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  • Don't Make These 4 Mistakes While Exercising in the Winter

    I love to run and exercise outside. When it comes to exercise, I’ve managed to do most things wrong. This especially goes for winter exercising. A couple of times, I’ve exercised myself into life-threatening situations. So, based on my experience, here’s what not to do while exercising in winter.

     

    Error 1: Don’t dress for the weather

    Repeat after me. Cotton is bad. When cotton gets wet, it doesn’t dry. Wet clothes lose their ability to insulate, which means they can’t keep you warm.

    closeup feet group athletes running snowy path in woods

    When you exercise, wear synthetic, tight-fitting layers. On your upper body, wear a wicking bottom layer, a warm, synthetic fleece middle layer and a wind- and waterproof outer layer. Different experts estimated you can lose at least 10 percent of body heat from your head, so wear a hat and something around your neck. You can lose as much as 30 percent of body heat through your hands and feet, so wear mittens and consider two pairs of socks: an inner wicking pair and an outer wool pair. Dress for temperatures 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. If you’re warm as you begin exercising, you’re overdressed.

    Winter exercising means dealing with ice, snow, slush, and puddles. Consider wearing trail running shoes or use a waterproof spray on your shoes. If you’ll be walking or running in snow, think about something like YakTrax, a shoe equivalent of a car’s tire chains. Consider trying snowshoeing – many ski rental places will also rent snowshoes.

    I learned the necessity of appropriate dress the hard way when I went on a guided winter mountain climb. I had practically no experience with snow and no synthetic winter gear. I borrowed a nylon track suit and snow boots. However, my t-shirt and long underwear were all cotton. As I climbed, I began to sweat heavily. Every time I stopped to rest, I unzipped my jacket and pulled off my gloves to cool off.

    The year I did the winter mountain climb was unseasonably warm. The snow on the mountain was deep but soft. Every step I took I sank to my thighs. When I wasn’t sinking, I was slipping. Both the exertion and the slipping contributed to my soggy state. Soon, I was shivering and spots on my legs and hands went numb and white. I was exhausted.

     

    Error 2: Stay out in wet weather for too long

    One expert recommended spending no more than 45 minutes running during rain or sleet. Most advised exercising indoors on wet days. All recommended getting into dry clothes as fast as possible after exercising outdoors.

    I did a duathlon (running and biking) in icy rain. I wore the right clothes, but I was slow and ended up soaked and freezing for more than 90 minutes. I began shaking uncontrollably, I was clumsy and my thinking was muddled.

     

    Error 3: Don’t know the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite

    HypothermiaHypothermia occurs when a body’s core temperature drops below 95 degrees, according to WebMD. It’s usually caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, but can occur in moderate temperatures if a person has certain medical conditions or is wet. Symptoms include heavy shivering, confusion, drowsiness, slurred or mumbled speech, loss of coordination and a slow, weak pulse.

    Frostbite occurs when skin and tissue freeze after exposure to cold temperatures, according to the Mayo Clinic. Frostnip is a very mild version of frostbite that can be treated with first aid. Symptoms include off-colored skin, prickling and numbness in the affected area, hard or waxy-looking skin and blisters or swelling after rewarming.

    Both on the mountain and after the duathlon, without knowing it, I developed mild hypothermia. Also on the mountain, without my knowledge, frostnip developed in my hands.

     

    Error 4: Don’t have a buddy

    Fortunately, both on the mountain and after the duathlon, I was with others. On the mountain, two other climbers helped me thaw frozen extremities, climb down, and get home. My future husband was at the duathlon as my cheerleader, and he helped me find dry clothes and get warmed up before driving me home. In both cases I put myself into trouble, but because of others’ assistance, I suffered no lasting ill effects.

     

    Winter exercising can be great. Sunshine provides vitamin D to help with the winter blues. You actually burn more calories when you exercise, because your muscles aren’t as efficient. Exercising strengthens heart muscles and, as long as you don’t overdo it, can help your immune system keep out winter bugs. But take extra precautions to make winter exercising fun and safe. Don’t learn the hard way like I did.

    - Melissa

     

    What are your tips for exercising outside in the winter cold?

     

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  • A Dozen Disasters to Remember 2015: A Year in Review

    The hottest year on record, 2015, showed the need to prepare for a wide variety of disasters. Here are a dozen, and one way to prepare for each.

     

    In January, a measles outbreak that started at Disneyland over the winter break spread to 14 states, infecting 117 people, according to USA Today.

    It started a national discussion about whether or not to vaccinate. It also served as a reminder: An epidemic can start anywhere and spread everywhere.

    How to prepare: Make sure to keep medicine on hand, says ready.gov. This includes nonprescription drugs like pain relievers, stomach settlers and cold medicines, as well as fluids with electrolytes and vitamins. If possible get enough prescription medication to ensure a continuous supply.

     

    8 Feet of Snow - via The Weather NetworkJanuary was almost over when an historic snowstorm clobbered the northeast. The storm, which began January 26, brought more than 30 inches of snow to at least 54 locations from Long Island, N.Y., to Maine, according to weather.com. It also brought blizzards and flooding. And it was only the beginning.

