Story by Wendy Frankenburger MPH, CHES Health Educator for Payne County Health Department
Winter weather brings cold temperatures, harsh winds, ice, and snow. The best way to survive is to be prepared. Stay healthy and safe by applying the following advice.
Don’t get caught out with a cold.
You can increase your odds of not getting sick by getting a flu shot and frequently washing your hands. Try carrying your own pens to write with as well as hand sanitizer wipes to wipe items down with or gel for your hands when you can’t wash them. It’s important to take a daily multivitamin and continue to exercise in the winter. This helps avoid weight gain, strengthen your immune system, and beat the winter blues.
Remember to take care of yourself inside and out.
Cold weather often leads to dry skin and lack of humidity. Combat this by drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. Use lotion morning and night to keep the skin moisturized. Invest in a humidifier to control static and keep your nasal passages from drying out. Wear the appropriate clothing such as a waterproof coat when going outside. Layer on your clothes, and don’t forget the mittens, scarf, and hat.
Prepare your home.
It is best to have a plan in case the power goes out. Keep an emergency kit ready with enough supplies for three to five days. Have your furnace and chimney inspected each year and replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detector. If you don’t have one get one! Allow warm air to circulate around the pipes in the home, keep the garage door closed and keep the thermostat set to the same temperature day and night to avoid pipes freezing. Insulate your home inside and out to avoid drafts.
Don’t forget about your vehicle.
Service and winterize your vehicle. Check your battery, fluids, wipers, and tires. Keep your gas tank filled and never pour hot water on the windshield. Check to make sure there is not a buildup of snow around the exhaust pipe and never warm your car up in a closed garage to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Your car should contain an emergency kit and extra blankets. If you become stranded do not leave your vehicle, instead tie a brightly colored item around the antennae and wait for help.
So much to think about.
If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them. Bring your pets indoors so they don’t get hypothermia. Make sure they are microchipped and have a tag so they can be reunited with you faster should they get lost. Check on elderly friends and neighbors. Keep your cell phone charged and have a non-electric powered battery charger on hand in case of power outage. Most importantly, pay attention to the weather forecasts so you don’t get caught off guard.
The cold weather can be dangerous.
If you show signs of hypothermia or frostbite, seek medical attention immediately. To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, don’t use gas furnaces, generators, or stoves incorrectly. Seek outside fresh air and medical attention if exposed to gas or fumes. Steer clear of accidents, such as falling on the ice and vehicle collisions, by staying inside and off the streets in bad weather.
Winter only lasts three months, but can wreak havoc while here. Enjoy it by being prepared and staying dry, safe and healthy.
Recommended items in an emergency kit:
Car: De-icer, ice scraper, flash light and batteries, jumper cables, snow shovel, blankets, water and food, flares, extra clothes and shoes, a bag of salt or sand, first aid kit
Home: Food, water, personal care items, change of clothing, children’s activities, medical supplies and medications, copies of important documents, flash light and batteries, spare set of keys, blankets, extra cash, emergency contact information, family member information such as names, ages and medical information on a card.
Pets; Food and water, transports supplies, blankets and towels, bed and toys, current photos and description in case of separation, as well as an information card containing things someone should know about your pet such as routine, behavior, veterinarian, and medical conditions.
Have everything in a waterproof container and ready to go. If you need a smoke detector contact the local fire department.