Tips for coping with winter weather

Saturday, December 2, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:15 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

To avoid the hazards associated with winter storms, be sure to mind the following cold weather safety tips:

If you aren’t regularly exercising, don’t try to start by shoveling your driveway. Any sudden aerobic exercise could put you at risk for a heart attack. It’s better to hire a fit, active neighbor or child to shovel or perform any other work that could be physically exhausting.

Dress warm when outdoors. Wear layers and don’t forget a hat — more than 50 percent of your body heat can be lost through your head. Wear mittens if you have them, they’ll keep your hands warmer than gloves. And make sure you’re footwear is waterproof when in the snow. If you don't have waterproof boots, you can use plastic bags as liners inside tennis shoes.

If you or your children have been playing outdoors, make sure to change out of wet, cold clothes immediately after going back inside. Hot chocolate or other warm drinks and blankets should be used to warm up.

Beware of frostbite. If you feel tingling sensations on your nose, ears, toes and fingers, you may have the early stages of frostbite. If you notice frostbite, slowly warm the skin, but don’t rub the affected area — you could make things worse.

Take care of your pets. Outdoor pets animals need additional care during cold spells and snow. Make sure any outdoor animals have dry bedding and an area that is large enough for some mobility, but not so large that body heat is lost. Give the animals more food than usual to help them get through the cold.

If you are using a space heater, be careful where you put it. Space heaters should be placed at least a foot from flammable items such as curtains.

Avoid alcohol and drink lots of water. The alcohol can adversely affect a stable body temperature.

Sources: and the American Red Cross

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