Winter Safety

Winter weather is here! And with it comes the beauty of freshly fallen snow, icicles glistening in the sun and many new safety hazards that can easily be avoided with some preparation and planning.

Dressing Properly
When venturing out into cold weather, it’s important to wear clothing that holds the body’s heat. Clothing should be windproof, water-repellent and capable of allowing moisture to evaporate from the body. Wear several layers of loose-fitting clothing to insulate your body by trapping warm, dry air inside. Loosely woven cotton and wool clothes best trap air and resist dampness. Down is good in dry conditions, but becomes ineffective when wet. The head and neck lose heat faster than any other part of the body. Your cheeks, ears and nose are the most prone to frostbite, so wear a hat and scarf to protect these areas.

Snow Removal
Injuries related to snow removal are among the most common winter-related injuries seen in emergency rooms. Shoveling, trying to clear snow off the roof, or using a snow blower can all be hazardous. Removing snow from sidewalks and steps – especially heavy snow – can lead to injuries from slips and falls, cause back strain, or put people at risk for a heart attack. To prevent these types of injuries, use a good shovel, keep your back straight and push the snow, rather than trying to lift it.

Preventing Slips and Falls
Nearly two-thirds of slips and falls occur on snow, ice or wet surfaces near entrances or on parking lots.
Here are some tips to help you prevent falls:

• Wear shoes that provide good traction.
• Give yourself plenty of time.
• Take short steps with your feet pointed slightly outward.
• Be extremely careful getting out of your vehicle. If possible, swing your legs around and place both feet on the pavement before you attempt to stand.
• Don’t take shortcuts. Always use sidewalks and the cleared paths in parking lots.
• Pay attention to the walking surface. Look down, however, only with your eyes. If you bow your head, it
could propel you forward.
• Be alert for black ice — particularly in the days following a storm.

Safety Inside the Home
During the winter months, not all the hazards are outside the home. Indoors, carbon monoxide poisoning is a particular concern. This can come from a malfunctioning gas water heater or furnace, or an unvented kerosene or gas space heater. In the garage, carbon monoxide can build up if the garage door is closed while a car or generator is running. Babies, older adults and people with anemia or heart or lung disease are especially at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms include shortness of breath, mild nausea, headache, dizziness, confusion and fainting.

Preventive measures include having your equipment checked and serviced regularly. Check your furnace filter to be sure it’s clean and ready to go and make sure you have extras so you won’t put off changing them. Clean around the furnace, and vacuum room vents as far as you can reach.

We hope you have a safe and fun winter season. By using good common sense practices and following safety precautions, you can reduce your risk of injury and illness when dealing with the cold weather, ice and snow this winter.

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