Fall and Winter Safety Tips
Fall and Winter Safety Tips to Power Through the Cold
Winter: the most dreaded season of all. Between the lack of daylight, gray skies, layers of sweaters, flu season, and snow shoveling, we’re often left praying for spring by the time January rolls around. But once September ends and you find yourself donning heavier clothing, it’s time to think about winter safety: preparing your home, protecting yourself from viruses, and keeping your physical and mental health in check. Here are some fall safety tips and winter safety tips so you can weather the weather.
Fall Safety Tips
While it often feels like flu season is an inevitability, there are some steps you can take to lessen its impact on you and your surroundings.
- Be Aware of High-Risk Areas for Sickness and Prepare
One of the easiest things you can do to avoid getting sick is to stay away from places where you are likely to come into contact with viruses. Unsurprisingly, this means avoiding high density and crowded places where people are close to each in enclosed spaces:
- Daycare facilities
- Other recreational events
We also understand that you can’t avoid these places altogether – they keep us connected to our friends, family, and communities. However, you can limit exposure to bad bugs during flu outbreaks by eating well, sleeping well, washing your hands often and taking time to destress and strengthen your immune system.
- Stop Spreading the Flu
The most difficult part about the flu is that you can be contagious and asymptomatic, meaning you will not exhibit signs of illness until it’s too late. Foods like Emergen-C, apples, tea, and orange juice can help lessen the severity of sickness. The sooner you can start boosting your immune system, the sooner you will recover if you do get sick. Even if you have been sick once, you can still get sick again. Viruses mutate, which allow them to reinfect you after you’ve built up an immunity to one strain.
- Be Sure Your Home is Ready for the Cold
While avoiding sickness is a big part of flu prevention, so too is prepping your living space.
- Clean your furnace. Before you turn on your furnace for the first time of year, make sure it’s in tip top shape. Have it cleaned by a professional, if possible. This helps prevent heat failures, deadly carbon monoxide leaks, and other serious, even fatal, situations. For more information on yearly maintenance, check out this article from This Old House.
- Change batteries while changing clocks. Various heating methods, including gas heaters, fireplaces, and lanterns, can all lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Change the batteries in your smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and replace expired fire extinguishers at the same time as when you turn back your clocks for Daylight Saving Time. Make an afternoon out of it!
- Be careful with fireplaces. Whether you have a wood burning or gas fireplace, yearly maintenance is key to keeping these fixtures safe. Neglecting to clean fireplaces and chimneys can lead to a buildup of creosote (a very flammable, oily tar) which presents major fire hazards. Be sure your hearth is equipped with a fire screen and (if necessary) a non-flammable rug.
- Winterize. Be sure to install weather stripping, storm windows and insulation wherever needed. Clean out your gutters and fix any roof leaks before it becomes too cold. Once temperatures significantly drop during winter, be sure to run your faucets continuously to keep pipes from freezing.
Winter Safety Tips to Stay Healthy
- Avoid “Snowfalls” of Another Kind
No matter when or how they happen, slips and falls are major health threats in winter time. Make sure you have sturdy boots with good grip and remember to “walk like a penguin” with shorter strides. Indoor tumbles are also common in the winter. Avoid slippery floors by investing in a good all-weather floor mat or boot tray to keep entrances clear of condensation from ice and snow.
- Dress for the Weather
This is especially important for senior citizens. Because of lower metabolic rates, poor circulation and other natural health factors, seniors are particularly susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. According to the CDC, people over the age of 65 make up more than half of hypothermia-related deaths. Layering is critical when dressing for cold temps. This can be especially complicated for seniors with memory-related impairments.
- Weather the Storm
Even though we often associate power outages with summer thunderstorms, icy power lines and other severe weather conditions cause interruptions in service as well. Ensure your living space is stocked with everything you need to make it through several days without power. Flashlights, a battery-powered radio, warm blankets, non-perishable food, and bottled water are all cold weather essentials. For a list of suggested items, check out this winter survival checklist. Also consider keeping an extra charged cell phone battery or auto-charger on hand.
- Beat the Blues
While talk of flu shots and remaining physically healthy during the cold season is a concern, mental health is equally important and often overlooked. Winter weather can lead to increased feelings of isolation, which can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). A support system of family members, friends, and neighbors can help insulate you from the winter blues. There are plenty of ways to stay active and engaged, even if the cold keeps you indoors:
- Take a class online
- Connect with family on social media
- Have an in-home spa day
- Play an instrument
- Visit with friends and neighbors
- Curl up with a good book
Not every winter has to be a God-awful misery. Follow these winter safety tips to winterize your home and stay as healthy, you can kick back, relax and enjoy the peace and beauty of snowfall. Until, that is, it’s time to consider spring safety.
Aftermath Services is dedicated to keeping families and communities out of harm’s way and to help them on the road to recovery after a tragedy. For more information about what we do and our core values, read about The Aftermath Way.