Be Prepared for These 3 Winter Health Hazards

Woman who has slipped and fallen in the snow

Don’t let hazardous winter weather put a damper on this beautiful time of year. Following these simple steps will help you safely enjoy the season.

Shovel with Caution

Shoveling heavy snow can put a big strain on the heart, especially if you have been inactive for months. Cold weather can also increase heart rate and blood pressure, decreasing your blood supply and increasing your risk of a heart attack.

  • Do not shovel after eating or while smoking.
  • Take it slow.
  • Shovel only fresh, powdery snow.
  • Push the snow rather than lifting it.
  • If you must lift the shovel, lift with your legs, not your back.
  • Do not work to the point of exhaustion.

Prevent Fires and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide poisonings and house fires peak during winter months. Cooking appliances, space heaters, fireplaces, and candles can be dangerous if not used properly.

  • Install a CO detector in your home.
  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside every sleeping area and on every level of your home.
  • Don’t heat your home with a gas range or oven.
  • Never run your vehicle in an enclosed garage.
  • Never use a generator inside your home or within 20 feet from any window, door, or vent.
  • Have your chimney checked and cleaned yearly.

Plan for Icy Roads

According to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, winter driving conditions contribute to an average of 27,970 vehicle crashes, 4,318 injuries and 49 fatalities in Illinois each year. Allow plenty of time to get to your destination when traveling on ice or snow-covered roads. Pack an emergency kit, and if you do get stranded, follow these tips:

  • Pull as far off the road as possible and set your hazard lights to "flashing.”
  • Stay in your vehicle. Do not leave your car on foot unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter.
  • Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow, and then run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. Be careful not to deplete battery power. When the engine is running, open a window slightly for ventilation. 

Prepare yourself and your loved ones for a safe and healthy winter!