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If there is one old fella we all wish had a memory problem, it would be “Old Man Winter.” However, every year he remembers to come back around. He remembers to bring his bag of tricks including snow, sleet, ice, bitter winds, and frigid temperatures. When he does, winter preparedness becomes our annual job. It’s up to us to remember what actions to take in order to remain safe in extreme cold winter weather.

With much of the United States being exposed to temperatures below freezing, there is great need for men, women, and children to take the proper precautions. This extremely cold time of the year presents dangerous and potentially life-threatening conditions.

Here are some winter preparedness tips to help you and your loved ones to stay safe during extreme cold weather:

– Weather-proof the doors and windows of your home in an effort to trap heat inside.

· Have your heating units checked. Poor performing or damaged heating units can release deadly carbon monoxide gas. If you have carbon monoxide detectors, be sure to test them for proper function and battery life.

– It sounds painfully obvious, but remain indoors as much as you can. If you do have to go outside, be sure to wear protective clothing. The layering effect works well. This includes wearing a warm coat, a hat, as well as gloves or mittens. Remember, a scarf isn’t just for adding style or fashion. You help to protect your lungs from the cold when you wear a scarf.

– If you are exposed to extreme cold temperatures, be sure to keep watch for signs of frostbite. The signs could include loss of feeling in your face, fingers, and toes. You could also develop a pale appearance in these areas.

– Be aware of the signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering and teeth chattering, drowsiness, exhaustion, and even memory loss.

– Remember the dangers of the wind and wind chill. Understand winter winds can easily lead to severe hypothermia. This is because as the wind speed increases, heat is carried away from you body much more quickly.

– Be sure to remove all wet clothing as quickly as possible. Continuing to wear wet or even damp clothes can place you at greater risk for hypothermia.

– Be kind and considerate in checking on those friends, neighbors, and family members who may be at risk during winter weather conditions and may require added assistance.

– Keep a watchful eye on your pets and keep them indoors as much as possible. Animals also are prone to suffering from frostbite, hypothermia, and other extreme cold winter weather injuries.

· Check your emergency preparedness kit for both your home and your vehicle. If you don’t have emergency preparedness kits, be sure to make them. Items include a supply of freeze dried food and/or dehydrated food, fresh drinking water, flashlight with batteries, fire starter, battery powered radio, blankets, clothes, tools, medicines, first aid items, etc.

– Plan travel carefully. If auto travel is necessary, try to maintain a full tank of gas. Stick to the roads you know best and know to be safe. Keep an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle with warm clothing and blankets, and a supply of food and water. Try to keep a full charge on your cellphone. If you have room pack a shovel and rock salt. All of these winter preparedness items could save your life if you ever were to become stranded.