December 3rd, 2021

What’s Up Doc?: Are you prepared to stay safe and healthy this winter?

By DR. NOORALI BHARWANI on November 23, 2021.

Winter is here and it is just the beginning of cold weather. This is the time to plan for the next six months. Here are some reminders for you, for your health and your safety.

First, we have to prepare ourselves for our own safety with winter jackets and shoes. Second, we should make sure our home and vehicles are ready for winter. You should prepare for power outages and outdoor activity. We should not forget to check on our older neighbours and relatives.

Install good quality windows. Insulate water lines which are close to exterior walls. Check your heating systems. Have your heating system serviced. Fireplaces and chimney should be checked.

Smoke detector batteries should be tested and replaced twice a year.

Carbon monoxide detectors. If you don’t have one, then get one. Change the battery when you change your clocks. Carbon monoxide is colourless and odourless. Symptoms of poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.

Prepare your vehicle for winter. Get it serviced before winter sets in. Keep the gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.

It is a good idea to carry an emergency winter kit in your car, especially if you do a lot of out-of-town driving for work or pleasure. Prepare a winter emergency kit to keep in your car.

If you are stuck in your vehicle and are waiting for help, then run the motor (and heater) for about 10 minutes per hour. From time to time open one window slightly to let in air. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe – this will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Don’t forget to check on your neighbours. Make sure your pets stay inside.

To be safe is important. It is also important to enjoy the winter outdoors. There are many healthy winter sports which are popular in Canada. Especially in Alberta, we are blessed with beautiful mountains and snow.

One can enjoy ice skating, skiing, sledding, snowboarding, snowmobiling, hockey, curling, ice fishing and more. If you don’t like to be out in the snow, you can join a gym and do some indoor workouts.

Most common causes of injury in winter sports are falls and collisions. You can substantially reduce the risks with common sense and proper planning, preparation and equipment.

Studies have shown that participants in cold-weather games are going through events at faster speeds and spend more time in the air than those competing in warm-weather sports. Risk of injury increases.

Enjoy the winter safely. Make sure you have the right clothing, equipment and training. Be involved in group activity so help is there in case of injury. Have fun!

Dr. Bharwani is a general surgeon, freelance writer, photographer and author of A Doctor’s Journey and Doctor B’s Eight Steps to Wellness. You can discuss this article and other articles on his website:

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