Winter can be a great time for outdoor activities such as ice-skating and skiing. It's also a common time for us all to get excited about holiday decorating -- both indoors and out! But without some key precautions, some of these seemingly routine winter activities might lead to injuries and exacerbate many health conditions. Try the following tips to avoid common holiday safety and health issues.
Icy Cold Temperatures
When going outside, dress in plenty of warm layers to avoid potential issues such as hypothermia and frostbite. Keep this in mind not only when having all that fun outside, but also when shoveling driveways and sidewalks. Take breaks frequently, and remember to warm up indoors or in the car if you'll be outdoors working for any prolonged periods of time. Both frostbite and hypothermia can be life-threatening conditions. To help protect yourself, make sure to:
- Use winter boots that fit properly;
- Wear a hat to protect your ears;
- Dress in layers (bonus: it's fashionable!);
- Protect hands and feet by adding another pair of socks and wearing mittens;
- Drink plenty of fluids; and
- Remove any wet clothing promptly.
Snow and ice can increase the chances that someone may slip and fall -- especially when snow has covered up the ice, or when visibility is low. Ice is pretty good at hiding from us, and those of any age can suffer injuries. Be sure to shovel soon after a snowfall, before it has a chance to turn to ice; wear properly fitted boots; and salt all steps and walkways to reduce the likelihood of ice forming at all.
The Holidays Meet Cold and Flu Season: Food, Germs, and Sleep
The stress of the holidays and gatherings can make it easy to fall sick. Rich foods and sugar-laden sweets may cause discomfort and reduce the body’s ability to fight off the first signs of a cold (and a few ingredient substitutions might help keep the waistline in check, too). In order to get through the season in top shape, consider:
- Eating yogurt with a low sugar content regularly to help with constipation and add beneficial bacteria to the gut microflora;
- Sharing a dessert with a friend or loved one, and eating other rich or sweet foods in moderation (this can be tough through the holidays, but start with half of what you might think you need, and it may be just right!);
- Making sleep a priority;
- Staying hydrated;
- Washing hands regularly and before eating; and
- Minimizing physical contact with those who appear sick.
It may be the holidays, but if your cousin or bestie has a cold, get together after it has run its course!
These simple tips can help you get through the season without compromising your health. Don’t discount your need to exercise regularly -- think laps around the block while you catch up with great friends -- and eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables (use them as pre-party snacks). Get your daily Vitamin D needs met through getting some sunshine; eating salmon, tuna, mushrooms, or egg yolks; or consuming other foods fortified with Vitamin D. Your immune system needs all the support it can get to keep you healthy this winter season!
Holiday Decorating: Danger Zone?
Did you know that thousands of people every year end up in the ER due to injuries from a fall occurring while decorating? Take care with your ambitious decorating plans, as fractures are among the most common of the injuries sustained. How can you avoid falls?
- Use a step stool for placing ornaments or grabbing items out of reach (that swivel chair that we think looks stable "just for a moment" won't do);
- Watch for potential tripping hazards such as tree skirts, or an abundance of nutcrackers;
- Ensure that ladders are placed on level and secure ground prior to climbing;
- Please do not stand on the top two rungs of a ladder; and
- Avoid overreaching to one side while on a ladder (just move the ladder!).
If injury or illness occurs despite your best precautions, urgent care is available with extended hours through the holidays. Check CareSpot.com for holiday hours in your area.