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Prepare yourself for frigid weather

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Temperatures are plummeting across the country. Regardless of where you live, everyone will likely be exposed to severe winter weather at some point in their lives.

As the weather turns frigid, the National Safety Council urges Americans to take precautions to stay warm and safe.

More than 600 weather-related deaths occur each year, with 25 percent due to temperature extremes, according to “Injury Facts, 2014 Edition.” An average of 11,500III injuries requiring medical treatment occur each year from shoveling – more than half from exertion, 20 percent from falls and nearly 7 percent from cardiac problems, said the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

Inside the home, 50 percent of home heating fires are reported in December, January and February, according to the National Fire Protection Association.  

Follow these tips to stay safe in severe cold weather:

  • Dress warmly in layers when going outside.
  • Remember that your extremities, such as the nose, ears, hands and feet, need extra attention.
  • Pace yourself when shoveling, and stretch to warm up before you begin.
  • Shovel when the snow is freshly fallen – push it as much as possible, rather than lifting.
  • Keep all flammable materials away from heat sources, including space heaters.
  • Have your chimney inspected and cleaned annually.
  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors monthly.
  • Keep a survival kit in your vehicle, including an ice scraper and wool blanket.
  • If you become stranded, don't leave your car unless you know exactly where you are, how far it is to possible help and are certain you will improve your situation.

"Winter weather brings a whole new set of safety challenges both inside and outside of the home," said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. "Planning ahead and making the proper adjustments can keep families safe until temperatures warm back up."

Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the National Safety Council,, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to save lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact – distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, prescription drug overdoses and Safe Communities.

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