Staying Warm and Healthy In the Snow
By Kennika Freeman
Your dream finally came true. A snow day! School's closed for the whole day, and that means it's time for one thing: Going outside to have fun in the snow. Whatever the case, winter is a really fun time of year; it's great to have snowball fights, build snowmen, and construct igloos. But while you're out having fun, you have to know how to be safe. Follow these tips below to keep safe and warm.
1. Apply a petroleum jelly shield. If it's cold and windy, your face may suffer a case of windburn. A thin coating of petroleum jelly on exposed skin; particularly your cheeks, nose, chin, ears, and neck; will help prevent it.
2. Remember snow's first cousin: ice. So wear rubber-soled boots with good traction, go slowly, don't carry too many packages, and give yourself extra travel time to get wherever you're going, whether that's on foot or by car.
3. Drink plenty of water so that you're well hydrated. Don't drink caffeine or alcohol, or use nicotine products immediately before shoveling.
4. Pick the right shovel. A smaller blade will require you to lift less snow, putting less strain on your body.
5. If you're not in shape to shovel, hire a neighborhood kid to do it for you. Shoveling snow is very strenuous work. People who should think twice before doing it are those with a history of heart disease, heart attack, or high blood pressure.
6. Don't walk with your hands in your pockets. It's pretty basic advice, but this way, you can use your arms to regain your balance if you slip.
7. Look for patches of white or pale gray, waxy-textured skin. These are signs of frostbite. Get indoors and get immediate medical attention.
8. Make sure your boots aren't too tight. Either because they're too small or because you've stuffed them with too many pairs of bulky socks. You won't have enough blood circulating to your feet and they'll get even colder. Wool or polypropylene socks are a good choice for your feet.
9. Smear on some sunscreen and lip balm if you're out in the snow on sunny days. And slip on a pair of sunglasses or goggles to protect your eyes from the snow's glare. A sunny day in winter is often brighter and more dangerous to your eyes than the same sun in summer, thanks to the reflection off ice and snow.
10. Dress in layers. Make your first layer a shirt or long underwear made of synthetic microfibers, such as polypropylene. Avoid cotton, which gets wet and stays wet. Top your first layer with a fleece top and then a windproof jacket. This avoids the body from getting a chill.
11. Protect your back with good shoveling technique. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart for balance, and keep the shovel close to your body. Bend from the knees, not the back, and tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the snow. Avoid twisting movements. Always throw the snow in front of you, not over your shoulder.
12. Listen to your body. If you experience any shortness of breath, dizziness, or chest discomfort, stop immediately and seek medical care.