Posted by: Chelsea Hampton | December 11, 2012

Cold Weather Wellness Trivia Answers

mountain in winter

  • What health issues and conditions can come from exposure to cold weather?

Several issues can be brought on by exposure to cold temperatures, including hypothermia and frostbite. Research has also shown a correlation between cold exposure and cardiovascular problems such as heart attack and stroke. Individuals with a history of heart disease seem to be particularly vulnerable, which is why it is important to consult a health professional regarding one’s health history and risk. For more information on heart attack risk, check out the following article by the Scientific American:  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=cold-heart-attacks.

  • What are some hazards that accompany winter weather and snowstorms?

Numerous hazards can accompany winter weather and snowstorms. Wind, ice, and snow can make things incredibly difficult for working outdoors and traveling even short distances. Common hazards include falls, automobile accidents, power outages, and inadequate preparation for cold weather (vehicle and home). Warm clothing and dressing in layers is critical in colder temperatures, even when venturing outdoors for a brief period of time. Hazards within the home include poor insulation, possible carbon monoxide dangers, and not having an emergency supply kit on hand. For vehicle safety, a full safety inspection should always be done, and tires, wipers, and lights should be replaced as needed. It is important to keep an emergency kit in the car as well, and avoid driving in poor weather conditions if possible.

  • What populations may be especially vulnerable to the risks of exposure to cold temperatures?

As stated in previous posts, older adults, babies, and persons with pre-existing medical conditions may be particularly vulnerable when exposed to cold temperatures and poor weather conditions, so keep additional safety precautions in mind for individuals at risk. Individuals with oxygen needs or other medical condition requiring electrical power may need to keep an additional power source on hand in case of outages. Individuals with arthritic conditions may have worsening symptoms when working in cold temperatures, which can in turn hinder mobility for completing work tasks and compromise safety.

  • What are some proactive steps that can be taken to help avoid cold-weather injury and illness, especially for individuals working outdoors?

There are many steps one can take to help avoid cold-weather injury and illness! Some of the major steps for prevention include wearing adequate clothing for cold weather, packing emergency kits for the home and car, and avoiding prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. Along with appropriate winter clothing, wear well-insulated, non-slip shoes/boots. If working outdoors, be sure to let someone know and take frequent breaks in warm shelter. In rural areas, it may be especially beneficial to carry a two-way radio device in case of an emergency, as cell phone service may not always be available. Make sure vehicles have been inspected and winterized.

  • What are some items to pack in an emergency kit for the home? For the road?

Emergency kits should include flashlights, first-aid items, matches, batteries, non-perishable snacks, and water. Specifics for a kit within the home should also include a can-opener, extra medications, and additional fuel/heat source. Additional items for the car kit should include blankets, a compass, tool kit, bag of sand or rock salt, and a shovel. When traveling, be sure cell phones are fully charged and keep a travel charger on hand. For more information on planning for cold weather, check out Extreme Cold: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety, at: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/guide.asp.  This helpful resource comes from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Emergency Preparedness and Response.

This is a brief overview on cold weather wellness, so be sure to check out our other resources from previous blog posts, as well as resources on the Wyoming AgrAbility and National AgrAbility Project websites. Thanks for reading, and stay warm and well!

Information obtained and adapted from the following sources:

-Harmon, K. (2010). Temperature drops put the squeeze on heart attack risk. Scientific American.  Retrieved from: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=cold-heart-attacks.

-Kirchheimer, Sid. (2011). 5 Hidden health dangers of winter: How to stay safe when the cold can play havoc with heart, blood pressure and lungs. AARP Bulletin.  Retrieved from: http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-12-2010/hidden_health_dangers_of_winter.html.

-Conley, Mikaela. (2010). Snow shoveling may put hearts at risk. abcNews. Retrieved from:  http://abcnews.go.com/Health/heart-attacks-winter-dangers/story?id=12494001#.UIrof2c–Sq.

– U.S. Department of Labor: Occupational Safety & Health Administration: Winter Storms. Retrieved from: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/emergencypreparedness/guides/winterstorms.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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