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Winter Weather

banner graphic_winter weather_1.10.17

While winters are generally mild in Harris County, we do experience cold weather in our area. Many of us aren’t prepared for emergencies or aren’t aware of health hazards that may occur. We’re sharing tips so you, your loved ones and your furry friends can stay safe, healthy and warm during the winter season.

Click here to view or print Winter Weather Tips
Home and Car
Prepare your home:
  • Install weather stripping and insulation
  • Insulate water lines that run along exterior walls
  • Protect faucets and pipes (indoors and outdoors)
  • Clean gutters and repair roof leaks
  • Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys
  • Install a smoke detector
  • Test batteries monthly
  • Drain water sprinkler supply lines
  • Bring plants inside or wrap them before a freeze
Protect yourself from Carbon Monoxide poisoning
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector and check batteries regularly
  • Don't use unvented gas or kerosene heaters in enclosed spaces
  • Keep grills, camp stoves, and generators outside
  • Locate generators at least 20 feet from the house
Prepare your car: 
  • Keep gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank
  • Use a wintertime formula in your windshield washer
  • Prepare a winter emergency kit to keep in your car:
    • Blankets
    • Food and water
    • Cables, flares, tire pump, and a bag of sand or cat litter (for traction)
    • Flashlight, battery-powered radio, and extra batteries
    • First aid kit
    • Plastic bags
Prepare for an emergency:
  • Stock water and non-perishable foods
  • Ensure that electrical devices are fully charged, like your cell phone
  • When traveling, be aware of weather forecast
  • Keep an up-to-date emergency kit:
    • Battery-operated devices - flashlight and NOAA Weather Radio
    • Extra batteries
    • First aid kit, extra medicine 
    • Baby items
    • Cat litter or sand for icy walkways
Helpful Links:
Pet Safety

Protect your pets:

Inside pets:
  • Take pets for frequent walks but limit long-term exposure to the outdoors during winter months-indoor pets don't develop a thick winter coat.
  • Thin-coated animals benefit from sweaters when outdoors.
  • Just like us, indoor pets may suffer from dry skin in the winter. Talk to your veterinarian about products that will help.
Outside pets:
  • Use roomy, draft-free dog houses, raised off the ground.
  • Change bedding frequently to keep it clean and dry
  • Provide plenty of clean drinking water.
  • Don’t let the water in water bowls freeze and keep the water accessible
  • Puppies, kittens, and elderly animals should never be exposed to the cold.
  • Take your pet to an emergency pet clinic or to your vet for frozen toes and ears. Do not use hot water on frozen extremities, as it may cause even more damage.
Cats
  • Keep cats inside and honk your car horn before starting the engine. Loose cats sometimes curl up on the hood of a car to keep warm.
All pets:
  •  Feed your pet a bit more to provide necessary calories. Cold temperatures require animals to  burn more calories to stay warm.
  •  Antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your  car, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol.
  •  Bring your pet inside in weather that you don’t want to be in. If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably  too cold for your pet. 
Mental Well-being

Don’t abandon healthy habits
  • Stick to a healthy routine
  • Follow a balanced diet
  • Fit exercise into your day to burn calories and reduce stress
  • Add laughter to your life
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Wash your hands often
  • Take time to relax
Seek professional help if needed:
  • If you feel more anxious, unable to sleep, hopeless, and unable to face routine chores, talk with your doctor, especially if the feelings become severe.
Seasonal Affective Disorder and the winter blues:
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is associated with depression and the reduction of daylight hours. It usually lifts during spring and summer.
  •  About 1 in 20 Americans, mainly women, experience SAD. It is first diagnosed in people aged 18-30  
Symptoms
  • Withdrawn
  • Low energy
  • Oversleeping
  • Weight gain
  • Lack of interest in physical contact
Causes

As seasons change, there is a shift in our "biological internal clocks" due partly to changes in sunlight patterns. A loss of serotonin (a neurotransmitter that regulates mood) and an increase in melatonin (a sleep-related hormone) have been also been linked to SAD.

Treatments
  • Light therapy – the use of a special "light box" every day delivers a dose of light many times brighter than typical indoor lighting.
  • Antidepressant medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) alone, or with light therapy that is managed by a medical professional
  • Proper exercise and diet. Spend time outdoors during the day as much as possible or bring more light into your home and workplace.
  • Discuss your symptoms with your health care provider for the best treatment for you. Get enlightened!
Helpful Link: