Health Matters | Stay Safe During and After the Winter Storm

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Stay Safe During and After the Winter Storm

Snow is quickly accumulating in Richmond and Hampton Roads, Virginia this morning, creating potentially dangerous conditions. It is important to keep some basic winter safety tips in mind during and after the storm:

Shoveling Snow
A necessary evil after a snow storm, shoveling snow can pose a health risk for many people. Snow shoveling is a strenuous activity. It can increase blood pressure and heart rate. Individuals with a history of heart disease, high blood pressure or strokes should not shovel snow.

If you must shovel snow, shovel as early as possible. Snow is heavier after it has been on the ground for a few days - often melting and re-freezing, creating a solid chunk of snow rather than powdery, just-fallen snow. Also, make sure that you are properly hydrated and prepare your body for shoveling by warming up. Jog in place or do ten jumping jacks before you begin to shovel, as this will get your blood flowing before you begin. Also, be sure to take your time and move slowly when shoveling snow. Shoveling too fast can increase your blood pressure and put you at greater risk for spraining or pulling a muscle.

Walking on Ice
Icy patches can be difficult to see. The slips and falls caused by ice can be serious. If you come across an area that you believe may be icy, tap the edge of the area with your foot to be sure. Wear shoes with gripping soles to provide traction. Also, keep your hands out of your pockets when walking in order to keep your balance on a slippery surface. Don’t carry heavy items like shopping bags with you when walking on slippery surfaces. This can change your center of balance, making you more likely to slip and fall.

When getting out of your vehicle, check to make sure there are no icy spots near your vehicle. If you are parked on a slick spot, move the vehicle to a different area if you can. Also, when entering and exiting your car while on ice, use the vehicle for balance and support.

Frostbite
Frostbite occurs when skin and its underlying tissue are exposed to very cold temperatures and freezing conditions. Skin that appears waxy or hard and has a gray tone may have frostbite. The damaged skin may also itch or burn and may turn red in color as the affected area thaws.

The first step to treating frostbite is to get out of the cold. Get inside to a warm place as soon as possible. Once inside, remove any wet clothing. If you cannot get out of the cold, place your hands under your arms to warm them. Also, cover areas that can be most affected by frostbite (nose and ears) with a scarf and try not to walk if your feet may have frostbite, as this will make the condition worse.

Frostbite is generally treated by gradually warming the skin. Remember to seek the treatment of a medical professional as soon as possible if you think you may have frostbite.



  • 7 Ways to Stay Active During the Fall Season
    Summer has come to a close and the warm weather is fading. While you might not be able to do your favorite summer activities during fall, these tips can help you stay active during the colder season. Include the family and encourage them to stay fit this fall!

    Take a Hike
    Take an afternoon off and hike your favorite trail – or make your own! Hike up the side of a mountain to get some fresh air and enjoy the fall foliage. Bring a pair of binoculars along and watch the wildlife.

    Sleep Outside
    Head to a local camping ground and pitch a tent for a night. Enjoy the fall weather and get some fresh air! Pack up the family and make a weekend out of it.

    Ride a Bike
    Biking is a great way to get active in the fall! Head to a local park or trail and enjoy the weather. Ride with a friend and pack a healthy snack for when you reach the top!

    Enjoy Fall's Harvest
    Many fruits and veggies are in harvest during the fall season. Check out your local farmer’s market or head to the orchard to pick your own apples, pumpkins, and other seasonal edibles.

    Attend a Fall Festival
    Festivals are a great way to get the whole family active and outdoors. Meet up with a friend and engage in fun activities that celebrate fall, like corn mazes and hay rides.

    Do Some Yard Work
    With the leaves falling off the trees, you have plenty of work ahead of you! Raking can be a great upper body workout to keep you toned during the fall season. Rake leaves into one large pile – and let the kids jump in it! Remember to warm up with a few stretches before you begin working. Your muscles will thank you for it. Start with a short walk to loosen the muscles, followed by a 5 to 10 minute stretching session. This will help prevent injury to your back, legs, arms, shoulders and neck.

    Take the Game Outside
    You don’t have to spend the season watching football on the couch – head outside with the family to toss a ball around after dinner! See who can make the most touchdowns and get in a fun workout at the same time!

