There is so much to love about the winter time. Of course, there are the holidays to enjoy, and in January we’ll get to ring in an entirely new year and start fresh. The cold winter temperatures give us a break from the sweat-inducing heat of summer, and there’s nothing better than curling up next to the fireplace with a good book. However, there is a certain amount of risk that comes with the winter season, precisely because temperatures can be so extreme. If you live in one of the balmier areas of the world, like California or Florida, you might not have to think about the dangers that come with winter weather. However, there is a great deal more to worry about than you might think. Even something as seemingly simple as a DIY gutter cleaning can be a lot riskier during the winter. Each year, countless people are rushed to the hospital because of accidents that occur during the winter. Some of them make it home — but others don’t.
While you shouldn’t be afraid of enjoying the winter — by all means, enjoy it–you do need to be aware of some safety precautions to take, whether you’re hanging out at home or braving the great outdoors. The more careful you are during the winter, the less likely it will be that you or someone you care about gets unnecessarily hurt. After all — a bad fall during the winter after a DIY gutter cleaning could put you out of commission for everything you’d like to do once it warms up again!
Winterizing The Home: Should You Do It On Your Own?
An important part of getting ready for winter is prepping your home for the damage that snow and ice can do. This is sometimes referred to as winterizing the house. Now, there are things you can do on your own. For one thing, you’ll want to adjust your thermostat, while keeping in mind the cost of extra energy usage during the winter. On that same note, you should go through your home and inspect places through which heat can escape, ensuring that you’re not losing any more than you absolutely must. It’s always a good idea to periodically seal off your house, and when you’re doing so, you might as well work with a professional company that can handle all of your winterizing needs — that way, you won’t find yourself slipping and falling on a patch of ice during a DIY gutter cleaning.
Yes, it does cost money to hire professionals to handle that would-be DIY gutter cleaning for you — but during the winter in particular, it’s worth to put the money into ensuring that a job is done correctly and safely. Yes, your gutters need to be cleaned at least twice a year, but those cleanings won’t be very effective if they’re both done during the warmer months. You may know how to carry out a DIY gutter cleaning during the summer. But during the winter, everything becomes a bit more complicated. Ice is, of course, any homeowner’s biggest concern. One wrong move and you could find yourself with a permanent injury, and if you’re handling that DIY gutter cleaning on your own, you could easily freeze to death if the temperatures are low enough, far before anyone realizes what happened. Of course, that is the worst case scenario; but why risk it? Even the steps you might take to make your home safer and more efficient could lead to potential disaster if you aren’t careful. You may want to start using your fireplace in the winter, to heat your home while expending less energy. But if you do so without taking proper fire protection measures beforehand, you could end up in much more trouble than you asked for.
For that matter, there is, on a practical level, so much to worry about when you’re winterizing your home. You don’t just need to carry out DIY gutter cleanings, but things like fire sprinkler maintenance, installing energy efficient appliances when possible, and prepping your garage for the winter months. You could easily end up spending a lot of money and time on winter preparations because it’s simply not your area of expertise. Professionals, on the other hand, know how to keep your expenses steady and realistic, while at the same time carrying out these tedious tasks so that you don’t have to. The fact is that winter preparation is unavoidable but time-consuming. You don’t want to lose any more time energy to it by making a mistake. Therefore, let the professionals take care of expert installations and regular maintenance. That way, you won’t have to worry about issues like your fire alarm system malfunctioning in the middle of a crisis because it wasn’t properly prepared for winter. Nor do you need to be concerned about potentially hurting yourself during a DIY gutter cleaning.
Roaming Outdoors: How Careful Do You Need To Be?
Now that we’ve discussed the unexpected perils of winterizing your home and DIY gutter cleanings, let’s look into what can happen when you venture outside your house. Now, winter isn’t a time when you necessarily need to stay cooped all day. In fact, this can negatively affect your mental health, which needs to be monitored just as carefully as your physical health. So it’s important to get out and about during the winter months, even if you’re dealing with harsher weather than expected. Of course, if you want to do so, you need to make sure that you’re dealing with the right equipment. All too many people attempt to drive everywhere as they always would during the winter, which is why you may sometimes hear about issues regarding people getting stranded in the snow during the winter. At times, there is no avoiding driving in the snow and ice — but if you do, make sure that you have the proper winter tires, and your battery is fully charged. For that matter, keep your trunk fully stocked with the equipment that you may need in case of an emergency.
