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Layer up when you go out in cold weather - and shovel safely

If you must go outside during freezing or below-freezing weather, do the following to keep warm:

Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating, perspiration and subsequent chill.

Wear scarves to protect your neck, head and chest.

Keep your head covered with a thermal cap with earflaps.

If possible, wear a pair of thermal gloves underneath a pair of mittens. That will let you manipulate your fingers while having the hand enveloped in warmth.

Wear at least two pair of thick socks underneath lined boots.

If you are in a wheelchair, wrap a small lap blanket around your legs, tucking it in on the sides or underneath yourself.

If you use a working-assistance dog, have a blanket for him to sit or lay on in your vehicle. Also, use a dog coat for him to wear underneath his regular harness. Consider dog boots for his feet.

Check your feet, hands and pelvic area for circulation problems. That’s important for people who use wheelchairs, because feeling in those areas may be limited or absent.

Limit the time you spend outside.

If you become chilled outside, go back inside and warm up slowly. Do not jump into a hot bath; you may go into shock.

TAKE PRECAUTIONS WHEN SHOVELING

Keep your spine in an upright, neutral position. No slouching or twisting. Bend at the hips and knees to get lower to the ground, and use your leg muscles to lift the load.

Avoid throwing the snow if possible. Keep the load low to the ground and close to your body; don't try to throw it halfway across the yard.

The biggest mistake people make when shoveling snow is twisting at the waist or spine combined with bending.

Know when to quit. Adequate rest is crucial. How long you can work depends on how heavy the snow is, your physical condition and how cold it is outside. If you feel tired, in pain or short of breath, rest until you feel normal again.

If the shortness of breath persists, go inside and take a longer break. Seek medical attention if it doesn't ease up.

PRACTICE SAFE SLEDDING, TOO

Don't let young children sled alone. Kids 5 to 9 are most likely to be hurt.

Keep your sled and toboggan in good shape. Watch for broken parts, sharp edges, cracks and split wood.

Sled on open, gentle hills with a level landing area. Avoid steep hills and one near streets. Avoid trees, fences, rocks, hydrants and poles.

Check sledding areas for bare spots, ruts and other things that could injure people.

Don't sled near frozen lakes, streams or ponds. The ice might not hold.

When sledding, sit or lay on your back with your feet pointed downhill.

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