USPS

8 Ways Postal Workers Can Stay Warm and Healthy This Winter

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Postal workers, particularly mail carriers, face a range of health risks during the frigid winter months. While some risks are minor, others could lead to painful on-the-job injuries and illnesses for federal postal workers, including frostbite, hypothermia and respiratory troubles that could lead to lengthy treatment and time away from work.

Also, when temperatures drop, the risk of a postal worker coming down with the flu or a cold rises significantly. A worker facing stressful work conditions while on medication or recovering from an illness typically is more prone to injuries.

Postal workers can minimize the impact winter may have on their overall health by employing one or more of these ways to stay healthy and warm:

1. Use natural cold and flu remedies.

While many doctors will recommend getting a flu shot before the start of cold and flu season, there are also a number of natural remedies you can use to prevent or treat such illnesses. These remedies include:

• Vitamin C (boosts the immune system and treats colds)
• Echinacea (reduces the severity of a cold and speeds recovery)
• Zinc lozenges (minimize pain associated with upper respiratory infection)
• Garlic (fights off viruses and boost one’s immune system)
• Elderberry (boosts immune cells, shortens flu symptoms and prevents certain viruses from spreading)
• Ginseng (prevents cold and flu symptoms).

However, note that vitamins or natural supplements should only be taken under a doctor’s advisement. This is because some natural remedies can have negative effects on the body when paired with certain medications.

2. Get a good night’s sleep.

Getting sleep may seem to be a simple matter. However, people tend to overlook the importance of sleep. When an individual is exhausted or fatigued, he or she will lack the energy needed to keep the body’s muscles warm. So, get a good six to eight hours of sleep each night. Also, avoiding overexertion and take regular, short breaks.

3. Eat properly and stay hydrated.

Your body needs energy to help it stay warm. It cannot generate this energy unless it is properly fed and hydrated. Drinking lots of water and warm beverages can help as well as eating a healthy breakfast and hearty lunch. There are also certain grains, oils and spices that have been known to increase a person’s metabolism and allow the body to generate heat. Foods such as ginger, coconut oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika, brown rice, rolled oats and hot soups are believed to be beneficial in helping you to stay warm during the winter.

4. Dress in layers.

When you dress in layers for warmth, it allows you to add or remove clothing as the weather changes during the day. In the morning, it may be beneficial to have more layers, while in the afternoon, you may require less. If an outer layer gets wet, you will still have additional layers that can help to keep you warm.

5. Remove wet clothes immediately.

During the process of delivering mail, your clothes may become sodden if it is raining or snowing outside. As soon as clothing gets wet, it loses its insulating value. Removing wet clothes can help to minimize the loss of body heat. It can also help to minimize the risk of coming down with cold symptoms or some other type of weather-related disease.

6. Schedule your deliveries during the warmest part of the day.

Although weather conditions are likely to be poor during winter months, there are things postal workers can do to minimize their exposure and limit the health risks they face. One of the simplest ways a postal worker can stay warm and healthy is to schedule deliveries during the warmest part of the day. Making the majority of your deliveries at this time of day can help you to reduce your risk of hypothermia, frostbite and or viruses.

7. Ensure your vehicle has been maintained.

Having your postal vehicle break down is one of the last things a postal worker wants to see happen during the cold winter months. It is difficult enough to be out making deliveries in the rain, sleet, snow and ice. Ensure that the vehicle you use has been routinely maintained in order to avoid getting stuck in dangerously cold weather.

8. Make sure your vehicle is equipped with a winter survival kit.

If your vehicle breaks down, gets into an accident or becomes stuck in snow, it is important that you be properly prepared. Making sure your vehicle is equipped with a winter survival kit can help you to avoid many of the health hazards and risks you could face by being exposed to the elements. The most basic winter survival car kit should include blankets, a first aid kit, water, food, waterproof matches, a mobile phone (or at least a phone charger) and extra clothing.

Sources / More Information

Flu Shot: Your Best Bet for Avoiding Influenza (Mayo Clinic)

Five Foods That Can Help Keep You Warm This Winter (Accuweather)

Extreme Cold, A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

(SOURCE: Harris Federal)
(PHOTO: Shared under Creative Commons License)