Now that autumn is in full swing and cooler weather has arrived, you know what that means: Cold and flu season has begun, along with the other health and safety risks that come along with cold weather. These tips can help you stay safe, particularly if you plan to travel to a colder climate for holiday visits with family.
Plan your wardrobe carefully. In colder weather, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed (you can always remove an extra sweater if you feel too warm). Wear several layers of clothing, and don’t forget about gloves and a hat.
Know the symptoms of hypothermia. Hypothermia can set in quickly, particularly for those over age 60. Take note of dizziness, confusion, exhaustion, shivering, skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy skin.
Take care when driving. If you choose to travel during cold weather, monitor the forecast so that you can avoid driving in sleet or snow. Inform family members or friends of your plans, travel during the day, keep your cell phone charged, and toss a blanket into the car just in case.
Avoid contact with surfaces. Cold and flu germs can linger on surfaces, so avoid touching things that others might have recently touched. Wipe down shopping cart handles, use a paper towel to open bathroom doors, and wash your hands frequently. Avoid touching your face, especially around your nose or eyes, because this is how germs are introduced to your body.
Consider vitamin supplementation. During cold and flu season, taking a vitamin C supplement can help to boost your immune system. Vitamin D can also be helpful, especially if you aren’t getting enough sunlight lately (you can supplement, or use a special UV light in your home).
Eat a healthy diet. Avoid processed sugar, which can depress your immune system, and focus on fresh fruits and vegetables.
Take extra care with space heaters. Keep them away from anything that could serve as kindling for a fire, like curtains, blankets, and furniture. Place space heaters out of the way so that they don’t become a tripping hazard.
Report unusual symptoms to your doctor. As always, it’s better to be on the cautious side. If you’re worried about cold exposure or illness, check in with your doctor so that more serious complications like pneumonia can be avoided.