Winter is Coming

Last updated: April 2023

I spent my entire life in Southern California until the spring of 2017 when my family and I decided to move to the Midwest. While it was a relatively “mild” winter I was told by the locals, it was definitely a shock to my system. This year, we seem to have gone straight from summer to winter with very little fall. We had some snow flurries yesterday although none of it actually stuck and melted as soon as it hit the ground. This morning when I left my house to drive to work at the hospital, I opened the front door and it was 21 degrees (15 degrees colder than yesterday morning) which hit me like a brick to the face. I immediately found it hard to breathe and while I had remembered to put gloves on, I totally forgot to grab a scarf or mask.

I wanted to share some of the tips that I have learned since moving here when it comes to winter and dealing with bitterly cold temperatures. I am in no way a winter veteran and am still learning as winter decided to show up in my area this past week.

Check the forecast

This seems so obvious but it was one that I completely forgot to do. Now that the seasons are changing I will absolutely be checking the weather often. One thing I was told when we first moved to the Midwest was that if we didn't like the weather, just wait fifteen minutes because it will change! Boy oh boy is that true!! Try to plan your trips out of the house (to the grocery store, errands, appointments etc) around the weather when possible.

Be Prepared

Dressing appropriately for freezing cold weather is imperative. Dress in layers! Having a thick scarf that you can wrap around your nose and mouth will make it so much easier to breathe. Breathing through your nose instead of your mouth will help warm the air before it gets to your lungs. There are also some really great face masks that can be used instead of a scarf. Also be sure to have your rescue inhaler with you at all times!

Avoid Sick People

Try your absolute best to avoid people who are sick during the winter months. Flu season is underway and while avoidance is the best solution, it isn't always feasible to not come in contact with people who are sick. It isn't too late to get your flu shot. Be sure to wash your hands properly and frequently! Getting sick is bad enough, but getting sick and having COPD can be extremely dangerous.

Stay Hydrated

People generally associate the importance with staying hydrated with the hot summer months. It is equally as important to stay hydrated when it is brutally cold. The winter air is extremely dry and can dehydrate your body, including your lungs. Drinking water will help keep this from happening.

Check/Replace Heater Filters

Before you turn on your heater for the first time of the season and periodically throughout winter, check the filters and clean or replace them if necessary. The filters trap dust and any debris and can be blown around your home when the heater is on and blowing. Don't forget about car air filters as well!

These are just a few things that I have learned so far after my first winter that are helping me be ready for my second Midwest winter. I would love to hear any tips that you have learned for surviving the winter months!

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