Baby, it’s cold outside

5 tips for staying healthy when the weather is frightful

Winter has arrived in all of its blustery fury and, as the classic song goes, "Baby, it's cold outside!" Keep the chills away – both the cold-weather and feverish type – with five simple tips for staying hale and healthy until the weather breaks.

  1. Mom was right: Regular hand-washing goes a long way toward chasing away colds and flu. But did you know there's a right way and a wrong way to go about the process? According to the Centers for Disease Control, washing hands the right way means wetting them with running water and soaping up for a minimum of 20 seconds before rinsing and drying with a clean towel.  If soap and water aren't available, use a hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of at least 60 percent. Remember, though, that hand sanitizer isn't as effective as old-fashioned soap and water. It eliminates some germs, but not all of them.1
  2. Keep things light – as in bright and well-lit – to stave off Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD. It's a condition that's also known as winter depression because it generally disappears when the snow melts and spring leaves appear. If you're among the 10 million Americans with a bad case of the winter blues, it may be caused by shorter days and lack of sunlight.2 Bundle up and seek the sun or consider purchasing a special lamp that emulates sunshine.
  3. Toss your toothbrush if you've been ill. Germs can hide in the bristles, leading to reinfection after a cold, the flu, a mouth infection or a sore throat. Even if you haven't been sick, fungus and bacteria can develop in the bristles of your toothbrush, giving you another reason to change your toothbrush regularly. Oh – and to prevent germs from traveling from toothbrush to toothbrush, try to keep your brush from touching those of others.
  4. Decrease your odds of a serious winter illness by having a flu shot. Many employers offer them to workers free of charge as part of their wellness programs, and others provide insurance that allows workers to be vaccinated free or for a nominal charge. Flu shots are especially important for older workers, who may be more vulnerable to contagious diseases. They're also critical for new mothers and pregnant women because not only do they protect mom, they also pass antibodies to the baby.
  5. Be prepared for cold and flu season. WebMD recommends stocking your medicine cabinet with the medicines you use, such as pain relievers, fever reducers and decongestants. Don't forget tissues, and make sure your thermometer works. At the supermarket, load up on fluids, herbal tea and comfort foods such as chicken soup.

Here's a final thought: Sometimes winter illnesses go away with rest, over-the-counter drugs or prescription medication. But other times they linger and turn into more serious illnesses, including pneumonia, that require hospitalization. Voluntary insurance policies, such as hospital confinement sickness indemnity insurance, can help with expenses resulting from a hospital stay caused by illness. Take a look at the policies that are available to you and consider applying for those that best meet your family’s needs and financial circumstances.


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Hand-washing: Clean hands save lives," accessed Nov. 21, 2013 -
2 Psychology Today, "Seasonal Affective Disorder," accessed Nov. 21, 2103 -

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a solicitation.