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How can I stay safe in cold weather?

Here are the top ways for you and your pets to stay safe when it gets cold outside, according to the American Red Cross:
  1. Wear layers of clothing to stay warm. Put on a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.
  2. Keep your water running. Let the faucets trickle. This helps prevent pipes from freezing and breaking.
  3. Be extremely careful if you have to shovel snow. Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
  4. Watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include changes in skin color and feeling. You may have white, blue or yellow skin, numbness and waxy feeling skin.
  5. Bring your pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have warm shelter and have access to water that will not freeze. 
  6. Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities, and those with children.
  7. Avoid driving on snow-covered roads, if possible. If you must travel, keep a disaster supply kit in your vehicle. Fill up your gas tank before a winter storm hits. 
  8. If your car breaks down, stay in the car. Don't try to walk to get help. Instead, tie a bright cloth to the antenna. Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Make sure the exhaust pipe is clear. Keep one window away from the wind slightly open.
  9. If heating your home with a fireplace, always use a screen. Make sure the fire is completely out before you leave it unattended. Place any space heaters on a hard, level surface.
  10. If your power goes out, use flashlights. Do not use candles as a light source. Also, never use the stove or oven to heat your home. And don't use a generator indoors, either. The fumes can be deadly.
If you do not have power or heat for more than a few hours or adequate supplies to stay warm at home, you may want to go to a designated public shelter. Only go if you can get there safely. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code (example:  SHELTER23114) to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest one in your area.

This content originally appeared on hcavirginiaphysicians.com
 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.