two pairs of socks and glove and hats and all that good stuff," said Raquel Tejedea said as she headed to her car from work.

Lutz said layering up is something is he takes seriously.

"I've got one, two, three layers here, I've got another old sweater here, I've got a hat here. I don't have my mittens, but mittens are great, especially if you're going to be outside," Lutz said.

The doctor said staying active is also key to staying warm.

"You want to move around. I think moving around helps people a lot. Moving around, expending energy is good," Lutz said.

Keeping your home warm is also essential. There's an easy fix to block the cold air from getting in.

"During this time of year, a collection of towels or sheets or rugs or something to block out the cracks can make all the difference in the world," Lutz said.

Lutz said the homeless and elderly are most at risk.

"Hypothermia can occur with temperatures of 40 degrees or less if you're wet. If we avoid any rain or precipitation, we're less likely to have at least exposed people develop hypothermia," Lutz said.

He said a symptom of hypothermia is confusion.

"As your body's cold and is not producing the heat to cope with it, you lose the ability to reason and think like you should," Lutz said.

Another health risk that may not be as obvious but can be deadly during cold weather is carbon monoxide poisoning.

"People will bring in  open fires or a grill or hook up something that's not properly ventilated, and the carbon monoxide level goes up and there's always deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning during cold periods," Lutz said.

As the winds started picking up in downtown New Orleans, people tried their best to stay warm.

"Two pairs of socks, some tights under these pants, couple t-shirts, hood, beanie, positive thoughts," Django Szilagi said.

They are bracing for the worst of it Tuesday night.

"I just got over the flu and like my husband, we're always cold, always. I think it's going to get worse tonight, so not looking forward to it," Tejedea said.