8 tips for winter health and safety

winter health and safety tipsAre you and your family prepared for winter? As I watch the weather reports showing another snowstorm crossing the country, it makes me think about what we can do to be safe and healthy this winter season.

Winter brings ice, snow and cold temperatures. It can also mean “snow days” with kids home from school and parents working from home.

Here are 8 health and safety tips to help you weather any ice or snowstorms this winter may bring your way:

Prepare for ice
Ice can snap electrical lines and cut off power for a few hours or even a few days. Make sure you have flashlights and batteries or a camping lantern that runs on batteries. It’s also good to have an emergency radio so you can listen to weather updates. If you live in an area with frequent storms, it can be worth investing in a generator so you can at least get enough power to have heat and a few lights.

You may want to have foods on hand you can eat without the need for cooking. Store salt or sand for icy and treacherous sidewalks.

Stock up on provisions
During the winter months, it’s a good idea to stock up on staples so that you have them available if you should be stuck at home for several days. Make sure you have long-lasting items like cereal, pasta, crackers, peanut butter, bread (you can keep it in the freezer), tuna, canned soup, nuts or trail mix. You should also keep your medicine filled for at least five days ahead, in case you are unable to get out for a few days.

Dig the board games out of the closet to entertain the kids and create some family fun. You can also do some baking together or come up with arts and crafts projects to do as a family. I still remember some of the snow days we spent at home when I was young.

Keep warm
Kids (and some adults) can be so excited by the prospect of playing in the snow, they don’t take the proper precautions. It’s important to layer. Multiple layers are better for preventing hypothermia than one big snowsuit. Cover everything the best you can – especially your head, hands and feet. Much of your body heat escapes from your head. Your hands and feet get cold quickly because they receive less blood flow than the main part of your body.

When kids start shivering, it’s time to go in and warm up. Hot chocolate is a great way to get them inside. If the skin turns pale, a light gray color or becomes numb or blistered-looking, you may have superficial frostbite. It’s time to get inside. You can apply something warm (but not hot) like a heating pad or warm water to the affected area. If the numbness persists, you may need to get medical attention.

Play it safe
Winter sports – such as ice hockey, skiing, snowboarding and even sledding – can be dangerous. The two most common winter sports’ injuries are bruised, broken or sprained limbs and head injuries. It’s important to have the proper equipment, and even head gear. Make sure the equipment is the right size and skill level for your child. Also, know you and your child’s limitations. Adults can also be injured when they forget their age or skill level.

Drive carefully
Winter months bring snow, ice and more driving during dark conditions. You should take steps to be prepared for winter driving. Many people think you can drive the speed limit in any conditions. You should slow down if the road is at all hazardous. Increase the distance between you and the car in front of you. You have more room if you or the other car should lose control.

Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Make sure your car is clear of ice and snow before you drive, including the roof. Snow can fall on the front or back window while you’re driving. Also check that your headlights and taillights are visible.

Winter workouts
Fit in your exercise routine even during the winter months. You may need to find creative ways to workout at home if you are snowed in for a few days. Bundling up and going for a walk is great exercise, especially when walking through snow. You can shovel the driveway or sled down a hill with the kids. Again, be sure to know your limitations. It can be easy to push yourself too much in cold weather.

Boost your skin care
Winter weather can wreak havoc on your skin. You may need to find a winter moisturizer that’s oil-based to help create a protective layer and keep moisture in your skin. If your house gets dry in the winter, you can use a humidifier to put moisture back into the air and prevent your skin from drying out. You may want to ban burning hot baths and showers – they can take the moisture out of your skin.

If you find yourself getting stressed by the bad weather, change of routine and a little too much “togetherness,” take a few minutes each day to meditate. The simple act of banishing thoughts, focusing on your breathing and repeating a single word or phrase can start up your body’s natural relaxation response. Reducing your stress levels is good for the mind, body and soul!

With a little preparation, you can be ready for anything the winter months bring your way. Be safe and healthy this winter!


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