Winter has finally arrived and with it comes safety risks that can be managed with a little attention and preparation. Here are some tips to keep safe all winter long:

Dressing for the Weather

•Dress for the cold. Hypothermia can occur when your body temperature drops below normal and can be very dangerous. Before you head outside, remember COLD:

COVER                 wear a hat, scarf, gloves and heavy coat to prevent body heat loss

OVER-EXERT        avoid activities that could cause you to sweat or overwork yourself

LAYERS                wear loose-fitting and layered clothing to hold in body heat

DRY                     stay as dry as possible, especially your hands and feet

•Wear appropriate footwear such as nonslip rubber or neoprene boots with grooved soles to prevent slips and falls that could result in unnecessary injury. Assume all wet, dark surfaces on pavement are slippery. Take short steps and point your feet out slightly like a penguin to increase your center of gravity and balance.

•Sunny winter days are beautiful, but the sun’s reflection off of the snow can be blinding. Wear protective sunglasses to help maintain visibility and keep your eyes safe.

Shoveling Snow

•Take care when maintaining your outdoor space. It’s important to keep sidewalks clear, but physical activity in the cold increases heart rate and blood pressure putting you at risk for potentially serious injuries. This is true even in healthy people, but those who are over 40 or relatively inactive should be especially careful. The National Safety Council recommends the following:

•Do not shovel after eating or while smoking

•Take it slow and stretch before you begin

•Shovel only fresh, powdery snow

•Push the snow, don’t lift it

•If you do life it, use a small shovel and only fill it partially

•Lift with your legs, not your back

•Do not pick up a shovel without a doctor’s permission if you have a history of heart disease.

Looking Out for Others

•Animals get cold too. Just because they have a layer of fur doesn’t mean they aren’t susceptible to hypothermia. Don’t let them stay outdoors longer than necessary.

•Look out for neighbors who may not be able to take care of their homes when the weather turns. Check in with them periodically to make sure they have what they need and are staying safe.

•When driving, snow and black ice are common problems in winter. Drive slowly, and remain distraction free to maintain attention to the conditions and actions of those around you.

Follow these tips for a safe and healthy winter season.