Common Winter Health Problems & How to Prevent Them

November 16, 2020

Winter in New England and other northern states means it’s time to turn in the lawnmower and sprinklers and to bring out the snow blower and warm clothes. With temperatures dropping and the chance of snow rising, we are reintroduced to another season of defrosting windows and slippery sidewalks. Winter brings on a whole new list of potential sickness and injuries. Here are a few common winter health problems and tips on staying safe:

Influenza

Taking care of your immune system is important at any point of the year, but it is especially important during flu season. The CDC has estimated that 38 million people had the flu in the 2019-2020 flu season. Flu season is brutal and can leave you feeling fatigued and nauseous, mixed with a fever and chills.

Thankfully, one of the best ways to keep yourself and your loved ones safe this winter is by receiving an annual flu vaccine. While the flu shot is 70% effective at preventing you from getting one of the four strains of influenza, it may also help minimize symptoms if you do catch it. Washing your hands frequently, not touching your face, and wearing clothing appropriate for the weather will help keep you safe this flu season.

Slips and Falls

Freezing temperatures mean black ice, while it can lead to broken bones or other physical injuries from slips and falls. It is important to properly salt your driveway and sidewalks to help keep you and others safe. If walking on an icy patch, try and have your hands clear, and have slow, short steps.

When shoveling snow, it’s important to try and shovel while it is still light and fluffy. The chance of injury is higher on wet, heavy snow. Always push the snow instead of trying to lift it. If you have to lift the snow, lift with your legs to avoid injury on your back. Do not work to the point of exhaustion. While uncommon, it is possible to cause a heart attack from sudden exertion after shoveling for too long.

Vehicle Safety

There are many precautions to take regarding your car in the winter. The first is to ensure your tires have enough tread on them to combat any black ice that may be on the roads ahead. This tread helps your car from spinning out by creating a tighter grip on the road. If possible, it is best to have snow tires, or all-weather tires, to your car just before the season begins. During below freezing temperatures, avoid frozen fuel lines by having between half of a tank to a full tank of gas.

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