Staying safe around the home this winter

THE SCOOP ON SNOW SHOVELING

Individuals over the age of 40, or those who are relatively inactive, should be especially careful. If you have a history of heart trouble, check with your doctor before shoveling.

Avoid shoveling after eating or while smoking.

Take it easy. Snow shoveling is a weight-lifting exercise that raises your heart rate and blood pressure. Warm up before starting the job and stretch both before and after shoveling. If possible,
shovel only fresh snow — it is easier to shovel than wet, packed-down snow.

Push the snow forward rather than lifting it out of the way; pick up only small amounts when needed. Your back will thank you. As with any lifting activity, use your legs, not your back. Keep your knees bent and your back straight. Bend and "sit" into the movement, allowing large muscle groups to do most of the work.

Never work to the point of exhaustion. Take frequent breaks. If your chest feels tight, stop immediately. Dress as you would for any outdoor activity. Dressing in layers is best. Take extra precautions to keep hands and feet warm.

BE FIRE FREE, WATER THE TREE

According to the National Fire Protection Association, Christmas trees accounted for 250 fires annually, resulting in 14 deaths, 26 injuries and more than $13.8 million in damages from 2003-2007.

Always be sure to make a fresh cut of at least 1/2 inch off the trunk before you place it in the stand to ensure the tree will take water.

Keep the tree properly watered through the holiday season.

Be especially careful near the end of the season when the tree eventually begins to dry out, despite it being properly watered.

Never place an open flame near the tree, and locate the tree away from any heat sources. (Never leave a space heater un-attended and keep it away from any flamable materials!!)

Limit the amount of time the lights on the tree are illuminated.

CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING

Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors can be purchased commercially and may be your only defense against this colorless and odorless gas that can have fatal results in your home.

CO poisoning is especially prevalent in the winter when houses are sealed from the outside.

High levels of CO inhalation will yield a deficiency of oxygen within the blood, as CO is picked up much quicker by red blood cells compared to oxygen.

The following are some symptoms of CO poisoning:
-Headache
-Dizziness
-Weakness
-Nausea
-Vomiting
-Chest pain
-Confusion

Here are some easy ways to reduce the chance of CO poisoning within your home:
-Never use a gas range or oven for heating your home.
-Always run your generator or use any grill outdoors, away from any air intakes to your home.
-Never run a vehicle in a garage with the door shut.
-Have your heating system, water heating or other gas, oil or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician each year.