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If you have to go outside in cold weather, take these precautions

Winter storms can be quiet killers. Most deaths are indirectly related to the storm, such as people dying in traffic accidents, from hypothermia or from heart attacks while shoveling snow.

Here are steps you can take to avoid harm:

Avoid overexertion, such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car or walking in deep snow. Strain from the cold and the hard labor can cause a heart attack, and sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia.

If you are caught outside in a storm:

Find shelter and try to stay dry.

Cover all exposed parts of the body.

Prepare a lean-to, windbreak or snow cave for protection from the wind and cold. Build a fire for heat and to attract attention. Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat.

Do not eat snow; it will lower your body temperatureIf you are stuck in a vehicle during a storm:

Stay in your vehicle.

Run the motor about 10 to 15 minutes each hour for heat. Open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure your exhaust pipe is not blocked.

Make yourself visible to rescuers. Turn on your dome light at night when you run your engine. Tie a colored cloth (preferably red) to your antenna or door. Raise the hood, indicating trouble, after the snow stops falling.

Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers, and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.If you are at home or in a building:

Stay inside. When using alternative heat from a fireplace, woodstove, space heater, etc., use fire safeguards and proper ventilation. Close off unneeded rooms.

Stuff towels and rags in cracks and under doors to keep the heat in. Cover windows at night to keep heat in.

Eat and drink; food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

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

IF YOU GO OUTSIDE

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 plan to drive, warm up the vehicle before getting into it.

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.

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