Once you’re out and about in the countryside, you’ll want to work with the right equipment and ensure that it’s properly working. If you wish to try your hand at snowmobiling, for example, that’s all well and good. But first, you should ensure that you have the right kind of snowmobile. Don’t buy a machine that is of lower quality, or buy it from a private seller just because it’s cheaper. You’ll regret it once that snowmobile fails while you’re out on the slopes. Stick to well-known brands, like Arctic Cat; and once you do that, make sure you’re buying from a reliable, well-recommended Arctic Cat dealer, versus some stranger online. With that being said, if you’re trying to work with a snowmobile for the first time — or any other piece of winter sports equipment — you shouldn’t do so alone. There is always a risk of injuring yourself in the process.
A wintertime DIY gutter cleaning isn’t the only ill-advised task that can get you hurt during the winter! Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to pick up an injury while snowmobiling, ice skating, or skiing. Fortunately, the nature of the snow means that you won’t have to worry about the impact of a fall quite as much. You shouldn’t hold yourself back from having fun; you just need to think when doing so. Not only do you need to make sure that you aren’t alone when engaging in winter sports — you also need to alert people who are at home, and could more easily go to help you. The biggest issue with winter sports injuries is that they can occur when you’re far away from medical care. Keeping your savings account in mind, you may prefer to visit an urgent care center rather than an emergency room. However, if you’re hurt in the dead of winter, you’ll likely need to just hurry to whichever is closest. Having fun outside during the winter is far from impossible, and you should take advantage of a good snow fall when it comes around. But nonetheless, keep in mind the risk beforehand. Compare those types of preparations to those you would do for your house — they’re just as necessary.
Winter Health: What Should I Look Out For?
If we’re discussing winter health and safety, we can’t neglect the importance of taking care of your body during the winter. Just as extreme heat can make you prone to certain health issues during the summer, extreme cold can do the same thing during the winter. There are plenty of specific issues that can happen during the winter time. For one thing, fall and winter happy to overlap with cold and flu season. Keep an eye out for symptoms of those illnesses — sniffles, fevers, body aches, excessive coughing or sneezing. While a cold usually can be taken care of at home, the flu can be much more troubling. Many of us assume that the flu itself is a worse version of the cold, but if you find yourself running a temperature about 102 Fahrenheit, you should probably visit a doctor to make sure that you’re treating yourself properly. It’s best to get those symptoms under control before you find yourself dealing with a more severe health problem than what you had to worry about initially. For that matter, you’ll get much more accurate drug information from professionals than you would when searching for remedies online.
Of course, there are annoying little health issues to worry about during the winter as well. If you’re exceptionally sensitive to the cold, as some people are, you may find yourself more prone to migraines during the winter. You can compare this, in a way, to how some of us react to rushing through a bowl of ice cream. But migraines are a lot more troubling and long-lasting than brain freeze, which means that you should take the steps that you need to prevent the annoyance. Bundle yourself up warmly before going outside, and cover your head with a hat (most of us lose heat through our heads, after all).
We can’t stress enough how important it is for you to use a scarf and gloves along with that hat as well! The fact is that while frostbite seems like something you can only be affected by if you’re out trapped in the wilderness, it can happen any time you’re exposed to excessively cold temperatures for an extended period of time. While minor cases of frostbite can be treated without major effects, it’s certainly painful and nothing that you would want to deal with. Furthermore, it’s rather preventable! In that same vein, you should make sure to stretch and exercise regularly during the winter, to keep your blood flowing.
Your health and safety is your own responsibility. You can’t expect other people to take care of you during the winter months. At the same time, you shouldn’t put yourself in danger over something like a DIY gutter cleaning, when you could spend the money necessary to have the problem taken care of professionally. You must take the proper precautions during the winter — keep an eye on your surroundings, as well as your own body and mind. Make plans, rather than simply acting spontaneously. Don’t let worry drag you down — enjoy your winter! You should still have fun and still do all the things you want to do. Simply do so responsibly.
Author: Caroline Sibley
Caroline is a freelance content creator and creative writer. VCUArts alum with a focus on the arts, travel, and culture.