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Danger from winter weather varies across the country. However, nearly everyone regardless of where they live will likely encounter some type of winter weather at some point. Winter presents many safety challenges both indoors and out. Being prepared and following simple safety tips can help you stay safe and warm this season.

In your home, make sure heating equipment is installed properly. Have a trained specialist inspect and tune up the heating system each year. Place any portable space heaters at least three feet from items that can burn, including bedding, furniture, and clothing. Keep children and pets away from space heaters. In kerosene heaters, use only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. Never put gasoline in a kerosene heater as it could explode.

Keep on hand extra blankets, flashlights with extra batteries, matches, a first aid kit, manual can opener, snow shovel, and rock salt. Stock a few days' supply of water, necessary medications, and food that does not need to be refrigerated or cooked in case of a power outage. Monitor the temperature of your home. Infants and the elderly are especially susceptible to cold. Dress in several layers to maintain body heat.

When clearing snow and ice, dress warmly, paying special attention to feet, hands, nose, and ears. Avoid shoveling snow if you are not in good physical condition. If you have a history of heart problems, do not shovel snow unless your physician says it's okay. Take frequent breaks. If possible, push snow in front of you. If you have to lift it, pick up small amounts and lift with your legs, not your back. Use rock salt to remove ice from walkways. Sanding walkways may also prevent slipping.

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