By: Katie Leach, MS, ATC/LAT

Welcome back! If you haven’t checked out Part 1, be sure to so you don’t miss any other great info!

5. Emergency Preparedness Kits & Tips

To prepare your home for the onset of winter, you should maintain a small supply of necessities in case there is a power outage, you are snowed in place, or some other emergency. By keeping an eye on the weather throughout these months you should be able to make appropriate precautions prior to the impending conditions. When a storm is approaching, ensure that your phone is fully charged and that your emergency kit contains the following items:8

● Water (1 gallon per person per day/3-day supply) & non-perishable food that does not require cooking (3-day supply per person)

● Flashlight, weather radio, and lamps – all battery powered

● Extra batteries

● First aid kit & extra medicine (7-day supply)

● Extra, warm clothes

● Alternate heating methods & supplies

● Baby items (if applicable)

● Pet supplies (if applicable)

To prepare your car for the winter, ensure that your car has recently received a tune up and is free of maintenance issues, is running well and has tires with appropriate tread prior to the onset of inclement weather. In case of a breakdown, accident, traffic jams, or other roadside emergencies, a winter preparedness kit may the difference between life and death. Such kits should include the following items:

● Shovel

● Flashlight with batteries (& extra batteries)

● Jumper cables

● Battery powered radio

● Water & sustainable food (nuts, dried fruit, hard candy)

● Extra clothes – hats, gloves, socks, etc.

● First aid kit with pocket knife

● Prescription medications

● Warm, heavy blankets

● Tow chain, rope, & salt/sand/litter

● Emergency flares, reflectors, & distress flag

● Whistle to attract attention

● Cell phone & portable charger

Other winter tips for travel:9

● Keep exhaust pipe free of ice/snow

● If you are stuck, only run the engine for 10 minutes every hour

● Try to maintain a half tank of gas at all times

● Stay awake

● Avoid overexerting yourself

● Inform people of your travel plans prior to leaving & your location throughout your trip

● If stranded stay in your car. If for some reason you must leave your car write down your name, contact information and where you are going on a piece of paper and place it on the dashboard under the windshield

6. Safe Driving Tips

Driving can be challenging even under the best conditions, but when the roads get wet, icy, snowy, and slick the chances of being in an accident drastically increase. Every year more than 116,000 Americans are injured and over 1,300 are killed in vehicle accidents on snowy, slushy or icy roads. When accidents occur in these conditions, emergency service vehicles may also have trouble navigating roadways, which in turn increases their response time.10 No one ever wants to be in an accident, but especially not in inclement weather. The following tips will help to decrease the probability of your involvement in an accident and help you travel safely to your destination:11

● Avoid traveling on slick roads, unless necessary

● Check road conditions, traffic patterns, and weather prior to traveling

● Accelerate & decelerate slowly

● Maintain slow speeds

● Be a defensive driver

● Increase your following distance (8-10 seconds)

● Know how to use your braking system

● Avoid using cruise control

● Keep the sound low on the radio & reduce distractions

● Keep your gas tank as full as possible (at least half a tank)

● When traveling downhill, downshift to reduce need for breaking

● When skidding, take your foot off the accelerator and avoid braking

● When spinning, steer in the direction of the spin

● Use caution when passing or driving behind a snowplow

● Do not stop if you can avoid it

7. House Fire Prevention

House fires are devastating and can lead to injuries and deaths. Though it is cold, damp and wet during the winter, house fires are common during the winter months due families heating their homes with space heaters, fireplaces, central heating units, and utilizing their water heaters more often. Malfunctions or misuse of these sources accounts for 15% of all house fires, with space heaters being the leading cause (43%). Furthermore, just under half (48%) of these fires occur between December and February. Many fires can be prevented with basic precautions including proper maintenance and upkeep as well as utilizing all appliances

and heat sources as designed. However, should a fire break out, there are certain steps that can be taken to prevent serious injury or even death.12

Heating Source Safety

● Keep all fuel sources (paper, clothing, bedding) away from space heaters, stoves, and fireplaces

● Never leave fireplaces or space heaters unattended

● When using space heaters, place them on level, hard, and non-flammable surfaces

