Cold Counsel

Don't drive in cold weather unless your vehicle's tires are properly inflated and the gas tank is relatively full.
Don't drive in cold weather unless your vehicle's tires are properly inflated and the gas tank is relatively full. (By John A. Bone -- Associated Press)

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Winter is here, coming in on a mellow note, but its mere arrival forecasts potentially severe weather that could lead to injury -- and even death -- from exposure to the cold and from accidents, including the improper use of room heaters.

Fairfax County has pulled together tips from its agencies and also groups such as the National Weather Service and the American Red Cross to help residents get through the cold season without calamity. There are also phone numbers to call in case a major winter storm hits and leaves homes without heat, roads impassable or people trapped in a car.

When going outside, always keep the windchill factor in mind to determine just how harsh conditions are. The National Weather Service points out that the windchill factor measures the cooling effects of air and wind on exposed skin -- based on heat loss. So as the wind increases, the body's heat is carried away more quickly, making skin temperature and then internal temperature drop.

Here are the tips:

OUTSIDE

Dressing

If you are going to be outside, the Red Cross suggests that you dress appropriately and remember that temperatures need not be below freezing to cause health problems:

· Dress in layers so you can adjust to changing conditions. Wear a hat, because a substantial amount of heat is lost through the head. Don't overdress or overexert, because either can lead to heat illness.

· If you do not need your fingers free, wear mittens for more warmth than gloves provide.


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