COPING WITH THE COLD
January 17th, 2018 | Brian Q. McDonnell
For all of its beauty, winter can be an unpredictable time. Attorney Brian Q. McDonnell and the team at HKQ Law want to help you and your family deal with this season’s pitfalls. In this article, we’ll explore some health-related issues that winter brings with it.
Frigid temperatures are winter’s calling card. Extreme cold can cause hypothermia, when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, resulting in a dangerously low body temperature. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and exhaustion. Infants and the elderly are most susceptible to exposure due to the cold.
Make sure children are properly dressed. Several layers of medium weight clothing keep the body warmer than one heavy garment. Make sure to cover ears and hands as they can be prone to frostbite. Although prolonged exposure to the cold while outdoors is a typical cause of hypothermia, the condition can occur indoors, especially with elderly people.
Winter brings with it more than a few grey, gloomy days. Between 10-20% of Americans may suffer from mild symptoms associated with the winter blues, while 5% of the population is afflicted with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). A type of clinical depression that occurs during the winter months, SAD is triggered by a decrease in sunlight.
Here are some ways to battle the blues:
- Let the sunshine in. Open your blinds and curtains. (If you’ve been diagnosed with SAD, you may want to invest in a special light that mimics sunshine.)
- Head somewhere warm for a few days if you can.
- Get some exercise.
- Grow indoor plants.
- Eat foods containing tryptophan. The best sources are turkey, sunflower seeds, lobster, asparagus, cottage cheese, pineapple, tofu, spinach and bananas.
Shoveling snow can be more than just a hassle. Between 1990 and 2006, 1,600 people died of heart attacks related to snow removal. A shovelful of wet snow can weigh as much as
25 pounds. So, you could be moving hundreds of pounds of snow.
There are ways to make shoveling safer:
- Before you get started, make sure you’re healthy enough to shovel snow. (If you’re not, ask for help, or hire someone.)
- Stretch before you start.
- Stay ahead of the snow. Don’t wait until the snow stops to start shoveling. Clear the snow when it accumulates a few inches.
- Dress in breathable layers. Stay warm, and beware of hypothermia.
- Use an ergonomically-designed shovel with a small plastic blade.
- Push the snow to the side rather than trying to lift it.
- If you must lift the snow, do it properly. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift with your legs. Scoop small amounts of snow into the shovel and walk to where you want to dump it.
- Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated by drinking water. Don’t drink alcohol before shoveling.
- If you experience any pain while shoveling, STOP IMMEDIATELY. Keep your cell phone with you so you can make a call in the event of an emergency.
Take every step possible to ensure your warmth and safety. Should you find yourself requiring professional, medical attention due to wintery conditions, be proactive with your health. Ask questions and insist that your needs are being met. Additional ways to stay safe can be found on our website at www.hkqpc.com/news.