STAY Safe in Extreme Cold

Those living in certain places of the world like the upper Midwest United States, Canada and Russia expect cold and snow as part of their normal yearly weather cycle. But a Polar Vortex has individuals living in these places and many others experiencing frigid temperatures thatCold Weather present even the most seasoned cold-weather dwellers with a need to plan more than usual for safety in extreme cold.

To help create the proper mindset, keep the word “stay” in mind for managing life in extreme cold temperatures (anything near or below freezing).

STAY Aware

  • Regularly watch local weather reports, especially paying attention to windchill temperatures and storm warnings.
  • Know the warning signs of hypothermia and frostbite and be educated on what to do should either occur.
  • Keep road conditions in mind at all times, and adjust driving speed accordingly since getting stranded in extreme cold is especially dangerous.
  • Check the condition of water pipes, doing what you can to keep them from freezing and breaking.
  • Know when going outside is a bad idea, and stay inside as much as possible.
  • Realize that cold affects the elderly and the very young more quickly and more severely, so make sure they stay out of extreme cold and check in on them often.
  • Don’t forget that extreme cold is dangerous for pets too.
  • Help road crews out, and avoid travel immediately after heavy snowfalls.

STAY Prepared

  • Have a week’s worth of food and water should weather conditions prevent a trip to the store.
  • Have a well-stocked Winter Home Emergency Supply Kit at home and a Winter Emergency Car Kit in trunks of all vehicles, and check them regularly to make sure they stay well-supplied.
  • Insulate pipes if freezing is a concern, and know what to do if pipes freeze .
  • Make sure all vehicles are properly winterized with gas tanks kept always at least half full.
  • Keep sunglasses handy when driving, especially when clouds clear and the sun starts reflecting off the snow.
  • Always travel with a fully-charged cell phone should you become stranded and need to call for help.
  • Let others know your specific travel plans (route, timing, etc.), so you can get help as soon as possible should your vehicle break down or get stuck in the snow.

STAY Warm & Dry

  • If you need to go outside, remember that the chances of hypothermia increase when clothing is wet.
  • Wear several loose-fitting layers, including water-repellent gear.
  • Keep in mind that sweating dampens clothes, and that wet clothing can lower body temperature and contribute to hypothermia.
  • Remove wet clothing as soon as possible, having spares available when you know you’ll be outside.
  • Remember to keep extremities covered as they are more susceptible to frostbite.
  • Don’t forget to cover your mouth also, since extreme cold can hurt the lungs.
  • Especially in extreme temperatures caused by windchill, cover every part of skin since frostbite can occur in a matter of minutes.
  • Be sure to dress in layers, which traps warm air that acts as insulation.
  • Wear a hat since 40% of body heat can escape through the head.
  • Keep hands warm and functional at the same time by choosing the proper gloves for use in extreme cold.
  • Make sure heating sources are adequately fueled and maintained at all times.

Prevention still remains the best solution for surviving extreme cold temperatures no matter where you live. When frigid arctic air decides to stick around for any length of time, STAY healthy and safe by preventing emergencies whenever possible and by knowing the best course of action when they do happen.

“You’ll shoot your eye out, Mom!”

Over the years, parents have warned their children countless times to be careful with objects that pose an obvious threat to their eyes, including things like BB guns and scissors. Now it’s the parents’ turn to hear a similar warning regarding champagne corks as well as those from sparkling champagnewine and juice.

Turns out, a flying cork really could take out a person’s eye. Not really surprising since a corked champagne bottle has 3x the pressure of a car tire and comes out of the bottle at 60mph.

A cork, being the perfect size to fit in a person’s eye socket, can cause a corneal abrasion (scratch to the surface of the eye), retinal detachment and even permanent blindness as it flies out of a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine or juice.

Because of the fairly common occurrence of these injuries, especially during the holidays, the American Academy of Ophthalmology issued a public service warning reminding of the dangers and providing tips on how to avoid shooting your eye out with a champagne cork.

