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Red Cross offers holiday and cold weather safety tips

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Published on Mon, Dec 14, 2009 by JOURNAL STAFF

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The Northwest winter has arrived and brought the holiday season along with it. The American Red Cross offers some safety tips to prepare you and your family for a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

“During this 2009/2010 holiday season there is the possibility of cold weather or flooding similar to what we’ve seen over the past few years,” said Chuck Morrison, Executive Director for the Snohomish County Chapter Red Cross. “Any preparation you do today will help your family safely get through the kinds of disasters which strike our area.”

As you travel during this holiday season make sure to prepare ahead of time to be protected against extreme weather conditions.  Exposure to cold can cause injury or serious illness, including frostbite and hypothermia. The likelihood of injury or illness depends on such factors as physical activity, clothing, wind, humidity, working and living conditions, and a person’s age and general state of health. But we can all be a bit safer with some forethought.

Follow these tips to stay safe in cold weather and enjoy your holiday season:
Holiday traveling and winter can be a dangerous combination. Allow extra time when traveling. Monitor weather conditions carefully and adhere to travel advisories.

Keep a winter storm survival kit in your car. This should include blankets, food, flares, chains, gloves and first aid supplies.  To purchase a disaster or emergency road kit, please visit our online store at www.snohomishcounty.redcross.org.

Designate a driver. When attending a party, always designate a non-drinking driver. If you are the host of a holiday gathering, be sure there are non-alcoholic beverages available for guests who are driving.
Buckle up. During the holiday months, people travel more than ever. Wearing a seat belt is the easiest and best way to prevent injury in a motor vehicle collision. Ensure that all passengers are also wearing safety belts.
Always be careful with holiday candles. Avoid using candles during parties. Take special care when burning candles and make sure they are never left unattended. Be sure they are kept away from decorations and other combustible materials. Don’t leave children unattended in a room with lit candles, and always keep candles, as well as matches and lighters, out of the reach of children. Never display lighted candles in windows or near exits.
Decorate only with flame-retardant or noncombustible materials. If guests will be smoking, provide them with large, deep ashtrays and check them frequently. After the party, check inside and under upholstery and in trash cans for cigarette butts that may be smoldering. If you plan to hang stockings on your fireplace, do not use the fireplace for fires.

Dress appropriately before going outdoors. The air temperature does not have to be below freezing for someone to experience cold emergencies such as hypothermia and frostbite. Wind speed can create dangerously cold conditions even when the temperature is not that low. If possible, dress in multiple thin layers so you can adjust to changing conditions. Avoid overdressing or overexertion that can lead to heat illness.

For more safety tips and information on flooding please visit www.snohomishcounty.redcross.org or www.redcrosswashington.org.

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