Tue, Feb 06, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Taipei activates task force to help people in the cold

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Taipei Department of Health yesterday said it has set up a winter protection emergency response task force as temperatures continue to fall across the nation, while the Taipei City Hospital urged people to be aware of emotional changes caused by the weather.

The department said that it established the task force on Saturday and that its personnel are working in shifts responding to calls at Taipei City Hall (02-2722-6497) between 10am and 10pm.

People can also call a 24-hour hotline (1999) to report emergencies, it said.

The city’s special care services for homeless and disadvantaged people were activated on Monday last week, and the temporary shelters are to be kept open as long as temperatures remain below 12°C, Taipei Department of Social Welfare Commissioner Hsu Li-min (許立民) said.

Meanwhile, the Taipei City Hospital said that the human body consumes more energy to keep warm when the weather is cold, causing the immune system to become less effective in fighting germs and viruses.

As a result, people are more likely to fall ill and being ill can make people feel depressed or disturbed, it said.

Moreover, social interactions might be reduced on rainy days as people are less willing to go out, but social interaction is an effective method to prevent depression, so prolonged cold and rainy weather might make people feel anxious, frustrated or upset, it added.

The lack of sunlight during winter has the greatest effect on people’s emotions, as exposure to sunlight triggers the production of serotonin, also known as the feel-good hormone, while its absence causes the body to secrete melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep, the hospital said.

It urged people to keep warm and try to motivate themselves to go outdoors and engage in social activities even on rainy days, while trying to get as much sunlight as possible during the winter to avoid seasonal affective disorder, also known as winter depression.

In related news, the Central Weather Bureau has forecast low temperatures nationwide for yesterday and today, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said, adding that it on Jan. 25 informed local governments to be prepared to activate special services to help homeless and disadvantaged people when the temperature drops below 10°C.

As of yesterday, local governments nationwide have distributed 16,950 hot meals and 9,384 items of warm clothing or other winter necessities, and provided shelter to 1,584 people, the ministry said.

Local governments have also increased their visits to elderly people living alone to check on them and remind them to keep warm, the ministry added.

People with hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia and hypertension have increased risk of sustaining a heart attack or stroke in cold weather, so they should especially keep warm, it said.

The ministry also urged people to call local social welfare departments or its social welfare consultation hotline (1957) if they see people who need help.

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