Keeping the family healthy (and happy) in winter
Winter infectionsAlthough people get sick in other seasons, the winter brings more respiratory infections like the flu (influenza), colds (viral upper respiratory infections), and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), which can be serious, especially for babies. But cold air is only indirectly to blame: these infections have an easier time circulating when kids and adults are huddled together indoors trying to get away from the cold. In other words, it’s the behaviour that makes the difference. You can modify your behaviour to reduce the chances you and your family will get one of these infections this winter. Respiratory hygiene practices such as sneezing into your sleeve, frequent hand washing, and getting a flu shot will help diminish the chances illness will circulate around the house and all who live within it. If, despite your vigilance, your child does get a cough or has a sore throat, here’s how to take their temperature to check for fever.
So now that you know cold air won’t make you sick, why not get outside and enjoy the winter? Here is information on how to stay safe while skiing, skating, tobogganing and more. The old adage is that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. Warm clothing lets you have more fun for a longer time outdoors, but dressing properly for the cold weather is a big part of staying safe in the winter too. The right boots, underclothes, and jacket (and sunglasses!) will also help keep you and your kids from getting common cold-weather injuries. It’s often said that the best defence is a strong offence. Getting outside and active will also help keep your family’s spirits up and the resulting happiness is probably the best cure for depression associated with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the very scientific name for the winter blues or February blahs. Taking advantage of what sunshine there is, getting active, and paying a little attention to diet also helps maintain vitamin D, which can be reduced in winter.
Cold dry air and exposed skin
While it won’t make your kids sick, cold dry air can be rough on some. For example, cold air can trigger an asthma attack. Even if asthma is not an issue, after picking, cold air is the number two cause of nosebleeds. In advance of your child getting a nosebleed (I wasn’t picking, Mom, I swear!), find out how to stop nosebleeding in this video. Cold air locks up moisture. It sucks out water vapour, turning it to ice. This can be difficult on exposed skin. Babies’ noses may get sore and turn red, and kids with eczema may have more issues than in summer. In general, skin just tends to dry out in winter. The best thing to do is be proactive about it. Don’t wait until it becomes a problem to address the issue.
Back in the house
After the snowman becomes too tall to add to and the kids look like they could use a warm drink, it’s time to head indoors where it’s nice and warm. But hopefully not too warm, as in hot like the fireplace or stove, both major sources of indoor winter injuries. Take a few moments to winterize your house against preventable injury. One thing you can’t prevent is a power outage or other emergency, but you can prepare for them in advance. Your family should be able to sustain itself for 72 hours just in case of such an event. If you are lucky enough to escape the winter on a vacation, here are some great tips on how to keep your family healthy while having fun on a trip. Thank you to AboutKidsHealth.ca