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November 30, 2012

Be wise to winter's hidden hazards

With the first signs of snow of our lawns and rooftops recently, we know it’s that time of year again, when we must dig winter boots out of our closets and hunt down our snow shovels for the driveway and ice scrapers for the car.

The cold weather that seems to envelop our area for months on end does have its share of dangers and hazards. Slipping on black ice, sliding on roadways in blinding snow, suffering from frostbite and dealing with fires in chimneys or from space heaters are just a few of these obstacles.

You can help protect your health and safety and that of your loved ones with some simple precautions.

While outside, make walking and moving around easier for you and your neighbors by keeping sidewalks clear of snow and ice. If you have neighbors unable to shovel their driveway or sidewalk because of health issues or age, be kind and assist them. This could prevent accidents or slips for everyone. In addition, some municipalities require residents to park off streets during heavy snow or to keep their sidewalks clear. Be aware of these regulations.

Make sure when you’re shoveling, hanging holiday decorations or enjoying the quiet beauty of a snowy day that you wear proper footwear — shoes or boots with enough traction and warmth to keep your feet safe from frostbite and hypothermia.

The same goes for the rest of you: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a hat, a scarf or knit mask to cover your face and mouth, mittens, a water-resistant coat and several layers of loose-fitting clothing. Remember to stay dry — wet clothing chills the body rapidly — and not overexert yourself in your outdoors tasks because your body is already working hard to keep you warm.

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