Posted: January 22, 2016
By Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Don’t eat the snow! A study, published in 2016, claimed that eating snow is potentially dangerous, particularly in urban areas.
Dr. Parisa Ariya, a professor at McGill University in Canada, told The Huffington Post that snow in cities can absorb toxic and carcinogenic pollutants and that the snow itself combining with those pollutants can lead to even more dangerous compounds being released.
"Snowflakes are ice particles with various types of surfaces, including several active sites, that can absorb various gaseous or particulate pollutants," she said.
Ariya, who led the study, said she did not "wish to be alarmist," but "as a mother who is an atmospheric physical chemist, I definitely do not suggest my young kids eat snow in urban areas in general."
The study examined how snow interacts with pollutants from car exhaust in the air. Findings showed that snow pulled pollutants like benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylenes from the air. The amount of pollutants concentrated in the snow increased dramatically.
"Without considering snow and ice, one will not be able to properly evaluate the effect of exhaust emission, and subsequently health and climate impacts, for the cities which receive snow," Ariya said. "Further research is recommended to address various aspects of such experiments under various environmental conditions, for adequate implementation in future modeling."
(Keith Myers/Kansas City Star/MCT)
(Keith Myers/Kansas City Star/MCT)
As snow falls, homeowners need to keep up on snow removal.
But simple snow shoveling could land some in the emergency room if they don’t follow some simple guidelines.
“Picking up a shovel and moving hundreds of pounds of snow, particularly after doing nothing physical for several months, can put a big strain on the heart,” Harvard Health executive editor Patrick Skerrett has written in the past.
Cold temperatures can also increase heart rate and blood pressure. Blood can clot easier and constrict arteries, decreasing blood supply, the National Safety Council reported.
From 1990-2006, 1,647 people died from heart issues related to shoveling snow, the BBC reported. The average is about 100 people a year die from shoveling-related heart attacks.
So how can you keep yourself safe while doing the winter chore?
If you have history of heart disease, ask a doctor before attempting to shovel and if you feel tightness in the chest or dizziness while shoveling, stop.
If you opt for a snowblower instead of a shovel, the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons offer these snowblower safety tips:
According to the Federal Highway Administration, 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement, resulting in over 1,300 deaths and more than 116,800 injuries annually.
"Winter weather can be challenging for drivers, no matter their level of expertise," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelly Blue Book's website KBB.com. "Preparation starts by purchasing a vehicle with appropriate winter driving capabilities, and it extends to paying close attention to important details such as tires, washer fluid and other maintenance items that are critical to help keep passengers safe in inclement weather."
Tips for Winter Driving
All-wheel drive counts. All-wheel drive aids acceleration and maximizes available traction, sending power to all four corners. This comes in handy when accelerating from a stop on wet, icy or snowy surfaces and makes it less likely that you'll get stuck, particularly on slippery inclines.
However, the type of tires on your car matter more. It's important to remember that the tires are the only part of a vehicle that actually touch the ground. As a result, they are ultimately responsible for the level of traction a vehicle will or won't have, regardless of how good its traction control, stability control, or all-wheel drive system. If the tires can't grip on snow and ice, you're not going anywhere. Snow tires (or "winter" tires) offer more traction than all-season tires.
There is no one-size-fits-all setup. However, where you live, the amount of snowfall the area sees, and your level of driving comfort should dictate which type of vehicle and tires are right for you. Keep in mind that winter tires will wear rapidly in warmer temperatures, so you should be ready to change your winter tires out when the weather changes.
Be practical. While the top option remains an all-wheel drive vehicle fitted with winter tires, if you're budget-conscious, front-wheel drive with winter tires is another good option. Due to the price premium seen on today's all-wheel drive vehicles, experts suggest buying a car that fits your everyday lifestyle, rather than occasional needs.
Don't use a mixed set of snow tires. Make sure to fit matching snow tires to all four wheels, rather than a mixed set at each end, which can compromise handling.
Have your vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic. You should ensure your vehicle has all necessary maintenance performed, including checking tire pressure, fluid levels, the function of the heater, defroster, and wipers, as well as the health of the brakes, battery, and all belts and hoses.
When in doubt, slow down. Even with a fully-winterized vehicle, staying alert and traveling at safe speeds are essential to driving safely in winter weather.
As Americans continue to brave the winter weather, photos from a remote village in Russia might make them count their blessings that it’s not worse.
According to the experts, Oymyakon in Siberia is the world’s coldest permanently inhabited area. Recent temperatures came in at a bone-chilling -62°C, or -79.6°F.
In fact, it was so cold that the town’s thermometer broke.
A few pictures have indicated that bundling up is no match for the weather.
Despite this, the weather certainly hasn’t deterred the adventurous.
It would seem that besides the thermometer, schools are the only other thing truly feeling the effects of the cold temperatures.
The National Weather Service is offering warning signs and tips to deal with frostbite and hypothermia.
Those who need to warm up are encouraged to use their armpits, a warm companion, warm drinks and warm clothes. Those who believe they may have frostbite are encouraged to get indoors, get in a warm, but not hot, bath and wrap their face and ears in a moist, warm towel, WHIO reported. Hot stoves and heaters, heating pads and a hot water bottle should be avoided, as skin may burn before feeling returns.
Frostbitten skin will become warm and swollen and feel as though it's on fire, WHIO reported. Blisters may develop, but popping them can cause scarring, according to the National Weather Service. If skin is blue or gray, very swollen, blistered or feels hard and numb, go to the hospital immediately.
Hypothermia occurs when a person's body temperature is below 96 degrees, and temperatures as low as 60 degrees can cause hypothermia if someone isn't properly clothed.
Remember these tips to help prevent hypothermia
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