Submitted by Alicia DeRuscio, B.S.
Community Education Assistant
The winter months are upon us, bringing storms and cold temperatures that can be hazardous for all. It’s important that we prepare our homes, our vehicles, and ourselves to brace the cold and remain healthy and safe this winter.
While some people enjoy the chillier weather, many of us choose to remain inside during the winter months. In order to keep our homes safe, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends properly winterizing our homes prior to the cold weather:
- Make sure your home is insulated to prevent heat loss.
- Check heating systems, fire places, and chimneys to ensure they are clean and working correctly.
- Have an alternate heat source prepared and fuel available for use in the event that your main source of heat doesn’t work.
- Clean gutters and make any necessary roof repairs to protect against snow, sleet, and ice.
- For emergency purposes, keep a smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, and extra batteries for each device within your home.
Preparing our vehicles is another important step to remain safe throughout the winter. Weather conditions can often affect travel, so if you are planning to drive, be aware of the current travel conditions on the roads as well as future weather forecasts. Slow down when driving and keep a few car lengths between yourself and other drivers to help prevent accidents.
According to the CDC, you should service the radiator on your vehicle, monitor antifreeze levels, and check the tread on your tires prior to winter weather. Make it a habit to keep a full tank of gas and avoid letting your gas levels fall too low. If help is needed, take your vehicle to a local mechanic to assist with this process.
In case of an emergency, prepare an emergency winter travel kit to keep in your vehicle. Include items such as:
- Cell phone
- Cell phone charger
- First aid kit
- Non-perishable food items
- Tire pump
- Bag of sand
- A change of clothes
- A blanket or extra coat
The winter months can be a fun and exciting time to enjoy the outdoors, as well. It can also be a time for outdoor work, shoveling and snow removal. If you are planning to go outside, dress appropriately for the weather in warm, dry clothing.
The CDC recommends wearing hats, scarves, and mittens to cover the body as much as possible, as well as water resistant coats, pants, and boots. Three layers of clothing should be worn to protect against the cold, including an inner layer to hold body heat, an insulation layer to help retain body heat, and an outer layer to fight the wind, rain, and snow. If you start to sweat, remove layers as needed; sweating can increase the amount of heat lost from the body.
If you are performing outdoor chores, avoid overexerting yourself by working slowly. Be sure to pay attention to your body – if you need a rest, are cold or start to shiver, take a break or go inside and warm up.
The winter season come once a year, every year. With a little bit of planning and preparation, you can be ready to conquer whatever Mother Nature brings your way this winter!
If you would like to learn more about winter safety, visit cdc.gov or call HealthLink Littauer at 518-736-1120. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, see our website at nlh.org, or visit our new wellness center at 2 Colonial Court in downtown Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.