By Hayley Hervieux

Texas is a place of weather extremes. In the summer, heat is often in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, while in the winter, places such as the Panhandle can easily reach temperatures far below freezing. Texas is so well-known for its heat that this impression often leaves us unprepared for winter, especially in areas further south where winters are typically mild. But when it comes to keep safe and warm during the winter months, prevention is key. Those of us living in Texas still have a little while to wait, so now’s the time to start preparing for the cold winter months ahead.

frozen Texas cactusHere’s some advice to keep you healthy and warm throughout the season.

  1. ‘Tis the season for cold and flu. Most illness hits Texas between December and February, the coldest time of the year. The state health department advises that everyone over six months get a yearly flu vaccine. Want to know more? Find a place to get vaccinated, get more information, or test your knowledge.
  2. Winter weather can affect the body in many different ways. Days are shorter and darker in the winter which causes your brain to produce more sleep inducing hormones. The Winter Blues is a common affliction, so exercise, eat a healthy diet with plenty of nutrients and vitamins, get some sun, and get regular sleep. Getting up and out will be beneficial for mind and body. Don’t forget to be social!
  3. There’s more than one reason for a healthy diet. Eat regularly to keep warmer during the winter. Now is not the time for extreme dieting; your body needs fuel to keep warm. Drink plenty of hot liquids, and eat at least one hot meal a day.
  4. Sometimes, a jacket won’t cut it. When it comes to keeping warm, layer clothes. This works better than one very thick layer of warm clothing. And if you want to save on heating, dressing warmly around the house will help.
  5. Don’t skimp. It can be very tempting to go to extremes to save on heating in the winter. But when it comes to your health, don’t take shortcuts. Experts advise that keeping rooms between 65 and 70 degrees to prevent winter illnesses. Of course, that’s no reason not to do it smart: You can be selective in which rooms to warm when. If you have trouble paying for heating, there are programs that can help.
  6. Winter preparedness starts at home. Ready your house: check your insulation, reverse your fan blades, and consider a programmable thermostat. Find more ways to save.

Lastly, but most important, when it comes to winter health and safety, just use common sense. Keep track of the weather, and know when it is advisable to go outside and when it is not. Prepare ahead of time for emergencies. Keep things in your car such as nonperishable foods, warm blankets and clothing, and flashlights, in addition to your typical emergency kit.

Even in Texas, winter can be serious business. As the old saying goes: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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