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Winter safety tips

Winter is almost here. Many are preparing for the upcoming holidays and looking forward to snowball fights, wood crackling in the fireplace, winter sports and more. But the magic of a winter wonderland can bring hazards. Snow shoveling alone sends more than 11,000 people to the hospital each year—11 percent with cardiac-related problems. Of the more than 1.3 million annual weather-related crashes, 41 percent occur when snow, sleet, slush or ice are present.  And sadly, the harsh winter cold is responsible for twice as many fatalities as summer’s heat.

Nearly all Americans encounter winter weather-related hazards at some point in time. Storms and blizzards, extreme cold, snow, frost and wind chills pose threats to residents from coast to coast. Preparing for Old Man Winter can help mitigate its threats and keep community members safe and warm this winter season. Share these winter safety tips with your agency and all it serves:

  • Snow removal: Shoveling and snow blowing are strenuous jobs that are made even more so for those not used to physical activity. The exertion, coupled with extreme cold—which increases both heart rate and blood pressure—can strain the heart, especially in older, inactive adults. The National Safety Council (NSC) recommends not shoveling after eating or while smoking, pushing snow rather than lifting it, and taking it slow and allowing for frequent breaks.

Your heart isn’t the only thing needing protection. Keep hypothermia and frostbite at bay when Jack Frost comes nipping. Dress in multiple layers of warm, breathable clothing—layers trap air that serves as a protective insulator. And be sure to throw on a hat, as much of the body’s heat to keep your head warm. Include these snow-removal safety tips, imprinted on a hot chocolate packet, with your annual snow-removal guideline mailers and announcements.

  • On the road: Driving in winter can be hazardous for a number of reasons. Although you can’t control the weather, you can prepare to drive in it. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend having your car serviced prior to winter’s arrival to check the radiator, anti-freeze level and tire tread. Add cold-weather windshield washer fluid and keep gas tanks full to avoid ice build-up in the lines and tank. Also, be sure to prepare or restock your car’s winter emergency kit—include extra warm clothes, blankets, food and water, jumper cables, sand or cat litter and a small shovel, a first-aid kit and a flashlight.Post these safety tips to social media outlets and ask friends and followers to make a pledge to add these items to their car before the snow falls. Reward participants with an entry into a drawing for a free auto safety kit or auto emergency tool kit.
  • At home: When the weather outside is frightful, many prefer to stay put. To keep safe indoors, the CDC recommends having your heating system, fireplace and chimney professionally checked to ensure good working order and safe ventilation to the outdoors. It is also a good idea to install a carbon monoxide (CO) detector and/or check and replace its batteries. Stock food and water in case weather conditions make travel impossible, and assemble or restock a winter emergency kit prior to a storm. Include extra first-aid items and medication, pet food and baby supplies, batteries, flashlights or lanterns, a weather radio and a safe alternate heat source.Post your winter emergency kit checklist online and imprint the URL on first-aid pocket packs that can be distributed at local libraries, seniors’ centers, health departments and more. Encourage participants to download your checklist by entering them in a prize drawing for a weather radio/flashlight combo, LED lantern or survival backpack.

Winter is coming—it is inevitable. Share these tips with your entire community to keep everyone safe and warm this upcoming season. Then, let it snow!

“Snow Shoveling-A Real Risk for Heart Attack.” Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. N.p., 19 Feb. 2015. Web. Retrieved 17 Sept. 2015.

“How Do Weather Events Impact Roads?” U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 17 Sept. 2015.

Rice, Doyle. “Killer cold: Winter is deadlier than summer in U.S.” USA Today. Gannett, 30 July 2014. Web. Retrieved 17 Sept. 2015.

“Winter Storms & Extreme Cold.” Ready.gov. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 17 Sept. 2015.

“NWS Winter Storm Safety Home Page.” National Weather Service. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 17 Sept. 2015.

“Why Do People Die Shoveling Snow?” National Safety Council. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 17 Sept. 2015.

Snow Shoveling (n.d.): n. pag. Nsc.org. Web. Retrieved 17 Sept. 2015.

“Shoveling Snow Health Hazards.” American Heart Association. N.p., 23 Mar. 2015. Web. Retrieved 17 Sept. 2015.

“Be Prepared to Stay Safe and Healthy in Winter.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 02 Feb. 2015. Web. Retrieved 17 Sept. 2015.

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