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Health

Tips for staying safe on the road and in the cold

When heading outside for winter fun, or even for a brisk walk near Jackson Street bridge (pictured above), it's important to take precautions against frostbite and hypothermia.
When heading outside for winter fun, or even for a brisk walk near Jackson Street bridge (pictured above), it's important to take precautions against frostbite and hypothermia.

State Farm provides the following tips for a safe and enjoyable winter.

• Check the temperature and the wind chill. Low wind chills and cold temperatures can cause frostbite and hypothermia.

• Warning signs of frostbite: numbness and skin that's white or grayish-yellow and unusually firm or waxy. For hypothermia: uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, slurred speech and drowsiness.

• Victims with frostbite or hypothermia need immediate medical attention.

• Layer up in wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers and a tightly woven or wind-resistant outer layer, along with a hat, water-resistant boots, and gloves or mittens. Remove layers as you warm up since sweat can aid in heat loss.

Winter activities safety tips:

• Skiing and snowboarding: take lessons on how to stop, slow down and turn. Never ski or snowboard alone. Wear a certified helmet with wraparound goggles. Use trails for your skill level. Check equipment before and after each run; secure loose straps or clothing.

• Ice skating and hockey: Ice should be six inches thick and free of debris. Avoid ice that has formed over running water. Always wear a helmet: hockey helmets offer the best protection. Wear proper hockey equipment, including pads and gloves. Learn how to properly fall on ice.

Tips for snowmobile cruising:

• Take a snowmobile or snow machine safety training course before the first outing.

• Wear a helmet that meets the current Department of Transportation certification standards, and appropriate cold weather gear, such as a snowmobile suit, snow bib, jackets and gloves.

• Go snowmobiling in groups. Notify someone where the group is headed and the expected return time.

• Check weather conditions, the machine's fuel and fluid and the machine's overall condition and operation before departing.

• Stay on designated trails. Avoid driving on ice, but if it's the only option, wear a life jacket.

• Ride sober. Avoid medications that cause drowsiness.

• Carry a first-aid kit, water and non-perishable food.

In addition, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) said drivers should blankets or sleeping bags, flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, non-perishable food, water, sand or cat littler, a shovel, booster cables and a cell phone charger.

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