Stay healthy and safe! Tips to protect yourself and others this winterOctober 1, 2021
At the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, we not only provide health care at the Alaska Native Medical Center, we also promote health and wellness initiatives that help keep you out of the hospital to begin with.
As we prepare for another winter, we want to make sure all people are prepared with information and simple actions to protect our communities, our families and yourself from respiratory illnesses, such as flu, COVID-19, RSV and common colds, as well as winter injuries and other preventable health issues.
Tips to prevent respiratory illness
- Wear a mask when you are indoors in a public place. Masks help decrease the spread of contagious droplets from your nose and mouth, especially from the more contagious delta variant of COVID-19. Last year, masks also helped decrease the number of flu cases across Alaska.
- Physically distance from others indoors, by standing 6 feet away from each other whenever possible. Distance from other people can also decrease the reach of contagious infections.
- Wash your hands frequently. Hand-washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, can reduce the spread of germs to yourself and others. If you have limited or no in-home running water, see this guide on hand and home sanitation.
- Keep your social circles small and limit large gatherings. If you do gather, try to do it outside. Limiting interactions can help limit exposure to infections for unvaccinated children or Elders with weakened immune systems.
- Get trusted health information about vaccinations available. Vaccines can reduce the severity of illnesses such as the flu and COVID-19 and prevent the need for hospitalization. Talk to your local health care provider or community health aide about the flu vaccine or COVID-19 vaccine options. Look for health information from ANTHC, your regional Tribal health organization or State of Alaska resources.
- Flu vaccines are available from many Tribal health organizations. Check with your local clinic or hospital for options. If you are visiting Anchorage, you can go to the ANTHC Walk-in Clinic to receive a flu vaccine.
- COVID-19 vaccines protect yourself and others, and are free, readily available, safe and effective. New variants of COVID-19 are affecting people of all ages, including children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. Even if you are low risk for infection complications, your vaccination helps protect others that can’t be vaccinated.
Tips to prevent winter injuries
- Getting outdoors this winter? Don’t forget your helmet. Snow isn’t as soft as it looks – and Alaska health professionals say no matter how much we enjoy the outdoors; kids especially need to protect their brains. Too many Alaskans will hit their heads while playing outdoors this winter, including children and teenagers. Most of the time, those injuries — which can have permanent effects — are preventable. Read more here.
- Maintain a healthy woodstove for clean air and the longevity of the stove. It’s important to keep tabs on what you are burning and how it burns. For instance, a black, soot-filled window on your woodstove can be an indication that maintenance is needed, or burning practices need to be changed. Read more here.
- Prevent winter slips and falls. Strains, sprains and broken bones are no fun. To help prevent a slip and fall in cold weather, clear off snow and ice on entry and walkways, wear appropriate shoes with good traction, consider using ice grippers and take extra time and small careful steps. Keep a mat near the doorway for wiping shoes or a broom handy for knocking off snow.
Tips to protect your overall health
- Make appointments for essential preventive health screenings. Good health requires regular health care, especially for people with chronic health conditions. Chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure don’t take a break during a pandemic. Children still need their well-child visits and immunizations to be protected from diseases. Cancer can still spread undetected and heart attacks can still strike. Cancer screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies are still being scheduled. Contact your provider about health screenings you may have missed. Read more here.
- Take care of your mental well-being, in addition to your physical health. Stress, grief and other strong emotional responses can have effects on our overall health. Taking time to care for our mental well-being is important. Getting active, practicing gratitude, creating something and connecting with traditional activities are all things that help support your mental health. ANTHC celebrates Mental Health Awareness Month during May, but these activities can be done any time of the year. Read more here. The new ANTHC Behavioral Health and Wellness Clinic is also available to support your mental health wellness. All services are offered via telemedicine and there is a variety of services and group sessions with same day access often available. Learn more and complete your intake online to connect with the clinic.