    Through mid-March, storm after storm after storm slammed New England. Boston basically shut down when too much snow clogged transportation arteries. The city eventually recorded a record 110.6 inches of snow for the season. One organization estimated Massachusetts alone lost $1 billion in wages and profits, and the school year stretched until the end of June.

    With the snow came near-record cold. At least six cities had their coldest February recorded. Hundreds of daily temperature records also fell. The cold was fatal for 28 people in seven states, according to NOAA's storm data reported in weather.com.

    How to prepare: Get snow removal equipment, says ready.gov. Get products to melt ice on walkways, sand and snow removal equipment. Andrew Thimmig, who lived in a suburb of Boston during the winter, said get more than one snow shovel – because if the snow’s heavy enough, one will break.

     

    In March, NOAA climatologists announced El Niño’s arrival. This recurring climate phenomenon, characterized by warmer-than-normal water off the equatorial coast of South America, strengthened by December into one of the three strongest on record.

    El Niño can change weather patterns all over the world. In the United States, it often brings especially rainy weather to the southwest and southeast, and warmer weather to the northern plains and northeast.

    How to prepare: Follow the forecasts. If you live in a state like California that tends to see flooding during an El Niño year, consider flood insurance.

     

    Kathmandu Earthquake 01 - ABCOn April 25, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal. The quake and its aftershocks damaged or destroyed almost 900,000 buildings in the capital of Kathmandu and the surrounding regions, according to one report. It also triggered an avalanche on Mt. Everest that killed 19 people. At least 2,100 people died.

    How to prepare: Look around your home. Are mirrors, pictures and heavy furniture secured to the wall? If not, look for kits to do so. Home furnishings store IKEA provides free mounting kits for its larger furniture.

     

    May brought heavy flooding to the plains and southeast. DeWitt, Neb., was evacuated and most of it flooded in a May 6-7 storm. A storm that brought massive flash floods over the Memorial Day weekend killed at least 23 people in three states. In total, at least 40 people died.

    How to prepare: Have a disaster kit ready to grab and go. Emergency Essentials sells several or build your own. Instructions for one are at ready.gov.

     

    The California drought was big news over the summer, after an April 1 snow survey found bare ground in the Sierra Nevada mountain range for the first time. Drought and heat also dominated the discussion in the northwest, which saw June and July temperatures more appropriate for Death Valley, Calif. On July 9, three towns in Washington state tied Death Valley’s 104-degree high, according to weather.com Ten days later, another Washington town hit 107 degrees. At least four deaths in Oregon were attributed to the heat.

    How to prepare: Know first aid. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control site has this list of symptoms for heat-related illnesses and directions for treating them.

     

    In July, the remnant of Hurricane Dolores in the Pacific brought “super historic” rainfall to southern California, according to weather.com. Interstate 10 closed when a bridge collapsed near Desert Center, Calif., and the San Diego Padres saw their first home rainout since 2006.

    How to prepare: Be ready when you travel. Keep your car’s gas tank at least half full in case you get stopped on the road or have to make a detour.

     

    Firefighter - ABC News via ABC News

    July and August saw more than 70 major wildfires in the (mostly) parched west, according to ABC News. The Valley Fire in Northern California burned more than 76,000 acres and destroyed 1,281 homes, according to weather.com. Six people died from fires in California and three more in Washington.

    How to prepare: Have vital information ready to go. A woman who saw the Wenatchee Fire in Washington said some people had just five minutes to evacuate. FEMA provides an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit to help identify records to keep safe. It’s available here.

     

    Blood Moon - Washington Post Blood Moon - via Washington Post

    It wasn’t a disaster, but it’s been considered a harbinger of one. On September 27, a supermoon eclipse briefly turned the moon red for much of the western hemisphere. The next time we’ll see such a phenomenon is 2033.

    How to prepare: Reminders to prepare occur daily, whenever there’s another natural disaster story in the news. Just start preparing. Pick up one thing you need and slowly build up your emergency prep. If you already have an emergency kit, take a half hour to see if it’s up to date. It doesn’t take much time or money if you prepare in small bits.

     

    Hurricane Patricia surprised everyone when it exploded from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane October 22-23, according to weather.com. Equally surprising was its collapse shortly after landfall Mexico. No one died in the hurricane itself. However, its soggy aftermath added more rainfall to record flooding in the southeastern U.S. An October 10 storm had poured up to 15 inches on parts of South Carolina in 24 hours, causing widespread flooding and 19 deaths. Up to 160,000 homes may have been damaged.

    How to prepare: Know where to go in case you must evacuate. Know where local emergency shelters will be and have primary and alternate routes, suggests ready.gov. Never drive on a flooded road.

     

    A windstorm on November 17 killed three people and left more than a million without power in the Pacific Northwest. Spokane International Airport recorded record wind gusts of 71 miles per hour. The wind toppled trees and power poles and damaged buildings. Power was not entirely restored for 10 days.

