DR. WALLACE: I’m lucky that I live in an area that has reasonable temperatures right now. But I recently heard on the news that many people in Texas are without power and heat due to a terrible storm there. Would you please put a few tips and ideas on how to best stay warm in your column so that anyone in that state or their relatives can advise others, especially seniors, how to keep warm until power is finally restored?
I realize this is not a teenager-specific question, but I’m concerned for my fellow citizens all the same. — Worried Girl, via email
WORRIED GIRL: Of course I’m happy to provide such information, and I commend you for thinking of others, especially our elderly citizens.
First, address the home environment. Start by opening all blinds during the daytime and then closing them after the sun sets. Look around your home or apartment to see if there are any open cracks or crevices exposed that could let cold air in. Also look under all doors that lead to and from the living space. If a gap exists, you should fill it with towels, old clothes or even duct tape. The key is to keep your living space airtight to keep cold air from seeping in.
Next, address keeping your body warm. The key here is to add as many layers of clothing as possible. This includes socks for cold feet! Be sure to add several thinner underlying layers before capping things off with a big jacket or coat. And do wear gloves or mittens as well. If there are no gloves or mittens in the home, then put several layers of clean socks on each hand.
Also use several blankets. If you have pets, especially dogs, keep them under a few old blankets next to you. Dogs tend to put out a lot of body heat, so the blankets will keep them warm and could provide a human sitting next to them a bit of extra warmth as well.
There are also safety issues to consider. If a person opts to start a car to get some heat for a period of time, be 100% certain that vehicle is fully outdoors. Do not ever start and sit in a car in a garage due to the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. The same goes for barbecue grills, which can only be used safely outdoors. If a home has a fire pit outside, that can be safely used for a period of time.
Indeed, these are difficult times for many Americans in Texas and the surrounding areas affected by the combination of subzero wind chill weather and the power being out. Our thoughts and concerns go out to them all. Furthermore, we should all remember to call and check in on the welfare of each relative, friend and neighbor who may be affected.
DR. WALLACE: I’m a 15-year-old girl who is 5 feet, 4 inches tall, and I want to stay this way! I’m the shortest one in my family and I like it. My older sister is 5 feet, 11 inches; my father is 6 feet, 3 inches; and my mother is 5 feet, 9 inches.
Is there a possibility that I won’t grow anymore and can stay at my current height? I know many people eat certain foods to try to make themselves grow taller, so I’d like to know if there is any special diet I could start and maintain that wouldn’t make me gain or lose any weight, but that would allow me to stay at this exact, perfect height. — Petite and Loving It, via email
PETITE AND LOVING IT: Teenagers can continue to grow beyond their teen years, sometimes even into their early 20s, but most girls typically reach their maximum height at the age of 17. Since your family heredity is a major factor in height, you may end up growing a few more inches.
There is not any special type of diet that would cause you to simply stop growing any taller. At your age, your height is going to naturally reach the level your DNA calls for. My recommendation is to eat a healthy, balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables regularly mixed in. This way, you’ll be giving yourself an opportunity to be quite healthy no matter what height you eventually reach.