Winter arrives with a vengeance this week. Northern Virginia and much of the country will see temperatures drop to their lowest level in several years so it is important to keep some basic winter safety tips in mind:
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.
Walking on ice
Icy patches can be tough 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. 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.
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.
• Drink half of your body weight in fluid ounces every day.
• Water-based foods like soup, fruits and vegetables are a great source of hydration and nutrients.
• Reduce the amount of sodium in your diet.