Be prepared for winter to avoid cold weather risks

WINTER is just around the corner. Some believe it may already be here. With the cold weather comes an increased risk of colds, flu and other illnesses. Some people have already come down with severe colds or flu.

WINTER is just around the corner. Some believe it may already be here. With the cold weather comes an increased risk of colds, flu and other illnesses. Some people have already come down with severe colds or flu.

If you are not already prepared for winter, it would be a good idea to start preparing now. Cold weather increases your chances  not only of colds and flu but of a sore throat, painful joints and respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Those who suffer from asthma may be at increased risk of an asthma attack.

Because low temperature increases blood pressure there is also an increased risk of a heart attack when temperatures are low. In extreme cold there may be a risk of hypothermia and frostbite.

Those who are homeless and those who live in poorly insulated or cold homesare particularly vulnerable to winter illnesses.

Infants younger than one year old lose body heat more easily than adults. Adults over 65 are more susceptible to extremely cold temperatures due to their slow metabolism and often low levels of physical activity.

Low levels of physical activity also make people with some physical disabilities vulnerable.

Preparing for winter

Keeping warm through wearing warm clothing and keeping the house warm offer the best protection against winter illnesses.

It follows, therefore, that to be prepared for the colder months it is necessary to ensure you have warm clothing available and the means to keep your house warm, such as through heaters, as well as adequate blankets for your bed at night.

Some newly built houses have underfloor heating. It is worth considering this for future winters if you are building or about to build a house and can afford to incorporate this. Try to ensure the house is well insulated as well.

Keeping the windows closed or closing them after having left them open for long enough to allow fresh air in  and germs out is one of the obvious ways of keeping your house warm. Allow them to let in natural sunlight, however.

If you do not have a fireplace or are adverse to lighting a fire, fan and oil heaters with thermostats are relatively cheap small space heating options.

Although keeping windows closed helps keep the house warm, it is good to open the windows periodically to let out any germs that may be around in the house. Otherwise if one person catches a cold it may easily spread to others.

Opening for a while windows in rooms not currently in use, such as bedrooms during the day, should not affect the warmness of the rest of the house.

Keeping physically active and maintaining a well-balanced nutritious diet is important as well.

Keeping warm and healthy

The first thing you should do is start changing your summer wardrobe to your winter one. Swop the shorts for jeans and the t-shirts for sweaters. Dress in layers of clothing to trap warmth, especially when going out. Keeping your head and neck covered will help prevent heat loss.

Putting extra blankets on your bed will help you keep warm at night.  A hot water bottle also helps you keep warm.

If you have an electric blanket, turn it onto its highest setting 20 to 30 minutes before getting into bed.

Turn it off before you get into bed. It is not advisable to keep it on while you are in bed. If you do, then put it on a low setting. Do not use an electric blanket and hot water bottle at the same time.

Make the most of the winter sun to obtain your daily dose of vitamin D. Adequate vitamin D is crucial for bone health. Apart from sunlight, other sources of vitamin D include fortified cereals, low-fat dairy products such as yoghurt and cheese, fish and eggs.

Get lots of fresh air and exercise. Not only will you be avoiding all those cold and flu germs that may be floating about indoors but you will also be burning kilojoules and body fat.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps fend off germs that cause colds and flu. Sources of  vitamin C include oranges, grapefruit, cauliflower, chillies, tomatoes and spinach.

You can also make a healthy smoothie for breakfast or lunch in order to boost your immune system and stay healthy.

Eat warm meals

On cold winter days, consuming warm food and hot drinks helps warm the body. Warm foods such as soups, stews and spicy dishes contribute to increasing body temperature and providing a sense of warmth.

Warm food aids in stimulating the digestion process. Your body requires additional energy to digest hot food, which increases the activity of the digestive system and promotes proper digestion.

Warm foods and hot drinks often contain components that boost the immune system. Herbs and spices used in cooking carry anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, enhancing your immune system.

Warm food also provides the energy needed to endure the cold and face daily challenges in winter. Nutrient-rich foods such as protein and healthy fats help boost energy levels.

Hot beverages such as tea, coffee and hot chocolate have a calming effect. Consuming them in cold times and relaxing proves effective in relieving stress and psychological pressure.


It is important to remain physically active even in winter. If you manage to brace yourself for the cold and do some exercise outside, such as a morning walk or jog, this will undoubtedly be beneficial. Indoors you are likely to spend much of your time sitting or even staying in bed.

If an outdoor activity does not appeal to you, try working out at home.  Try to exercise for 30 minutes per day at least three times per week. If you fail to do this, then at least keep your body moving as much as you can.

Be sure to be active and move around. Exercise will increase your energy, improve your mood and help manage your weight. It will help keep you healthy.

Be prepared

Despite our best efforts to remain healthy in winter, It is likely that someone in our family may catch a cold or develop a sore throat or cough. It would be wise to ensure that you have available for such eventualities  over-the-counter medication that can deal with the symptoms of colds and flu, as well as throat lozenges and cough mixture. Be prepared and do your best to remain healthy and illness-free this winter.

  • The information in this article is provided as a public service by the Cimas iGo Wellness programme, which is designed to promote good health. It is provided for general information only and should not be construed as medical advice. Readers should consult their doctor or clinic on any matter related to their health or the treatment of any health problem. — [email protected] or WhatsApp 0772 161 829 or phone 024-2773 0663


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