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January 2009

With its cold and often stormy weather, 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.

Clearing Snow and Ice

Clearing snow and ice from driveways and sidewalks is hard work; to prevent injuries, follow these safety tips:

  • Dress warmly, paying special attention to feet, hands, nose, and ears.
  • Avoid shoveling snow if you are out of shape. If you have a history of heart trouble, do not shovel snow unless your doctor says it's okay.
  • Do light warm-up exercises before shoveling and 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. Do not toss snow over your shoulder or to the side.
  • Don't drink alcohol before or while shoveling snow. Never smoke while shoveling.
  • Use rock salt or de-icing compounds to remove ice from steps, walkways, and sidewalks. Sand placed on walkways may also help prevent slipping.

Driving Safely in Winter Weather

Snow, ice, and extreme cold can make driving treacherous; these safety tips can help make winter car travel safer:

  • Before winter arrives, have your car tuned up, check the level of antifreeze, make sure the battery is good, and check your tire tread or put on snow tires.
  • Keep emergency gear in your car for everyday trips:
    • cell phone
    • flashlight
    • jumper cables
    • sand or kitty litter (for traction)
    • ice scraper, snow brush, and small shovel
    • blankets
    • warning devices (e.g., flares, reflectors)
  • For long car trips, keep food, water, extra blankets, and required medication on hand.
  • Avoid driving in snow or ice storms. If you must travel in bad weather, drive slowly. Let someone know what route you're taking and when you plan to arrive so they can alert authorities if you don't get there.
  • If your car is parked outside, make sure the exhaust pipe and the area around it are free of snow before you start the car. Snow packed in or around the exhaust pipe can cause high levels of carbon monoxide in the car.
  • Don't sit in a parked car with the engine running unless a window is open. Do not let your car run while parked in a garage.

Walking In A Winter Wonderland

Walking in icy, snowy weather can be dangerous, but these tips can help make your trek safer:

  • Dress in layers and wear boots with nonskid soles. Wear a bright scarf or hat or reflective gear so drivers can see you.
  • Walk on sidewalks if possible. If sidewalks are covered in snow and ice and you must walk in the street, walk against the flow of traffic and as close to the curb as you can.
  • Don't wear a hat or scarf that blocks your vision or makes it hard for you to hear traffic.
  • When traveling with babies or small children, dress them in bright or reflective clothing. Always keep children--whether in a stroller or on foot--in front of you and as close to the curb as possible.
  • Before you step off the curb, make sure oncoming cars and trucks have come to a complete stop.


The data and safety tips in this fact sheet were obtained from the following source:


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