Winter season is a time for holiday celebrations and gift giving. It occurs from December to March. The year’s coldest months are December and January when temperature is between 10-15 degree Celsius in the northern region and around 20-25 degree Celsius in southern region.
In order to be healthy in winter season keeping warm is very necessary. But it brings various health hazards. Some of winter products such as hot water bottles, electric blankets and heaters can cause burns and other injuries. These equipments can at times overheat and can give electric shock and cause a fire.
What to Do to Remain Safe Indoors
It is seen that more than 40% of all deaths from fire happen during winter. In order to prevent this situation, install smoke alarms throughout home and test it monthly.
Always keep curtains, tablecloths and bedding away from portable heaters.
Keep wet clothes at least one metre from heaters of fireplaces. Never place clothes or towels on heater.
Never use gas oven or stove as a room heater as such room heaters consume all the oxygen of room. This results in first formation of carbon di oxide and then carbon mono oxide. Carbon monooxide poisoning can kill.
If you are using Gas Water Heater in bathroom, make sure there is proper ventilation. Lack of ventilation, can lead to Carbon monooxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that has no smell or taste. Breathing it in can make you unwell, and it can kill if you’re exposed to high levels. Every year there are incidents of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. After carbon monoxide is breathed in, it enters your bloodstream and mixes with haemoglobin (the part of red blood cells that carry oxygen around your body), to form carboxyhaemoglobin. When this happens, the blood is no longer able to carry oxygen, and this lack of oxygen causes the body’s cells and tissue to fail and die.
It should be kept in mind to use just one appliance per power point and switch them off when you’re not using them. Overload caused by heater can cause a fire.
- Never leave burning candles or any open flame unattended.
- Always store matches and lighters in a safe place out of reach of young children.
- Always keep children away from open heat sources such as gas stoves.
- Always check every winter that heaters are safe to use.
- Always check that gas heater is working correctly.
Always use warm not boiling water to fill hot water bottle and examine any leaks before use. Replace it as soon as it starts to look cracked or worn or every 2 years. As rubber can perish from inside so the worn-out signs of bottle are not correctly visible.
Hot water bottles should never be kept directly on skin as it can cause burn injuries. It should always be wrapped in a towel or any cloth.
Besides cold and flu are very common in winters. Flu is caused by various types of viruses and cause severe health hazard. If not treated properly it can lead to death.
How to Prevent Flu
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Throw tissues in the bin after use.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water especially after cough or sneeze.
- Use alcohol based hand sanitizers.
- Avoid contact to eyes, nose or mouth as germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with people who have a flu-like illness.
If a person has flu like symptom:
- He should stay home. It will limit the spread of flu to other people.
- Try to limit contact with other people to keep from infecting them.
- It is seen that no treatment is very effective to cure cold. The only way to recover faster is to take plenty of rest and take adequate fluid in diet.
In order to stay healthy in winter season it is very important to eat nutritious food. Food should include vitamins, carbohydrates and fats. A well-balanced diet should be taken to stay healthy. Always add high amount of protein, fibres, Vitamins B, C, D and E, low sugars and fats in diet.
It is very important to drink fluids throughout the day. In winter, we do not feel thirst as we do not perspire. So, it is easy to neglect hydration when weather becomes cooler. Also, skin problems like eczema become more common in winter because of change of temperature and indoor heating can dry out our skin. Drinking adequate amount of fluids will flush out toxins from body.
In winters it is seen that people become lazy in winter. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a condition which is seen in winter. It prevents people to be active and maintain health.
- Always take out time from routine for exercise. It makes a person more active and free from disease.
- In order to keep warm, keep curtains drawn and doors closed to block cold winds.
- Try to take regular hot drinks and at least one hot meal a day if possible.
- Eat regularly as it helps in keeping energy levels up during winter.
- Always wear several light layers of warms clothes.
- Always include 2 fruits and 5 vegetables in diet.
- Limit intake of foods which contains saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol.
- Reduce sitting time in front of television or computer.
- Include Vitamin C containing fruits such as Amla, Orange, Lemon in diet. This helps to boost immunity and helps in recureent repiratory infection.
- As Smoking causes around 5,200 deaths and 44,000 hospitalisations in year, it is very important to quit smoking.
- Quitting will improve health and reduce risk of disease and premature death.
- Wear hat, gloves and socks to avoid exposure. Don’t wear too much as it will hinders blood circulation.
- Eat foods with high calories.
- Avoid exposure to the cold for too long.
- Don’t spit. Always wrap nasal mouth discharges with tissue paper and dispose it properly in bin. Spitting in open can cause spread of infection.
- Wear mask when symptoms of respiratory tract infection or fever develops.
- Always maintain good ventilation of indoor areas.
- Special care should be taken for infants. Do not overheat or overdress baby in order to keep warm. It increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Keep baby’s face and head uncovered during sleep.
- Keep room well ventilated.
As old people has less fat beneath their skin they are more prone to catch cold. Diseases in these individuals worsen in winter season. Their control mechanism is weaker so they are infected by diseases. Problems like hypertension, diabetes and problems related to endocrine system also worsen due to lower metabolic rate and this causes production of less heat in body.
Stroke, Fractures, Parkinson’s disease and dementia (loss of memory) may restrict the mobility of the elderly. It slows down the generation and conservation of the body heat.
Old age should wear appropriate warm clothing, including hats, scarves, gloves and socks.
They should avoid consumption of alcohol. Some people think that drinking alcohol will keep warm, but this is wrong. In fact, alcohol causes the blood vessels to dilate and the body actually looses heat.
Babies should normally lie on their backs. Pillows should not be used. Babies should not be placed with their feet at the foot of the cot and their arms outside light bedding.
Worsening of asthma is seen in winter.
Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. Asthma causes recurring periods of wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. The coughing often occurs at night or early in the morning.
Symptoms of Asthma
Cough is common symptom of asthma. It starts from dry cough.
- It is whistling or high pitches sound which is heard as air is d of narrow tight airways.
- Tightness of chest is seen in asthma. Younger children describe it as pain in stomach.
- Vomiting associated with severe attacks.
- Feeling anxious and frightened.
- Patient will gasp for air.
- Patient is unable to speak more than single words.
- Patient will struggle to take breath.
- Frequent sucking in at the throat and stomach.
Life threatening asthma symptoms:
- Being unable to move and speak.
- Patient appear pale and blue around the lips.
- No audible wheezing.
- Asthma is a long-term disease that has no cure. The goal of asthma treatment is to control the disease. You can work with your doctor to create a personal asthma action plan.