With the winter months’ arrival, summer’s threats dissipate. You no longer have to worry about sunburn or mosquitos carrying nasty diseases. However, the cold season comes with a fresh set of hazards.
What can you do to safeguard yourself and your loved ones? Here are six health and safety tips for cooler weather months to keep you cozy and protected until spring.
1. Keep It Clear
Shoveling snow isn’t a sport for the faint of heart. It works nearly every muscle in your body and sends over 11,000 people to the hospital each year. Before you pick up your shovel in these cooler weather months, ensure you dress in layers and warm up like you would for any other workout. Understand your limits and take frequent breaks — most people who don’t return from medical facilities after snow shoveling injuries die from heart attacks.
However, you may have a legal obligation to keep your sidewalks clear, depending on where you live. Failure to do so can open you up to liability if passersby like children on their way to school slip and fall in front of your home. Fortunately, you have more options now than ever. Advanced chemical ice-melters and snow-melting heating pads ease your shoveling burden if you have mobility issues.
2. Inspect Your Vehicle
Approximately 70% of accidental fatalities occurring during the cooler weather months happen in cars. Getting your vehicle inspected won’t stop someone from plowing into you from behind if they follow too closely on an icy roadway. However, it can prevent malfunctions from turning you into a one-person wrecking crew on the highway.
Your tires matter. If you live in a wintry location like the Upper Midwest or New England, it pays to invest in quality shoes for your ride that grip the roadway in icy conditions. Should you use chains? Some states have laws dictating when you must and must not — check with your local government to be sure.
3. Drink Your OJ
There’s good and bad news about vitamin C. Let’s get the negative out of the way first — drinking orange juice after you get sick won’t help much. However, loading up on this nutrient beforehand can shorten the duration by as much as a day.
However, you’ll need to keep up with your daily intake, as this nutrient is water, not fat, soluble. That means it doesn’t accumulate in your body — you need to continually refresh your stores. Get in the habit of having a glass of orange juice each morning for breakfast. Better yet, add fresh red bell pepper to your meals — a single one has triple the vitamin C of an orange.
4. Make Like A Squirrel
Are you prone to seasonal depression? This health condition is more than the mere blues. It can lead to suicidal ideation in extreme cases. You should always seek help from a competent health care provider if you find yourself experiencing feelings of helplessness or worthlessness. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is free to call at 800-273-8255. You can also get help by texting “start” to 741741.
You can also improve your mood through your dietary choices. Nuts and seeds contain high levels of several minerals crucial for your mental health, like magnesium, selenium and zinc. Some studies suggest that magnesium alone can alleviate depression as effectively as medication in patients with an underlying deficiency.
You can easily add these foods to your diet. Try a sprinkle of pepitas and almonds on your lunchtime salad. Indulge in some mixed nuts as an alternative to salty chips — the potassium in the meat balances out some of the sodium content.
5. Stay Toasty
There’s some truth to your childhood caregiver’s admonition to wear your jacket, lest you catch your death of cold. Although temperature alone doesn’t make you more prone to illness, viruses replicate more readily when the digits drop, exposing you to increased numbers of germs. Blustery outdoor winds dry your nasal passages of mucus, one of your body’s first lines of defense against invaders. Indoor air does this as well, and it also contains the most contaminants since it is limited and recycled, which causes infections to transmit more readily.
Therefore, do your best to stay toasty. It helps to dress in layers, with a base that whisks moisture away from your skin, an absorbent middle layer and a shell that protects you from the worst of the wind, rain and snow. A good indoor air filter can also support sinus health and help prevent viruses from multiplying as rapidly as they typically do indoors.
6. Schedule Rest Time
The winter months bring the holidays — and that means tons of rushing around with preparations and celebrations. Enjoy yourself, but try not to overdo it.
Schedule time to rest. Your body produces proteins called cytokines while you sleep that play a vital role in immune function. You should do everything you can during the cold and flu season to shore up your natural defenses against germs.
Remember, it’s OK to say no to invitations that push you past your limits. Trying to squeeze in too much can also lead to distraction, making you more accident-prone.
Heed These 6 Health And Safety Tips For Cooler Weather Months
Winter is coming, and it brings a whole new set of hazards. Heed a few smart health and safety tips to battle the chill this season!