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How to Stay Safe and Healthy This Winter

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How to Stay Safe and Healthy This Winter

Winter is a season that brings with it the beauty of snow-covered landscapes and the joy of a new year. With cold weather, shorter days, and different routines, winter presents unique challenges for our health and safety. From flu season to skiing injuries and hazardous road conditions, we must take extra precautions to protect ourselves.

Here are essential tips on how to stay safe and healthy this winter:

1. Dress Warmly

It might seem like common sense, but dressing appropriately for the cold is vital. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a three-layer approach to winter clothing. The outer layer should repel water and wind while allowing some ventilation to prevent overheating. The middle layer, made of wool or synthetic fabrics, provides insulation even when wet. Finally, the inner layer, closest to your skin, should absorb moisture to keep you dry.

If you are planning a day out from home, it is a good idea to pack extra clothing. Warm socks, an extra coat, and an extra hat or gloves can help you stay warm if they get snow-soaked or over-perspired.

Don’t forget the value of hand warmers and foot warmers!

2. Eat a Balanced Diet

Nutrition plays a significant role in winter wellness. A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains provides the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants needed to bolster the immune system. Foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, and zinc, found in lean meats and poultry, can help fend off colds and flu.

3. Stay Hydrated

Even though you might not feel as thirsty during winter, your body still needs adequate hydration. Dry winter air and indoor heating systems can dehydrate us, leading to fatigue, dry skin, and a weakened immune system. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Pack reusable water bottles when traveling on day trips or out of the house for extended periods.

Consider humidifying your living spaces to combat the drying effects of heated indoor air that can leave your skin dry and your body dehydrated.

4. Get Vaccinated

The CDC recommends that everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine every year. The flu virus changes every year, so it's crucial to get vaccinated annually to stay protected against the most current strains. It’s never too late to get the flu vaccine during the fall or winter months.

Additionally, consider getting a pneumonia vaccine if you're over 65 or have a chronic health condition. Consult with your healthcare provider to discuss this year’s flu shot and what other vaccines may be right for you.

5. Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise enhances immune function and promotes overall well-being. It can be hard to continue with your favorite summer or fall exercises in the winter, but there are many unique ways to stay active. Remember, any movement is better than no movement at all. Here are some great and unique winter exercises:

Indoor Workouts

You can follow along to various workout videos or even join a virtual fitness class. A wide range of options are available, from high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and pilates to dance fitness and yoga. Even home cleaning can act as a workout, depending on how dirty your home is.

Gym Sessions

If you have a membership or local gym nearby, it’s a great place to stay out of the chill and do weight lifting, cardio exercises, or fitness classes.

Indoor Rock Climbing

Indoor rock climbing is a great full-body workout that also challenges your mind. Check to see if you have a local indoor climbing gym for year-round climbing.


Swimming isn’t just relegated to the summer. Indoor pools provide an excellent opportunity for a full-body workout. Swimming is low-impact, making it a good option for people of all fitness levels.

Ice Skating or Hockey

These are fun winter activities that can burn a lot of calories. Many towns have indoor or outdoor ice rinks during the winter months.

Skiing or Snowboarding

If you live near mountains, these are excellent winter sports that provide a great workout and let you enjoy the beauty of nature.

Snowshoeing or Hiking

These activities provide a fantastic cardio workout and allow you to explore winter landscapes in a new way.

6. Practice Good Hygiene

Handwashing is your first line of defense against the spread of germs and viruses. It's crucial to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren't available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

When traveling, bring hand sanitizer and use medical gloves to prevent the spread of cold-related illnesses.

7. Protect Your Skin

Winter weather can wreak havoc on your skin, leading to dryness, cracking, and even frostbite in extreme cases. In addition to staying hydrated, regularly applying moisturizer can replenish your skin's moisture. Don't forget to protect your lips with a good lip balm and use sunscreen when spending time outdoors, as snow can reflect up to 80% of UV radiation.

8. Be Careful When Shoveling Snow

Shoveling snow can be a strenuous activity that raises heart rate and blood pressure. According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, snow shoveling accounts for 11,500 injuries each year.

To avoid injury, take frequent breaks, lift smaller loads, and use a shovel that's comfortable for your height and strength. Consider using a snow blower for larger jobs, and always listen to your body's signals.

9. Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer that can accumulate in your home due to malfunctioning heating systems or improper use of generators. Ensure your heating system is inspected annually by a professional, and install carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Never run a generator or grill inside your home or garage.

10. Be Prepared for Emergencies

Winter weather can be unpredictable, leading to power outages or hazardous driving conditions. Keep a winter emergency kit in your car with essentials like blankets, food, water, and a first-aid kit. Check the weather forecast before traveling, and avoid driving in severe weather whenever possible.

Winter Health Services in Lancaster

Winter can be a challenging season, but Antelope Valley Medical Center is here to help you stay safe and healthy, no matter what you may be up against. Learn more about our services at