Wellness Words December 2017

Wellness Words December 2017

HealthLink Littauer’sAlicia DeRuscio-Head


Submitted by Alicia DeRuscio, B.S.

Community Education Assistant

Winter Safety

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.

Home Safety

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:

  1. Make sure your home is insulated to prevent heat loss.
  2. Check heating systems, fire places, and chimneys to ensure they are clean and working correctly.
  3. Have an alternate heat source prepared and fuel available for use in the event that your main source of heat doesn’t work.
  4. Clean gutters and make any necessary roof repairs to protect against snow, sleet, and ice.
  5. For emergency purposes, keep a smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, and extra batteries for each device within your home.

Vehicle Safety

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
  • Batteries
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Water
  • Non-perishable food items
  • Tire pump
  • Bag of sand
  • Radio
  • A change of clothes
  • A blanket or extra coat

Outdoor Safety

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 healthlink@nlh.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.

Wellness Words January 2015

HealthLink Littauer’s


Submitted by Wendy Chirieleison, MS Ed

Community Health Educator

Stay Safe This Winter

Winter weather can definitely be frightful!  There are things you can do to be better prepared for winter weather situations.  Making good choices is one way to stay safe, such as staying indoors when it is extremely cold and windy, or staying outside for just a short time if you must go out. When you do go outside, wearing layers, hats, gloves, scarves, coat, and boots helps prevent frost bite, which is damage to the body from the cold that can affect a person from the skin to the bone.  Cheeks, ears, nose, fingers, chin, and toes are at the greatest risk of frost bite so be sure to cover up all areas of your body when heading outside. Here are some other tips for staying safe this winter:


  • Be sure walkways are cleared, shoveled, salted, and free from ice.  If not, find a different path.
  • Purchase shoe grips and cane grips to help you stay steady on icy or snowy grounds.
  • Re-purpose empty parmesan cheese shakers by filling them with sand or salt.  Take one with you wherever you go and sprinkle the sand or salt whenever you feel you need it.


  • Keep a coffee can or bucket filled with sand or salt in your car.
  • If it is very cold, windy, snowing, or if the roads are icy, stay home.
  • Plan ahead by stocking up on things you need, and running errands on good weather days.
  • Make sure your car is ready for winter.  When you have your oil changed, ask the mechanic to also check the anti-freeze, windshield wipers, and tires, and have them replaced if needed.
  • Be sure to have a blanket, extra hat, gloves, and a sweatshirt in your car for an emergency, along with a shovel, flashlight, snow brush, and even a first-aid kit.


  • Always take your cellphone with you in case of an emergency.  If you don’t have one, consider purchasing a pay-as-you-go phone that requires you to buy inexpensive “minute cards” or “airtime” periodically.
  • When traveling, arrange to check in with someone when you have arrived at your destination.  That person can also call to check on you if they have not heard from you.

At Home:  Outside and Inside  

  • Make sure your walkways are cleared, sanded or salted, and properly lit.
  • If you are shoveling, be mindful of your body.  Shoveling snow can be hard work.  Talk to your doctor to be sure that this is something that you can do safely.  If you are not able to do this on your own, ask a neighbor, friend, local Boy Scout troop, etc. to assist you.
  • Check the batteries on smoke detectors and carbon-monoxide detectors.  Make sure your fire extinguisher is in working condition.  If you do not have one, consider purchasing one that can be used in a variety of fires.
  • Always have a lantern, flashlight, plenty of blankets, non-perishable food, and bottled water on hand in the event of a power outage.  Make arrangements ahead of time to stay with family or friends if there is an extended power outage.
  • Have a list of emergency numbers by the phone for your use as well as a list of your emergency contacts posted somewhere visible, such as the refrigerator.

The winter months can be a beautiful time of year, but winter can also be dangerous if you are not taking the proper precautions to stay safe.  Be sure to check in with family and friends on a regular schedule, make good decisions, bundle up when going out, and have a safe and happy winter!

For more information, visit healthinaging.org or contact HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120.  You can e-mail us at healthlink@nlh.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.