    Don’t let the weather keep you inside all day! Grab a jacket and head outside to stay active during the fall season.
  • Tips to Keep Kids Active During Winter Break
    When spring and summer are here, it is easy to find games and activities in which your children can participate. However, once the winter months roll around, it is often more tempting for kids to stay warm indoors by parking themselves in front of a television or wasting the day away on their smartphones. If you want to make sure your little ones stay active despite the chilly weather, try out some of the fun ideas below!

    Hit the Gym
    When temperatures drop, outdoor games are not always the best idea. What is a parent to do in this circumstance? If you have a family gym membership, it can be a great place to take your kids to get some exercise while having a ton of fun! Most gyms usually have a play area specifically for young children, and several even have an indoor swimming pool open to gym members of all ages.

    Snowball Fight!
    If you live in an area that is lucky enough to see snow during the winter months, then throw on those winter coats and boots and take full advantage of it with your kids! Have some fun by sledding, building a snowman together, or even having a good old-fashioned snowball fight. Enjoying the snow is a free way to stay active and have a blast!

    Brain Power
    In addition to staying physically active, it is important to make sure your children are staying mentally active as well. During a long winter break from school, it is easy to spend hours doing mindless activities such as surfing the internet or binge-watching a new television show. Help you kids break this habit by spending the day at a local library or taking them to a museum! Reading is a great way to keep the mind fresh, and kids can have fun choosing their own books to take home. Additionally, many art, science, and history museums feature interactive exhibits and age-appropriate activities that will keep your little ones engaged and excited, all while learning something new!

    It doesn’t have to be difficult to keep your kids active during the winter months. These ideas are just a couple of helpful tools you can use to motivate them to have some healthy, productive fun!

  • Stay Safe in the Cold
    Winter is putting much of the mid-Atlantic in the deep freeze. We will deal with dangerously low temperatures over the next few days. These conditions can bring their own health risks. Here are some cold weather dangers to be aware of, and ways to protect your family:

    Frostbite
    Frostbite occurs when skin and its underlying tissue are exposed to very cold temperatures and freezing conditions. Skin that appears waxy or hard and has a gray tone may have frostbite. Damaged skin may also itch or burn. Frostbitten skin may also turn red as the affected area thaws.

    To help prevent frostbite:
    • Wear warm clothing and dress in layers.
    • Use hats, gloves, scarves, thick socks, and well-insulated boots to cover body parts that are prone to frostbite (nose and ears).
    • Remember that even brief exposure to extreme cold can cause frostbite.
    • If you notice the signs of frostbite, go into a warm area as soon as possible.

    If you have frostbite, be treated by a medical professional as soon as possible. Take these precautions until you can see a physician:
    • Remove any wet clothing.
    • Unless absolutely necessary, do not walk on frostbitten toes or feet.
    • Gently warm the frostbitten area in warm water (not hot) until the skin appears red and warm.
    • Do not use direct heat to warm the skin, rub or massage the skin, or break blisters.

    Walking on ice
    Icy patches can be difficult to spot. The slips and falls that come with ice can be serious. If you come across a patch that you believe may be icy, tap the edge of the area with your foot to be sure. Wear shoes with gripping soles to provide traction. Also, keep your hands out of your pockets when walking in order to keep your balance on a slippery surface.

    When getting out of your vehicle, check to make sure there are no icy spots near your vehicle. If you are parked on a slippery spot, move the vehicle to a different area if you can. Also, when entering and exiting your car while on ice, use the vehicle for balance and support.

    Stay hydrated
    Dehydration is common during the winter months. Winter activities are just as strenuous as summer activities. We also tend to wear layers of warm clothing during the winter. That means our bodies work harder (by sweating) to cool us down.

    If you don’t stay hydrated you can suffer exhaustion, muscle fatigue, cramps, loss of coordination or even stroke. Dehydration also makes you an easy target for colds and flu.

    Here are some tips to keep you hydrated this winter:
    • Drink before, during and after exercise or outdoor activities.
    • Water-based foods like soup, fruits and vegetables are a great source of hydration and nutrients.
    • Reduce the amount of sodium in your diet.



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