Unexpected Winter Hazards: Spiders, Ticks, Dehydration

With the cold temperatures and inhospitable conditions of winter, you would expect (or at least hope) that you'd be safe from common "summertime" dangers. Well, think again. The lower half of the U.S. can still serve you up a good helping of spiders and ticks in winter. And dehydration can strike anytime and anywhere, especially in the drier wintertime air.

Here's how to steer clear of these unexpected winter hazards.

Spiders
It's been milder than normal this winter here in the Mid-Atlantic. On a particularly nice day earlier this week, I was getting a head start on some gardening projects. While moving around some pots and containers, I happened to see some messy, tangled and debris filled webs. This web style is classic Black Widow web work, so I was a little more on guard than usual after that. And two days later, I ran across the web's maker - a very chubby, Black Widow, right there in an empty vegetable pot in my backyard garden in the middle of winter.

What can you do against deadly spiders with anti-freeze in their blood? You can do the same things you would do in warmer weather. Be cautious around undisturbed areas that provide shelter for the animal. This means caution around wood piles, old sheds and out buildings, junk cars, and any place else that would make a good Widow habitat.

Ticks
I pulled the first tick of the year off my shirt sleeve three weeks ago. Don't be fooled into thinking that ticks fly south for the winter. Ticks are still out, and they are as tenacious and hardy as any bug can get.

It's never a bad idea to hit your boots and pant legs with some DEET on those nice winter days, when you start to see a few flies and other bugs coming out. And always perform a tick check when you get back home.

Dehydration
It's hard to drink enough in the winter, especially if your beverages are cold. But you need to drink just as much in winter as you normally would drink through the rest of the year.

Drink enough so that you are peeing every few hours at a minimum. This is your best gauge on hydration. If there is snow around, you shouldn't be making orange snow either. It should be the classic yellow snow. The paler the shade of yellow, the better your hydration level is. Other dehydration indicators are chapped lips that aren't wind related, and constipation.

Let us know in the comments if you have run into any out-of-season hazards.