I realize that snow in December is not shocking for many of my northern neighbors, but in Galveston, Texas, snow at anytime is a shocker. I also know that most people know the common sense tips for staying healthy in cold weather:
*Avoid going outdoors in extreme cold unless absolutely necessary. This is especially important for children and the elderly.
*Dress warmly, and in layers, to avoid overheating during exertion.
* Most body heat is lost through your head, so wear a warm hat that covers the ears.
*Mittens provide more warmth to your hands than gloves.
*Wear insulated, waterproof boots to prevent frostbite and to keep firm footing on snow and ice.
*Stay hydrated and well fed during outdoor activities.
*Be aware that some cold weather activities, such as snow shoveling, may place a strain on the heart from overexertion.
*Pay attention to the weather forecast and be prepared for a sudden change in the weather.
A few days ago it was 79 degrees here on the balmy Gulf. Most of the island residents are unprepared, and many don't have heat in their homes. (Of course, many don't have homes after Hurricane Ike, but that's another story.) For this reason, I have developed a very special set of
COLD WEATHER TIPS FOR GULF COAST RESIDENTS
*Don't surf if there is snow on the beach.
*Dress warmly, in layers. A bikini AND shorts do not constitute layers. A winter coat is required.
*Most body heat is lost through the head, so wear a warm hat. A ballcap, regardless of decoration, does not qualify as a warm hat.
*Wear gloves or mittens or socks or anything warm that you can put on your hands. Do not bother to go to the local WalMart to find snow gloves. They do not have any. They do have small plastic packets called "hand warmers" that will warm hands nicely.
*Flip flops are not proper snow footwear. Wading boots are not proper snow footwear. Cowboy boots are not proper snow footwear. Tennis shoes are not proper snow footwear. Your hunting boots will do.
*Drink plenty of water. Avoid alcohol during snow-related outdoor recreation. The alcohol may temporarily make you feel warmer, but it actually causes you to lose heat faster. Passing out in the snow on the beach will also make you lose heat faster.
*Don't let your kids stay outside until the snow melts. They don't control body temperature as well as adults.
*Call and check on your mama. Older folks don't control body temperature very well, either.
*Don't try to shovel the snow, especially with the garden hoe. It will all be melted in a few hours anyway.
*Enjoy this moment. Never before has a hurricane destroyed the island and been followed ninety days later by a snowstorm.
Photo courtesy of Catrena Hughes