Health Watch -- A Winter Wrap

Health Watch is a Public Service of the  Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Could convenience cost you your life?

Do you ever leave the house without a coat in cold weather because you know you won't have to get out of the car? When you go from your house into your garage, then turn on the heater and drive around on errands, do you really need to bother carrying a coat?

Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say yes. What would you do if your car broke down and you were stranded by the side of the road for a while? What if you were the one in an accident and you couldn't stay in your car? You'd be stuck outside without a coat, and that could lead to hypothermia, a potentially deadly condition.

Dr. Paul Pepe, UT Southwestern's chairman of emergency medicine, says when you leave the house in cold weather, you should always be prepared to spend an hour outdoors in the cold. No matter how short your errand is, you should have a coat with you. That also applies to any children you bring along with you, even if you don't plan to take them out of the car.

It's also a good idea to keep a winter survival kit in the trunk of your car, including extra blankets, water and a flashlight. You may never use these items, but if you do need them, they could save your life.