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Make Sure Winter Games Give Thrills, Not Chills and Spills

Going to the Games? Don't forget your gear

Maybe you are not a gold medal contender, but you can make sure you are fit and feel well when you travel.

Before you go

  • Find out from your doctor about vaccines for the seasonal flu and the 2009 H1N1 flu. It's the flu season, so it is important to get vaccinated to reduce your chances of getting sick.
  • Flu prevention can be travel-sized. Prepare a travel health kit so you have important medications with you. Be sure to include alcohol-based hand sanitizer and pain and fever medicines.
  • If you have a flu-like illness with fever and cough or sore throat, delay your travel plans until your fever has been gone for 24 hours. You can help prevent the spread of flu by covering your sneezes and coughs with tissues and washing your hands often with soap and water. Remember the simple rules of "Stop, wash and go."
  • Check with your health insurance provider to find out the extent of your medical coverage outside the United States. If necessary, purchase medical travel insurance to cover unexpected health incidents during your time in Canada.
  • Familiarize yourself with the location of hospitals officially designated for Paralympic spectators.

Out in the cold

The 2010 Paralympic Winter Games will deliver plenty of thrills, but also chills and spills.

Competitions on snow and ice are heavy on the chill factor. At outdoor venues, you will be exposed to cold temperatures and wind for long periods with very limited access to shelters.

Unless you wear protective clothing, your body may lose heat faster than it can produce it. This can lead to hypothermia or abnormally low body temperature. When this happens, you may experience confusion, slurred speech, drowsiness, and shivering.

Extreme cold temperatures also cause frostbite. The nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes lose color and feeling. This numbness is dangerous because it often goes undetected. Hypothermia and frostbite are very serious conditions that require immediate medical attention.

Dress for the weather

Photo: A family dressed for cold weather.Do not get caught in the cold without proper clothing. The right waterproof and windproof garments will keep you warm and safe.

Wear layers so you can adjust your clothing as temperatures change during the day. This flexibility will help as you move from outdoor to indoor venues. Dress so the inner layer allows sweat to escape, the middle layer insulates for added warmth, and the outer layer shields from wind and snow.

Stop crucial heat loss by

  • protecting your head, face and neck with hats and scarves.
  • wearing waterproof, insulated gloves and boots.

Exposure to sun, wind and snow can be harmful in many ways. Remember to

  • use sunscreen, lip protection and skin moisturizer.
  • drink plenty of fluids and eat regularly to stay hydrated.
  • wear sunglasses or ski goggles.

Don't crash on the ice

Photo: A curling stone.Let Paralympic competitors take the risks on the ice. They train for months on how to navigate on the ice and snow safely. You need to play it safe. Wear winter boots with good traction so you do not slip on ice, snow, or wet pavement. Move around to keep blood circulating through your body, but be careful when walking over uneven ground or crossing busy streets.

Spectator crowds can provide challenges, particularly if they become unruly after a sports victory or defeat. Choose a place to meet if you get separated from your group. Use common sense and avoid risky social behavior. Stay in safe areas and monitor alcohol consumption. Never drive while under the influence of alcohol nor accept rides with anyone who has been drinking.

Driving on snowy or icy roads is very hazardous, particularly if you do not have experience with these road conditions. The basics of safe driving are

  • obey all speed and traffic laws.
  • wear seatbelts.
  • stay alert.

May the Paralympic athletes inspire you to achieve your health and fitness goals. We at the CDC want you and your travel team to enjoy the Paralympic Winter Games and bring home a suitcase full of gold, silver and bronze memories.

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