If you’re looking to avoid winter health risks this holiday season, follow these simple steps.

Prevent Defense: Besides getting a vaccine for the flu and COVID, there are other strategies to keep cold viruses at bay in winter. Per the NIH: “Wash your hands frequently. Wipe down surfaces around you with a sanitizing cleaner. Keep a distance from those who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Stay hydrated, so you can flush toxins out of your system. Get enough sleep to keep your immune system strong.”

Bite It Off: “Frostbite is a serious condition,” point out the folks at the Mayo Clinic. So, to avoid damaging your skin in the cold: “Dress in several layers of loose, warm clothing (for better insulation). Wear a hat or headband that fully covers your ears. And wear mittens rather than gloves.” Unlike gloves, your fingers can share the warmth in a good pair of mittens.

Don’t Slip: Fall leads to winter. And winter leads to falls. To avoid slipping on the ice and snow and injuring yourself, you should wear proper footwear, take small steps, walk slowly and keep both hands free for balance. Another good tip, says Ohio’s Department of Aging, is to “carry a small bag or shaker of rock salt, sand or kitty litter in your pocket or purse to sprinkle in front of you for traction.”

Shovel Smart: Winter can bring snow — and removing it can bring on exhaustion, dehydration, back injuries or heart attacks. So the National Safety Council recommends: “Take it slow and stretch out before you begin. Push the snow rather than lifting it. If you do lift it, use a small shovel or only partially fill the shovel. [And] lift with your legs, not your back.”

Lighten the Mood: “Less sunlight and shorter days are thought to be linked to a chemical change in the brain,” say the folks at Johns Hopkins Medicine. This can lead to seasonal affective disorder [SAD], a type of depression. To combat it, try getting exposure to sunshine by spending time outside or near a window. Also, get regular exercise; eat healthy, well-balanced meals; engage in hobbies and activities that make you feel better; and, of course, seek professional help if needed.