● Keep children and pets away from heat sources

● Buy space heaters with an automatic shut off

● Never use a heating range or stove to heat your home

● Utilize metal or glass screen to shield embers in your fireplace from sparking into the room

● Have coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, and furnaces professionally inspected and cleaned yearly

General Fire Safety

● Install fire alarms in every room in your home or work place

● Check fire alarms every month for proper function

● Replace batteries in every fire alarm once per year

● Replace fire alarm units every 10 years

● Have a properly maintained fire extinguisher close by

● Purchase fire safety ladder if you have a two-story home

● Have a fire route and practice it with your family 2 times per year. Visit this website for assistance on creating your families detailed fire escape plan.13

8. Heart health risks

Besides being cold and gloomy, winter can also be hard on your cardiovascular system. In fact, most cardiac related health conditions occur this time of year. When the body is exposed to the cold, the blood vessels of the body constrict. This decreasing in size of the blood vessels cause the heart to beat faster to push the blood throughout the body. This results in an increase in blood pressure. To compound the issue, cold blood tends to clot faster and easier. If these clots become lodged in the heart it can significantly restrict blood flow and may even result in tissue death. Several other factors that negatively impact our heart health during this time of year include: infections, cholesterol fluctuations, psychological stress, depression, and an increase in sedentary lifestyle. When combined, these factors put an individual at a risk to have a heart attack. Throughout the holiday and winter season, it is important to understand heart health risk factors, how to increase heart health as well as understand the warning signs of heart distress.

How to avoid strain on the heart14

● Dress for the weather by wearing plenty of layers. It’s important to try to maintain a warm body temperature when braving the elements.

● Try to reduce excessive physical and emotional stress. Avoid shoveling snow or trudging through deep snow, when possible. If this is unavoidable, be sure to take plenty of breaks and change your clothes if they get wet. Maintain or reduce your stress by managing anger, anxiety, and depression in a healthy

way. Seek care from your physician for these issues if you feel they are negatively impacting your life/health.

● Avoid drinking and eating in excess. Alcohol consumption in higher amounts may lead to atrial fibrillation (heart rhythm abnormality) which may lead to more serious heart conditions. Eating too much salt may negatively impact your blood pressure causing it to increase. Increased blood pressure puts people at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke. Furthermore, excessive eating may result in weight gain thereby indirectly impacting your heart health.15

● Getting the flu vaccination is an easy way to protect your heart. With the flu, fever and infection are typically present. Both of those factors increase strain on the heart.

● Avoid air pollutants caused by environmental factors (smog), those caused by smoke from wood-burning fireplaces as well as cigarette and cigar smoke.

● Seek help from your primary care physician if you suspect you have a cardiac condition or contact 911 if you feel you are having a cardiac event.

Heart Attack Symptoms

A heart attack is a life-threatening condition that is a medical emergency and needs to be addressed immediately. If you, or someone you know, may be having a heart attack call 911 right away. The following symptoms are cause for concern. These symptoms affect men and women differently and are broken down accordingly by gender.16

Common symptoms for both men and women

● Discomfort, tightness, pressure, fullness, and squeezing sensations in the center of the chest. These may last for more than a few minutes or come and go.

● Crushing chest pain

● Pressure/pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck, upper back, jaw, or arms

● Dizziness and nausea

● Clammy sweats, heart flutters, or paleness

● Feeling of anxiety, fatigue, or weakness that worsens with exertion

● Stomach or abdominal pain

● Shortness of breath

Symptoms that are more common in women than men

● Pain in the arm (left particularly), jaw, back, neck, abdomen, or shoulder blades

● Nausea/vomiting

● Overwhelming and unusual fatigue

● Lightheadedness or sweating

Heart Disease Symptoms

Heart disease symptoms vary widely and depend on the cause of the disease and what part of the cardiovascular system is affected. Visit our reference to find a complete list of causes, symptoms and treatment options.17

References 1. 2. 3. ( 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. ( 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17.

Katie Leach

Katie Leach

Industrial Sports Medicine Professional

Katie is an Industrial Sports Medicine Provider with InSite Health. She is a Board-Certified Athletic trainer with a bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale and a master’s degree in Kinesiology and Health from the University of Wyoming. She has 5 years of athletic training experience in the university, clinical, and industrial settings.