Heart-Healthy Tips: Winter Weather

Thursday, 03 February 2011

There’s still a solid month of winter left in most parts of the country, and even the deep South has seen waves of ice and snow this year. Exposure to cold can cause life-threatening health conditions, such as frostbite and hypothermia. There are also risks involved in maintaining your home during severe weather conditions. When you do venture outdoors, stay safe and warm with these tips from the New York City Office of Emergency Management.

  • Wear a hat, hood, or scarf, as most heat is lost through the head.
  • Wear layers, as they provide better insulation and warmth.
  • Keep fingertips, earlobes, and noses covered if you go outside.
  • Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when outdoors.
  • Stretch before you go out. If you go out to shovel snow, do a few stretching exercises to warm up your body. This may prevent injury.
  • Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unfamiliar exercise, such as shoveling snow or pushing a car, can bring on a heart attack or aggravate other medical conditions. Take frequent rest breaks, and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothes frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
  • Stay safe. Walk carefully on snowy or icy sidewalks. If using a snowblower, NEVER use your hands to unclog the machine.
  • Maintain an awareness of utilities when shoveling snow. Do not cover fire hydrants with snow when clearing sidewalks and driveways. Do not shovel snow into manholes and catch basins.
  • Never go on frozen waters (unless clearly marked otherwise with official signs). If you do find yourself on ice and you hear cracking, lie down immediately to try to distribute your weight.


Sources: Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program; New York City Office of Emergency Management

 

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