Winter Cold Snap Is Turning Americans Into Idiots

Jeanne Sager

Shoveling snowThe single-digit temperatures have given small talkers in the Northeast plenty to chit chat about on the Starbucks line, but they've also turned folks in certain parts of the nation into walking, talking health hazards. You'd think the cold has frozen their brains with the way people are acting.

It's not just hyperbole. Based on figures from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, 95,000 more people died during the 121 days of cold months between 2001 and 2007. That's 800 more deaths a day compared to when the temperatures were warmer. Car accidents on snowy roads surely account for some of it, but there are plenty of other manmade incidents that could be easily avoided. The winter is bad for your health ... but let's face it, so are you. Check to see if you're on the "I'm making myself sick this winter" list:

I'm Going to Shovel to Get a Workout. You never exercise. But calling the guy three houses down with the plow on his pickup just costs too much money. So you've decided to take matters -- and a shovel -- into your own hands. Now you'll never guess what 45 percent of family physicians say brings in patients during the winter months. Did you guess back pain? Ding, ding, ding! Put down the shovel, and nobody will get hurt.

Running on Ice. Sure, you're a big bad marathoner who can't stand to take a day off. You're addicted to running, and it's not a curse, it's a blessing. But that doesn't make you invincible. Good runners go down on slippery terrain too. Word to the wise: nobody is that good. Invest in a treadmill or do laps around your kitchen; a bum knee doesn't help anyone win marathons.

Cuddling With the Dog to Warm Up. They're like portable heaters, really, so it's no wonder it's hard to resist a warm dog on a cold day. But new evidence claims as much as 62 percent of pet owners are in danger because they let their pet sleep with them. Turns out Fido and Fluffy are bringing germs and disease to bed with them. So get the dog's dirty butt off your pillow, and buy a hot water bottle.

Skipping the Hat. I have a winter hat with two long braids that tie under the chin. My former co-workers called me Heidi when I wore it. My husband calls me a dork. So you can see the temptation not to wear it. But here's something you only learn once: life comes before fashion. Hypothermia can kill you. Social suicide can't.

Driving Like an Idiot. You can blame the snow for all the accidents, but those of us who grew up driving in the white stuff know better. People act like idiots the minute there's a flake on the ground. If you can't bear to drive at a safe speed, stop tailgating, and NOT PASS THE SNOW PLOW, do the world a favor. Stay home.

Does the winter seem to turn your neighbors into community health hazards with no common sense?


Image via Like_the_grand_canyon/Flickr

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