While some of us are fans of the cold, and others are counting down the days till summer, we all need to take a moment to take steps to keep ourselves safe from frigid temperatures this winter.

Staying safe in cold weather

Building Snowman

Just as the beating summer sun can lead to health concerns such as heat stroke and dehydration, frigid winter temperatures also affect our health.
Chilly temperatures are not just uncomfortable, they can damage the body through frost bite or hypothermia, among other concerns. This can particularly be of concern to those who work outside.

Dr. John Maguire of Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, has offered these tips to keep you safe and comfortable this winter season:

  • Wear loose-fitting clothes.
  • Dress in layers. Choose outer layers that will block the wind.
  • Wear a hat and scarf when outside to retain body heat. For children, turtlenecks or gaters may be better than scarves for safety as children move around quickly, and a scarf can get tangled easily.
  • Wear gloves or mittens to protect your hands. (Mittens keep your fingers close together, so they're your best bet.)
  • Wear warm winter socks that will keep your feet dry. Some newer socks have dry-wicking properties to keep moisture from building up around your feet.
  • Make sure to stay dry and change out of damp clothing as soon as possible. Be sure to tell children that they should come indoors if their clothes get wet or when they feel cold. It may also help to give them set times to return indoors to ensure they are not outside too long.
  • Use lip balm to protect your lips from drying out in the cold weather and wind.
  • Drink plenty of water so you stay hydrated.
  • Contrary to some myths you may have heard, alcohol causes your body to lose heat, so avoid alcohol. In addition, alcohol can contribute to dehydration.
  • Eat small meals or snacks when going out in the cold. Heavy meals require a lot of blood flow and energy and to digest, preventing that energy and blood from helping to keep you and your extremities warm.
  • Keep extra clothing, blankets, snacks and water in your car. If you have car trouble or become stuck in bad weather, you'll want to be prepared.