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Keep warm, stay safe

By Mary Krueger - Douglas County Senior Coordinator

With the extreme cold we’ve been having and the increased fuel prices, it’s important to keep safety top of mind. Here are just a few things to remember:

Heat your home safely. When using a wood stove, fireplace or space heater, be extremely careful. Use fireplaces and wood stoves only if they are properly vented outside and do not leak flue gas inside. Do not burn paper in the fireplace. Do not put a space heater within three feet of anything that may catch on fire, including drapes, furniture or bedding. Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water. Never leave children unattended around a space heater. Avoid using extension cords with a space heater.

Eat and drink wisely. Eating well balanced meals will help you stay warmer. Do not drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages – they cause your body to lose heat more rapidly. Drink warm, sweet beverages or broth to maintain your body temperature.

Dress warmly and stay dry. Wear a hat, scarf or knit mask to cover your face and mouth. Wear sleeves that are snug around the wrist and remember, mittens are warmer than gloves. Wear several layers of loose fitting clothing. Be sure the outer layer of your clothing is tightly woven and preferably wind resistant. Wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton. Avoid getting gasoline or alcohol on your skin while de-icing and fueling your car or using your snow blower. These materials in contact with your skin greatly increase heat loss from the body. Do not ignore shivering; it’s an important first sign that the body is losing heat.

Be cautious about travel. Listen to radio or television reports of travel advisories. Do not travel in low visibility conditions. Avoid travel on ice-covered roads, overpasses and bridges. Let someone know your destination and when you expect to arrive. Always carry additional warm clothing appropriate for winter conditions.