Preventing cold-related illness
There are a number of actions you can take to help prevent or minimize cold-related illness.
During periods of extremely cold weather, the best way to remain safe is to try and stay indoors, especially if there are high winds. Keep trips outside as brief as possible.
Appropriate clothing is an excellent way to prevent frostbite and hypothermia if you must spend time outdoors. Dressing in layers of light clothing, rather than bulky, heavy clothes tends to be most effective. The clothing should minimize the amount of exposed skin, particularly to susceptible areas including ears, nose, fingers, and toes. Make sure to protect your hands, feet and head. You should try and keep your clothing and skin dry because wet skin freezes more rapidly. If your clothing or shoes get wet, seek shelter immediately and allow the wet articles to dry or change into a dry set of clothing.
Remain aware of your body as you are out in cold weather. Pay particular attention to the symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia and act promptly to remedy the condition should those signs appear. Shivering is an important signal that your body is losing heat. Do not ignore shivering; view this as a signal to return indoors. Avoid alcoholic beverages and mood-altering substances because they can hinder your ability to recognize signs of cold-weather health problems such as hypothermia.
Because cold weather puts extra strain on the heart, be careful when performing physical activity such as shoveling snow or other hard work. Many people die due to heart attacks related to overexertion with hard labor (shoveling heavy snow, walking through drifts, or pushing a car). The body is already working hard to stay warm, so minimize additional exertion by stretching before going outside, dressing warmly, and working slowly. People with heart disease or high blood pressure should follow their doctor’s advice about performing outdoor work. Avoid perspiring or becoming overtired as this could cause you to become chilled and overworked.
Food and drink
Certain foods and drink can help you stay warmer. Regularly eat well-balanced meals and drink warm, sweet beverages (e.g. hot chocolate) or broth. Avoid alcoholic or caffeinated beverages because they cause your body to lose heat more rapidly.
Stay safe by keeping warm and dry.