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Red Cross safety tips for cold, snowy weather

February 6, 2013
Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

With cold temperatures and snow, the American Red Cross of Southwestern New York urges residents to be prepared.

Exposure to cold and snow can cause injury or serious illness such as frostbite or hypothermia, and as temperatures drop, people may resort to alternative heat sources, which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning or fires. The Red Cross offers these tips to stay safe in the cold weather:

Use generators correctly - never operate a generator inside the home, including the basement or garage. Do not hook up a generator directly to the home's wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment needed directly to the outlets on the generator;

Prevent frozen pipes - when the weather is very cold outside, open cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around water pipes. Let cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes;

Don't forget family pets - bring them indoors. If that's not possible, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure they can get to unfrozen water;

Avoid using a stove or oven to heat the home - keep a glass or metal fire screen around the fireplace and never leave a fireplace fire unattended; and

If using a space heater, place it on a level, hard, nonflammable surface - turn the space heater off when leaving the room or going to sleep. Keep children and pets away from the space heater and do not use it to dry wet clothing.

When traveling in the winter:

Carry an emergency preparedness kit in the trunk;

Keep the car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing;

If someone does get stuck, stay with the car. Do not try to walk to safety;

Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car;

Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running to help rescuers see the vehicle; and

Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.

If you have to go outside:

Dressing in several layers of lightweight clothing keeps someone warmer than a single heavy coat;

Mittens provide more warmth to the hands than gloves. Wear a hat, preferably one that covers the ears; and

Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep feet warm and dry and to maintain footing in ice and snow.

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