In a chaotic and tumultuous year, it’s easy to feel like things are out of your control. However, one thing you can control is preparing for the upcoming season and the challenges it may bring. In Montana, winter brings opportunities for snowy recreation and holiday celebrations, but it also brings the risk of illness, behavioral health issues, and winter storms. Even during a time when we’re all more conscious of health and safety than normal, many of the same precautions apply when it comes to keeping yourself safe and healthy this winter.
Community Health Partners is here to help, providing access to services and local resources that can help you put your best foot forward this winter to better protect yourself and your family. Here are some of the most effective ways to prepare for winter weather this year.
These may include routine check-ups, physicals, annual exams, dental exams, or other preventative care. Keeping up with your appointments allows you to spot any potential health issues before they become serious problems, which is a benefit any time of year. But as we move into winter and many people's immune systems are a bit more compromised, it's even more important. Many preventative care services are free under the Affordable Care Act, so take advantage and schedule an appointment with your neighborhood community health clinic without worrying about cost.
While children require a number of vaccines to ward off viruses, vaccinations are necessary for adults, too. Most importantly, the CDC recommends that anyone 12 years and older get one of the COVID-19 vaccinations to protect against the virus. In addition, the CDC recommends that all adults receive the seasonal flu (influenza) vaccination each year. Other vaccines, such as the Tdap vaccine (Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) or the HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) vaccine, are also recommended at various intervals and life stages. Vaccines can prevent illnesses, including the flu, keeping your immune system strong and ready to combat illnesses that vaccines cannot prevent.
This is one of the most effective ways to keep yourself healthy and prime your immune system for anything harmful that may come its way. Consuming nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables can improve the functioning of your immune system. Getting regular exercise (around three times per week) can reduce stress, prevent inflammation and chronic disease, and accelerate the circulation of disease-fighting white blood cells (WBCs), which help the body fight common colds.
According to the Sleep Foundation, “sleep deprivation has an adverse effect on immune function, and chronic sleep loss can increase an individual’s vulnerability to infectious diseases.” Regardless of how busy you are, make time – at least 7 hours each night – to sleep. If you struggle with falling asleep, try developing good sleep habits and a sleep routine that you do each night before bed.
With pervasive fear and uncertainty in our world right now, managing stress may be easier said than done, but there are things you can do to minimize stress. Aside from self-care measures such as eating well, getting exercise, and sleeping, behavioral health resources and specialists are also available to you. CHP offers licensed counselors and psychiatric nurse practitioners to help you manage a variety of stressors in your life when self-help measures aren’t quite enough.
Keep your family healthy and safe from the elements by preparing your home to keep out the cold temperatures. Insulate any water lines that run along exterior walls so your water supply will be less likely to freeze. Insulate your walls and attic spaces: caulk and weather-strip doors and windows. You can find more winter weatherizing tips here. These preparation steps can protect you and your home from potential cold-weather impacts. Need help with warm shelter, clothing or paying your heat bills? Check out these resources available in Montana.
In Montana, winter emergencies do happen. Create a plan among the members of your household that everyone can agree to execute if a winter storm hits. Create an emergency kit for both your car and home, and keep an emergency supply of food and medications in your home in case a winter event should require you to stay indoors for a period of time.
For further information about how to prepare for the winter in Montana, contact your local CHP clinic and set up an appointment. You can also click below to set up a wellness check and keep your health on track this winter.