You don’t have to be a senior citizen to succumb to the known hazards of winter weather. Help protect yourself and the most vulnerable among us against cold-related injury and illness with the tips below.
Dress in Layers
You want clothes that can keep you warm during periods of inactivity. Chances are you’ll create plenty of heat during that backcountry trek, but it’s tougher to maintain a comfortable temperature when you stop moving.
So layer up. Start with polyester thermal underwear for the base layer. Choose breathable fleece to inhibit the accumulation of perspiration during exertion. If you prefer natural fibers, choose merino wool and wool-fleece blends that offer the warmth of wool without the itchiness. Pack a scarf or neck gaiter that you can take off and on easily to regulate body temperature, and take a lightweight jacket that is both waterproof and breathable.
Layering can also keep your head and feet warm. Fleece or wool stocking caps can be made windproof when covered with a detachable hood. Leave your cotton socks at home. Instead, choose wool (merino wool won’t be itchy) or wicking polyester socks designed for hiking. Boots don’t have to be expensive, but they should be waterproof or water-repellent, especially if you plan on hiking through snow.
Protect the Extremities
Hats that cover the ears (or earmuffs) are vital because the head has little insulation against the cold. Scarves keep the neck and chest warm and can be used to protect the face against wind. Mittens keep hands warmer than gloves, especially if they are fur-lined or heated with rechargeable batteries.
For cold feet, there are lined waterproof boots rated by temperature, as well as battery-heated socks and insoles. Ugg boots are very toasty but not waterproof, and some find them too warm to wear indoors. Slip-resistant soles or cleats can help keep you upright on icy pavement.
Safeguard Your Health
You may not feel thirsty in cold weather, but staying hydrated is just as important in winter as it is in summer. Drink water (warm or cold), hot tea, or hot chocolate—the latter also provides high-calorie fuel for your outdoor adventure.
Snow shoveling is accountable for countless injuries and as much as 100 deaths each year, and not simply amongst those of us past our prime. Anyone who is sporadically physically active and in great physical condition ought to hire somebody else to do the job. And do not assume that utilizing a snow blower is safer. It’s a heavy device and pushing it can overtax the heart, specifically in the cold.
The National Safety Council offers these tips for more secure shoveling: Talk to your physician if you have a history of heart problem; do not shovel after consuming or while smoking cigarettes; stretch initially and start slowly; wherever possible, push instead of lift the snow; if you should raise, don’t overload the shovel and utilize your legs, not your back to raise it; avoid working to the point of exhaustion; and stop immediately if you feel dizzy or establish tightness in your chest.
Prepare Your House
Reduce drafts and lower heating expenses by insulating the roofing system, walls, window sashes and doorframes. Keep your thermostat set at a comfortable temperature throughout the day – in between 68 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit (72 degrees usually), depending on the age and health of the occupants. Keep in mind that children and older grownups are typically easily chilled.
However, you can conserve a great deal of money if you lower the thermostat and wear warmer clothing inside. Exercise also creates body heat, so sit less and move more if possible. Lower the thermostat during the night to about 60 degrees, and wear pajamas and quilts to keep warm while asleep. Many people switch to flannel sheets as quickly as the outdoors temperature level at night drops below 50.
Fire is a significant winter season threat, frequently avoidable. However, no home needs to be without a working smoke and carbon monoxide gas detector (often available in combination). Never ever use the range or oven for heat. Instead, invest in a well-designed portable space heating unit and utilize it securely, safeguarded from young kids and animals. According to the National Fire Defense Association, 40 percent of house heating fires and 84 percent of resulting deaths include fixed or portable area heating systems. Choose just those that turned off instantly if tipped over and utilize them only on nonflammable, hard, level surface areas. Turn off all area heating units prior to going to bed. Electric heaters are the only kind safe to use unvented inside your home. If you use a fireplace, always protect it with a well-fitted screen to avoid sparks and embers from leaving.
If possible, prevent using extension cords, a frequent cause of home fires. However if you must, make certain cables are modern-day, are not torn and are ranked for the designated device. Never utilize one to power a heater or for more than one gadget. A much safer alternative: Have additional wall outlets set up.
Ensure your car is prepared for winter conditions, with a good battery, tires with good treads that are appropriately inflated, antifreeze in the radiator, working windshield wipers and a lot of no-freeze window washer fluid.
We all consider automotive items as essential, specifically when driving in separated locations or far from house: A totally charged cellular phone, preferably with stored emergency situation numbers; a working flashlight; snow brush, ice scraper and small shovel; flares; several blankets; drinking water and treats or sandwiches.
Practice driving on snow and ice in a safe area. Teach yourself to guide into a skid. Ensure you are well rested before getting on the roadway, and strategy to stop in a rest area if you feel sleepy. On long journeys, stop, leave the car, and walk at least when every three hours.
Don’t leave the vehicle idling with windows closed or while you doze. Needless to say, never ever consume alcohol prior to driving, but you may consider having a cup of caffeinated coffee or tea.
Constantly drive at speeds and distances from other cars appropriate for road conditions. It takes longer to stop on ice, snow and water-covered ice. Needing to brake hard on a slippery roadway is an invitation to catastrophe.