Seasonal Tips For Winter Health and Wellness
Vancouver, B.C. – Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) today released a series of essential healthcare tips to help the community navigate health and wellness during the winter season.
Winter presents unique challenges that can significantly increase healthcare demand, from increased incidences of slips and falls to a rise in viral respiratory illnesses. Individuals are urged to take proactive and preventative measures for their safety and well-being.
The focus of these winter health tips is on prevention and self-care, emphasizing the importance of flu and COVID-19 vaccinations, practice healthy habits such as hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and staying home when sick, cold weather safety adherence and home management of common winter ailments. The goal is to inspire individuals to proactively maintain their health and reduce unnecessary health care visits.
Whether facing a minor ailment or a serious condition, receiving the right care at the right place and time is vital. VCH offers a range of health care access points for medical needs, from non-urgent to critical. Residents should familiarize themselves with these options to ensure they can access the most suitable care setting for their needs.
"As winter sets in, we typically see a rise in viral respiratory illnesses, along with injuries linked to winter sports and adverse weather conditions. Seasonal depression also becomes more common.” said Dr. Richard Chan, Emergency Physician at Richmond Hospital and the Medical Director, Richmond City Centre Urgent and Primary Care Centre. “The choices we make every day, even the small ones, can greatly influence our health and safety during these colder months. Understanding when to seek medical attention is crucial, but knowing how to look after our health to prevent illness and injury is just as vital. Taking proactive steps toward self-care can significantly reduce the need for medical interventions and keep us all healthier throughout the winter."
Below is the vital information for the winter season, encompassing preventative strategies, self-care tips and clear guidance on where to access health care when needed. More comprehensive information is available at vch.ca/wintercare.
Winter Health and Wellness Tips:
Preventing slips and falls:
- Beware of icy conditions as everyone is at risk. Property owners and occupants should remove snow and ice from sidewalks and clear storm drains of leaves and snow to prevent flooding.
- Walk safely by planning routes, choosing cleared pathways, opting for non-slip footwear, and considering the use of canes or walking aids to provide additional stability and support.
- Seniors, remember many falls can be prevented. Stay active and adhere to health guidelines to maintain your strength and balance.
- Use a slower and wider gait to better protect against falls. Walk slowly, take small steps, and point your toes out slightly to be more stable on icy paths.
Staying active and playing safe:
- Embrace recreational activities for their extensive health benefits.
- Wear appropriate protective gear, such as helmets and pads, and consider taking lessons for proper instruction.
- Learn about injuries, risk factors, and safety measures at activesafe.ca.
Ensuring road safety during winter conditions:
- Budget extra time for travel and be mindful of weather conditions.
- Remain vigilant to avoid driver fatigue.
- Equip your vehicle with winter tires and an emergency kit.
- Always leave plenty of space when passing pedestrians, cyclists and others.
Keeping up with vaccinations:
- Flu and COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for everyone six months and older.
- Up-to-date flu and COVID-19 vaccinations are essential to maintain immunity against flu and COVID-19 viruses that change over time.
- Vaccinations make you less likely to spread flu and COVID-19 to others, protecting those around you.
- Stay informed about vaccine recommendations via the province's Get Vaccinated system.
- You can register in the Get Vaccinated System at COVID-19 immunization - Province of British Columbia (gov.bc.ca) to book appointments for flu and COVID-19 vaccines.
Practicing good hand and respiratory hygiene:
- Regularly clean your hands and avoid face-touching.
- Stay home when sick and limit contact especially with vulnerable individuals.
- Wear a mask when experiencing symptoms of illness, when recovering from illness, or for additional protection based on personal choice.
- Follow proper respiratory etiquette, such as covering coughs with an elbow or sleeve.
- Properly dispose of tissues.
- Respect personal space.
Health Care Navigation Guide:
This guide presents a general overview of care options for different needs. It is important to note that healthcare services and offerings may differ by location. VCH includes region-specific information at vch.ca/wintercare to assist in identifying local resources within various communities.
- Personalized care: Your family doctor or nurse practitioner knows your health needs best. If you don’t have one, register at HealthLinkBC.ca.
- General health questions: Call 8-1-1 to speak with a nurse any time.
- Pharmacy services: Visit SeeYourPharmacist.ca for prescription refills and minor issues. BC pharmacists treat select minor issues like allergies, cold sores, acne, pink eye, and UTIs.
- Mental health concerns: Visit vch.ca/MentalHealth.
- Non-life-threatening health issues: Visit an urgent and primary care centre for same-day care.
- Emergencies: Call 9-1-1 or go to the Emergency Department. Check wait times at EDWaitTimes.ca.
- Vaccinations: Book flu or COVID-19 shots at a pharmacy or health authority clinic by visiting GetVaccinated.gov.bc.ca or calling the vaccine appointment booking support line at 1-833-838-2323.
Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH)
Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) is committed to delivering exceptional care to 1.2 million people, including the First Nations, Métis and Inuit in our region, within the traditional territories of the Heiltsuk, Kitasoo-Xai'xais, Lil'wat, Musqueam, N'Quatqua, Nuxalk, Samahquam, shíshálh, Skatin, Squamish, Tla'amin, Tsleil-Waututh, Wuikinuxv, and Xa'xtsa. VCH is British Columbia’s hub of health-care innovation, research and academic excellence, providing specialized care to patients throughout the province. Learn more at vch.ca.