  1. Keep the bottle chilled since pressure can build more in a warm bottle.
  2. Avoid shaking the bottle, which only increases the pressure and the cork speed.
  3. Place a towel over the top of the bottle to keep corks from launching into the air.
  4. Watch your aim by pointing the bottle away from people.
  5. Hold the cork and twist the bottle instead of the other way around.
  6. Never use a corkscrew, which basically makes a cork an even more dangerous projectile.

To make sure you get a kiss along with your bubbly instead of a trip to the emergency room to ring in the New Year, plan to use these tips for safely opening that bottle of bubbly when the clock strikes midnight.

Decorative Contact Lenses

From athletes to actors and Halloween costumes to fashion accessories, decorative contacts lenses have caught the eyes of many people. Whether looking for a competitive edge, wanting to get in character, putting the finishing touches on your desired look, or supporting your favorite team decorative-contact-lenses(think team logo on your eyes) many people turn to decorative contact lenses.

While much of their use purely involves visual appeal, with decorative lens sales increasing significantly at Halloween, some professional athletes now use colored contact lenses because they say it improves their athletic performance. Examples include Brian Roberts (second baseman for the Orioles) who has worn tinted contacts during day games to improve visibility and A.J. Pierzynski (White Sox catcher) who wears them in lieu of sunglasses, which can slip, get sweaty and add unwanted bulk. While research has yet to prove that colored contacts do actually improve performance, SIVault reports that many athletes in a variety of sports, including baseball, football and golf, believe they do enhance performance.

Regardless of the reason for wearing them, buying colored contacts is easy these days as they are readily available through many retail stores and on the Internet. Unfortunately, wearing decorative/colored contact lenses could ultimately cost a person their vision.

In an effort to prevent permanent eye damage and possibly blindness, heed the following two rules when purchasing decorative contact lenses:

Rule #1 – Beware of lawbreakers. Contact lenses – whether corrective or not – are regulated by the FDA. Any vendor not requiring a prescription from your eye doctor and asking for your doctor’s contact information is breaking the law. Only buy contacts – prescription or decorative – from a company that is FDA-cleared to sell contact lenses.

Rule #2 – Consult an expert. An eye doctor will make sure contacts fit properly as well as teach you how to properly care for your contacts and in turn your eyes. Your eye doctor can also help you prevent significant eye disease and damage.

To help implement these rules, make sure to include the following non-negotiables when purchasing and wearing decorative (colored) contact lenses:

  1. Individual fit. Contacts, prescription or not, are not one-size-fits all, so don’t share contacts. An eye doctor can help you find lenses that fit your eyes, thus reducing the chance of damage to the eye from improper fit. Contacts that don’t fit right can scratch the eye, cause an infection and decrease vision. All of these can lead to loss of vision and blindness.
  2. Proper care. Read and follow the instructions that should come with your contacts as well as those given to you by your eye doctor. Taking care of your contacts and eyes will go a long way in preventing significant inconvenience, health care cost, and even permanent – and preventable – issues.
  3. Communication. Tell your eye doctor why you want the contacts, and then be sure to go to any follow-up visits to make sure the lenses fit properly and don’t cause any irritation. Let your eye doctor know of any discomfort – even if seemingly minor – with your contacts since damage to eyes is often cumulative and therefore unnoticeable until the problem becomes severe and causes permanent damage.
  4. A prescription. Getting a prescription from an eye doctor ensures you get the contacts that are right for you. Quality contact retailers will not only ask for this prescription but for your eye doctor’s name and phone number as well.
  5. Awareness. Know the signs of eye damage, which include redness, pain that doesn’t go away and decreased vision. Remove your contacts, and then see an eye doctor immediately if you notice any of these signs of eye damage.

Having eyes like a cheetah or your favorite fashion model may seem fun at the time, but purchasing from an unauthorized seller and leaving your eye doctor out of the mix can not only turn a $30 vacation adventure into $2,000 medical bills (check out Laura’s story) but can result in an agonizing recovery process, partial vision loss and even complete blindness.

Be smart about what you put into your eye to help ensure good eye health for a lifetime.