    How to prepare: Keep electronic equipment charged. Emergency Essentials sells emergency chargers.

     

    This week, a winter storm, appropriately named Goliath by weather.com, brought 10 foot snowdrifts to New Mexico, tornadoes to Texas and massive flooding through the central and eastern U.S. So far, 43 people have died.

    How to prepare: Natural disasters can cause damage over a large area. Ready.gov recommends having emergency contact information for someone in another state in case of widespread damage in your area. Make sure family members know the out-of-state contact person’s information.

     

    And these were just the big headliners of the year. Of course, many things can transpire throughout the year. If we’ve learned anything from 2015, it’s that the unexpected can and most certainly will happen. We can’t predict everything, but we sure can be prepared for it!

    Have a safe, prepared 2016!

     

    That's our year in review! How did 2015 effect you?

     

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  • 6 Benefits of Prepping (That Don't Involve the End of the World)

    I have a good friend who, in an effort to be prepared, bought buckets of rice. Years later, she found out many of her family members can’t eat rice. Now she has buckets of rice that she can’t use. Unless…

     

    Salvage Comic - benefits of prepping

     

    It’s hard to prepare, especially on a budget. And, let’s face it, there’s a decent chance you’ll never need all these preparations. So why do it?

     

    If you’re prepared for an emergency, you’ll be ready in the off chance there is one.

    “I always hear people say, ‘I get all this [emergency kit] together and never need it. Well, count yourself [lucky] that you never need it. Sometimes things happen and so many people don’t have it,” said Judy Harvey, a Salt Lake City woman with several years’ training in emergency management.

    She keeps a 72-hour emergency kit at her desk and another in her front closet at home. She also keeps blankets and a first aid kit in her car. Her emergency training taught her that, logistically, it’s impossible for outside help to arrive sooner than three days.

     

    If you’re prepared, you’ll be ready to deal with life’s changes, large and small.

    “Sending kids to college, making a home purchase, having a baby, even something like a divorce. Are you financially prepared?” asked Ann House, coordinator of the Personal Money Management Center at the University of Utah. “Are you prepared for job loss? Do you have an emergency savings? Are you financially prepared for retirement? That’s more likely to happen than [a stock market collapse].”

    Many financial advisors recommend saving at least 20 percent of earnings. Part should go into retirement, part into short-term savings and part into an emergency fund, House said.

    Car Accident - Benefits Saving money can pay off when the unexpected happens.

    The short-term savings fund is for future expenses like holidays or a down payment. An emergency fund helps when things come up like car repairs or doctor bills, so you don’t have to use high-interest debt like credit cards or short-term loans

    Preparation helps even with small changes. When I go shopping, I try to use cash, then I put change into an emergency stash. Yesterday, a bit of that stash served as tooth fairy money.

     

    If you’re prepared, you can save money on major purchases and improve your everyday financial situation.

    Financial planners teach that a good credit score allows you to buy large-ticket items at a lower interest rate. In addition, House said more than 60 percent of prospective employers check credit scores, so a good score can mean the difference between getting and missing out on a job.

    It takes preparation to improve a credit score: remembering to pay all bills on schedule, keeping oldest credit cards and paying off other debt, and painstakingly searching credit reports for inevitable mistakes.

     

    If you’re prepared with insurance you’ll save money in case of damage.

    I asked family and friends how they prepared for emergencies. Every one said they bought renter’s insurance.

    Flooded House via Telegraph - Benefits via The Telegraph

    “We have renter’s insurance to protect our belongings in case of anything bad happening to the building we are in,” said Savannah Robertson, of Orem, Utah. “There are too many things that could go wrong in your house or car to not be prepared.”

    Shelly Robertson, from American Fork, Utah, said her family doesn’t have a lot of income. Yet they pay slightly higher insurance premiums every month so they’ll have a lower deductible in case of damage to their home or vehicles.

    “You pay more, but if you don’t have cash in hand to cover (emergency repairs), you will suck up the loss,” she said. “We have a $500 car and rental deductible, because we quite frankly cannot come up with more than $500.”

     

    Your preparation helps first responders.

    If a family member has special needs or uses special medical equipment, ready.gov recommends telling first responders and utility companies before an emergency.

    The advantage is simple: the more information first responders have, the better, said Trooper Josh Lewis from the Colorado State Patrol.

    He recalled an instance when an autistic boy from his church congregation wandered away from home, which caused an hours-long search. Fortunately, the boy wore a medical alert bracelet.

    “Should law enforcement come across him and see… the medical alert bracelet, we would much rather have the information than not,” Lewis said.

     

    If you’re prepared, you can help others.

    My friend who bought buckets of rice is now giving them away. Even though she didn’t use it herself, it’s reasonable to suppose that someone may use it in the future – maybe even someone who couldn’t have bought it on their own. It’s good she was prepared.

     

    What are some other benefits of prepping that you've noticed in your life? Let us know in the comments!

     

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