Tips for staying safe and healthy this winter

This autumn has been so unusually warm that the abrupt arrival of cold weather finds me a little unprepared for the coming winter and snow. If you’re in the same situation, you’ve got some quick catching up to do. Here are some tips to prepare your family for a safe and healthy winter.

1. Prepare your home for winter

  • Have your heating system, fireplaces and chimneys professionally serviced
  • Change the batteries in your smoke detector twice a year (spring and autumn when you change your clocks) and test them monthly
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector, or replace the batteries in the one you have, to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Check that you have a good working shovel and keep a supply of salt, sand or cat litter to prevent falls on icy sidewalks

2. Be prepared for power outages during winter storms

  • Create your family emergency kit
  • Have food on hand that doesn’t require cooking or refrigeration
  • Keep an emergency supply of water
  • Make sure your cell phone is full charged
  • Always have enough baby items, first-aid items and medicine on hand
  • Stock flashlights, a battery-operated radio and extra batteries

3. Prepare your vehicle for winter driving

  • Check the forecast and highway conditions before you travel
  • Check the tire tread and, if necessary, replace tires with all-weather or snow tires
  • Keep your gas tank and windshield washer fluid full
  • Keep a scraper and snow brush in your vehicle
  • Make sure you have a winter emergency kit (shovel, blankets, flashlight, food and water, first-aid kit, medicine, baby items)

4. Prepare to stay active with daily physical activity

  • Plan winter activities to stay healthy (go for a brisk walk or try a new class at the gym)
  • Keep stress in check – participate in activities you enjoy
  • Make sure you have suitable clothing for outdoor activities (dress in layers and wear a wind-resistant coat, waterproof boots, hat, scarf and mittens)

5. Prepare to stay healthy and avoid getting sick

  • Get the annual flu shot from your doctor or a pharmacy, or book an appointment at a Public Health clinic by calling 1-800-265-7293
  • Eat a balanced diet (see Canada’s Food Guide for the recommended number of vegetables and fruits, grain products, milk and alternatives, meat and alternatives)
  • Wash your hands regularly to prevent the spread of germs
  • Get enough sleep (sleep deficiency can raise your risk for chronic health problems)
  • If you get sick, stay home to get well and to stop the spread of germs

I enjoy the changing seasons but have to admit that part of me would like to hibernate until warm weather returns. This winter, I’m going to make a commitment to be more active.

What are you doing to stay healthy this winter?