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Now is the time to prepare for winter weather

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. ? The 434th Air Refueling Wing?s safety office has some tips for how to remain safe when traveling in winter weather. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner)

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. ? The 434th Air Refueling Wing?s safety office has some tips for how to remain safe when traveling in winter weather. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- Winter in Indiana can be a dangerous time of year. As hazards build up it is important to know how to stay safe.

Grissom’s base safety office has some tips to avoid injury this winter.

Always dress appropriately for the weather. It is recommended you wear at least three layers of loose fitting clothing. The layers should include an inner layer of wool, silk or synthetic (polypropylene) to keep moisture away from the body, a middle layer of wool or synthetic to provide insulation even when wet, and an outer wind and rain protection layer which allows some ventilation to prevent overheating. You should also wear water resistant boots, gloves and coats as necessary.

When driving it is important to take your time and be cautious. Remove any snow or ice on your vehicle’s windows, lights, brake lights and signals. Make sure you can see and be seen. Give yourself plenty of time to stop at lights and stop signs and be aware the roads might be icy. Accelerate slowly to avoid slipping or sliding. Make sure to avoid abrupt steering maneuvers as they can cause sliding.

It is also important to keep emergency gear in your car, including a cell phone, flashlight, jumper cables, sand or kitty litter, ice scraper/snow brush, small shovel, blankets, and warning devices. For longer trips take food, water, extra blankets, and required medication. Ensuring that you have the appropriate emergency equipment before the harsh weather sets in means you won’t have to worry about leaving behind when you need it.

Driving isn’t the only time you should be careful and look out for ice. If possible you should walk on sidewalks. If they are icy and you must take to the streets, walk against the flow of traffic and as close to the curb as you can. Walking on ice is extremely dangerous. Many cold-weather injuries result from falls on ice-covered sidewalks, steps, driveways, and porches. Keep your steps and walkways as free of ice as possible by using rock salt or another chemical de-icing compound. Sand may also be used on walkways to reduce the risk of slipping.

When clearing snow around your house 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 approves. Pace yourself and don’t work to the point of exhaustion. Shoveling can raise your heart rate and blood pressure dramatically. 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. Never put your hand in the snow blower to remove snow or debris. Turn it off and wait a few seconds, then use a stick or broom handle.

Winter safety is as important inside your house as it is outside. Be sure to install a smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm near your bedrooms and on each floor.

As many people begin to prepare for the holidays it means a lot of cooking. It is important to remember to not leave your oven or stove on when you leave the house. Also never leave fireplace fires or candles unattended.

It is also important to know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath.

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. Men and women from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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