Health

Jumpin’ for Joy on a Snow Day (While Staying Safe and Sound)

Cool ways to be smart, healthful, happy, and well-prepared in this blizzard

While some areas that might have gotten hit hard by winter storm Stella are breathing a sigh of relief Tuesday, other areas across the Northeast are holed up during the all-day blizzard that weather people have been talking about for days now.

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There is flooding in some areas, and thousands of flights have been cancelled or delayed nationwide as a result of the storm — par for the course.

To get through this weather event safely (and keep your sanity!), here are some smart tips from trusted sources.

Dr. Laxmi Mehta, a cardiologist with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, shared these tips about show shoveling and safety:

Take it slow. Shoveling isn’t a race. Warm up before beginning and then start off by moving just small amounts of snow. Take frequent breaks as needed.

Get water first. Since you lose fluids while shoveling, be sure to hydrate before you begin. Dehydration can put extra strain on the heart.

Skip the coffee. Caffeine is a heart stimulant — and you’ll already be giving the heart a workout by shoveling.

Eat lightly. Avoid eating a heavy meal before shoveling: Blood is diverted to the stomach, putting additional strain on the heart.

And here are other smart tips for keeping yourself and your family prepared in the storm, whether you’re at home, work, or on the road, some of this from the folks at Homesite Insurance:

Charge your electronic devices. Make sure your cellphone, laptop and any other electronic devices are charged up and your backup travel chargers as well. If the power goes out, this may be your only way to contact someone. Once those devices are charged, try not to overuse them so that the batteries last until the storm clears.

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Keep your car off the road. Slick conditions and reduced visibility are always a risk, and very few deadlines or errands take precedence over safety. If you do find yourself stranded on the road somewhere, run the engine only about 10 minutes every hour to keep the car warm. Crack the window periodically and make sure the tailpipe is not blocked by snow; this will prevent deadly amounts of carbon monoxide from accumulating in the car.

Make sure the kids are dressed warmly if and when they go out. Their goal is sledding, snowball fights, snow forts, and tons of other fun activities in this last blast of winter weather before spring — and all of that is great. Just be sure they’re dressed appropriately and that they follow your safety rules. That includes protecting their faces and hands from the bitter cold and ice.

Be prepared if you lose power and/or heat. Having an emergency supply kit on hand at all times is a great idea; for blizzards in particular, this can be life-saving. Candles, matches, flashlights, batteries, warm clothes for everyone and non-perishable food are important to include. You need bottled water on hand, too. To preserve heat in the event of a power outage, close off any vents in rooms that you aren’t using, and cover any cracks under doors or windows with a towel to keep cold air from seeping in.

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Watch your roof.  The average roof should be able to hold about 20 pounds of pressure per square foot — and a foot of fresh snow is equal to about 5 pounds per square foot. This means it will take about four feet of snow to cause significant stress to your roof. Keep a snow rake on hand if you live in areas that get a heavy amount of winter snow routinely, or consider hiring a professional to come in and remove snow from your roof.

Also, when possible, check on your neighbors. Ask for help shoveling or clearing your drive if you have any sort of heart condition. And remember that snow days can be a great opportunity to slow down for a bit, recharge, interact with the kids — and get a little extra rest.

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