Posted by: Chelsea Hampton | September 28, 2012

Make Health and Safety a Priority Every Month, Every Day

September is nearly over already. This month celebrated National Farm Safety and Health Week, Labor Day, and marked the end of summer. As we head into the holidays and colder weather, an important point to remember is that safety and health are not simply components of an annual observance – they are important aspects of life that should be made a priority every day. As health and safety become more ingrained in all facets of life in society, it is possible to see positive changes from the individual level to communities as a whole. With the colder months approaching, being aware of weather-related conditions and injuries is important, as is being aware of how to prevent these issues. This time of year also brings flu season and additional stress with the holidays, so self-care is vital as well. Below are some helpful tips to be mindful of throughout the colder seasons.

Defend against Flu & Cold – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu season usually peaks around January – February. The CDC also starts producing reports on flu activity in October, which can be accessed at:  http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/fluactivitysurv.htm. Take proactive steps against illnesses by washing hands frequently with soap and water (or use hand sanitizer if soap is not available), be sure to get plenty of rest, avoid contact with individuals who are sick, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs can spread easily, so prevention is key!

Prevent Cold-Related Illness & Injury – Ranchers and farmers work throughout the year in all types of weather. Just as there are risks for heat-related illness, agricultural workers can be at risk for cold-related illnesses as well, which is why it is important to be prepared for winter months. Problematic issues like frost bite and hypothermia can arise without much warning in colder weather, particularly in regions that frequently have low temperatures. When working outdoors in cold weather, preventative steps include dressing appropriately with layers, always keeping a change of clothes on hand, keeping sure to protect extremities with proper gloves and non-slip footwear, and always wearing a hat. In addition, take breaks as much as possible in warm shelter, and bring along some kind of portable heater or even a hand warmer. Cold-related illness is a very real occupational hazard, so use caution when working outdoors during cold months. For more information and prevention tips, access the publication Preventing Cold-Related Illnesses in Agricultural Workers from the Wyoming AgrAbility website:  http://www.uwyo.edu/agrability/fact_sheets/preventing_cold.pdf.

Minimizing Stress & Remembering Self-Care – While people encounter stressors every day, the holiday season can definitely amplify feelings of stress and anxiety. The holidays typically mean preparing for parties, family gatherings, gift buying, little personal time and lots of food, food, food! To avoid feeling overwhelmed and neglecting one’s own needs, prepare lists and plan as much as possible. Being prepared and putting all of the to-do’s down on paper can eliminate unnecessary last-minute stressing while providing more time to get other things done. Secondly, make sure to get adequate sleep! Feeling sleep deprived can wreak havoc on the body and lead to a host of other health issues, which is not needed (no matter how many parties or cookie platters). In addition, try to make other self-care practices an integral part of daily life, especially exercise. Physical exercise has its own immune-boosting, stress-alleviating benefits, and can help maintain overall health throughout the holiday season.

Information obtained and adapted from the following sources:

-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Seasonal influenza (Flu). http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season.htm.

Preventing Cold-Related Illnesses in Agricultural Workers. Wyoming AgrAbility.  http://www.uwyo.edu/agrability/fact_sheets/preventing_cold.pdf.

9 Signs You’re Headed for a Holiday Meltdown. http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20439135,00.html.

This information is provided courtesy of the Wyoming AgrAbility Project. For more information, visit our website or call toll-free at 866-395-4986.

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