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Cold-Weather Health Hazards: Low Temperatures Aren’t the Only Concern

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It’s official. The cold weather is here. And while it certainly can be a winter wonderland outside, this time of year comes with its own set of challenges.

You might think it’s just the low temperatures, but that’s not the only problem.

There are plenty of other cold-weather health hazards that pop up, too. So, to stay healthy all winter long, here’s what you need to look out for.

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Warm, but dry air

Once the temps start to drop, we start heating our indoor spaces – thank goodness! We couldn’t survive the winter without these cozy safe havens. But there’s a catch.

This warm air is usually dry air. And this dry air can be a problem. Whether it’s the air blowing into your home, or the warm air blowing into your car, it can seriously dry out your skin.

You may think the cold weather is the reason for your chapped lips and flaky skin. And that’s certainly one part of it. But often the dry air isn’t helping.

To combat dry air, consider running a humidifier in your home. You should also look into cosmetic products that really amp up the hydration for your skin and lips to prevent cracking, chapping, peeling and flaky.

Dehydration

In the summer, nothing is more appealing than a tall glass of water. But in the winter, we’re just not as thirsty, and we usually forget to drink enough water.

This, along with the dry air and freezing temps, can lead to sullen-looking skin, dry skin, chapped lips, slower digestion and more toxic buildup in our systems.

You might not want to drink the requisite eight glass of water per day. But here’s an idea: instead of drinking your water, eat your water.

That’s right. There are lots of vegetables that have a high water content and this will keep you hydrated in a delicious way. What kind of foods are we talking about?

Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, and so much more.

Another tip to staying hydrated during the winter is to avoid caffeine. Why? It’s a diuretic and actually makes you lose water, rather than retain it.

Fresh air and respiratory issues

We spend a lot of money to heat our homes. And the last thing we want to do is open the windows and let all that warm air out. But keeping your house shut up all winter long is asking for trouble.

Toxins can build up in the air, including volatile organic compounds, mold spores, dust, smoke, viruses, and bacteria. If this is the air you breathe, day in and day out, expect to have some health issues.

Indoor spaces should not be the reason we get sick, so, try to open the windows and get fresh air regularly.

Home ventilation

Heat recovery ventilators (HRV) are usually built inside new homes. They help to prevent condensation, mold and icky air quality. If your home doesn’t have one, consider getting one. It can seriously improve your home air quality and keep everyone healthier.

After all, during the winter time, the risk of suffering from respiratory illness seems to increase exponentially. Let’s not make it worse by having poor in-house ventilation.

Heating system problems

If you turn on the heat without cleaning your ducts and vents first, you could easily blast all of summer and fall’s dusty buildup into your home air.

So, with the newly warm air, you’re also breathing in things like mold spores, dust, and air-born toxins. If you haven’t cleaned your ducts and vents yet, try to do that ASAP.

Gas ovens: what you should know

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Do you use a gas oven? This usually isn’t a problem during the warmer months, when your house is opened up and there’s more air circulation. However, gas stoves emit odorless and colorless emissions that can lead to health problems.

For one thing, they can lead to inflammation of the lungs, and they can exacerbate allergy symptoms.

Another concern is carbon monoxide poisoning. The initial symptoms are feeling breathless and having headaches. But over time, this can get worse and lead to fatigue, as well as feeling dizzy and nauseous.

To prevent this, always be sure to turn on the fan while cooking or baking. Secondly, try to open the windows after cooking to replenish the air.

Finally, invest in a simple CO detector. It’s an easy way to protect young your family from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Condensation in the house

Do you have weepy windows? That is, windows covered in condensation? This indicates that your home has high humidity levels, and while that seems like a harmless issue, it’s definitely something you want to address.

Warm, humid areas are the perfect environment for mold to grow. And with mold, comes a slew of health problems, like increased allergies, fatigue, headaches, and symptoms similar to asthma.

If you notice condensation on the windows, consider getting a dehumidifier. You can also dry the wet surfaces as soon as possible, and also look for any mold growth. Clean it up immediately to protect the quality of your air and stay healthy.

Home invasions: you’re not the only one staying warm

Your home is so nice and cozy that it just might be the perfect place for common pests to take up residence for the winter. What kind of critters? Mice can fit through openings as small as a dime, so be sure to seal off any openings.

Cockroaches are another gem, so keep your house clean – especially the bathroom and kitchen, where they like to hang out.

Spiders also find their way inside and tend to like quiet, undisturbed places, like your closets, attics, basements and storage spaces. So, try to store things in plastic bins and containers. This can at least make spiders more visible if they do make their way inside.

The last possible critter to enter your home is a raccoon, although this is mostly a problem in the cold areas of North Eastern United States. Raccoons usually come in through the attics or chimneys in search of a warm den. Keep your trash safely stored and also make sure your home doesn’t have any access points for raccoons.

As you can see, winter comes with its own set of challenges. But don’t worry, now that you know what many of them are, you can make your home a safe, warm and healthy place to enjoy all winter long.

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