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Arctic cold a relentless threat; so is the flu

Wintertime is known for cold and flu. We’ve had our first bout with relentless cold. Health officials say flu is on the way. Be sure you’re immunized.

Published: Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

The Sauk Valley’s recent bout with Arctic cold taught severe lessons, not merely to motorists and anyone else who dared to venture outside.

We learned of several cases of frozen water pipes that created havoc.

Civic Plaza II, a low-income apartment complex in Rock Falls, had to be evacuated Saturday because a frozen pipe burst in the sprinkler system and flooded the building.

Sixty-three residents temporarily moved to a hotel. They aren’t expected to be allowed to return home until Friday.

At St. Mary’s School in Sterling, an attic pipe to the sprinkler system burst about noon Tuesday, spewing water into the building. The school will be closed the rest of the week for cleanup.

The cold exposed weaknesses elsewhere. Three or four Ogle County snowplows were sidelined when the cold caused mechanical breakdowns.

Motorists found out the hard way that their vehicle batteries were on their last legs. (We suspect this was a good week to be in the automotive battery business.)

And, with home furnaces running at breakneck speed to keep up with the below-zero temperatures and brutal wind chills, we wouldn’t be surprised to hear that repair calls were way up for area repairmen.

As temperatures moderate, so will the threat posed by super-cold air.

But a relentless winter threat of another sort remains: influenza.

The flu virus has shown up in at least half the state, health officials say.

Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck of the state health department reports six deaths and 122 intensive care hospitalizations for the flu.

Now, you can wrap water pipes, replace batteries on schedule, and have furnaces inspected in the fall to help prevent cold-related woes.

And you can get immunized to help prevent the flu.

The flu strain most common this season is H1N1, which seems to hit younger adults and children harder than adults older than 65.

Dr. Hasbrouck said it’s not too late to get a flu shot.

To prevent a relentless wintertime health threat, the public should follow the doctor’s orders.

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