Some tips to help you stay warm and safe during the wintry weather this weekend

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The American Red Cross has some tips to help you stay warm — while staying safe — during the wintry weather expected this weekend.

“The best way to stay safe in the winter is to prepare your home, your family and your pets before the temperatures drop and the snow and ice start to fall,” said Barry Porter, regional CEO of the non-profit organization for eastern North Carolina.

“The Red Cross encourages families to be careful when heating their homes with radiators, to dress in layers before going out and to bring pets indoors,” he said.

AT HOME

— Fatal fires peak early in the morning, when most people are asleep. So remember that radiators, fireplaces, and wood and coal stoves are a fire hazard.

— Keep children, pets and flammable objects at least three feet from heating equipment.

— If you must use a space heater, place it on a flat, hard, non-flammable surface and turn it off whenever you leave the room or go to sleep.

— Plug power cords directly into outlets — never into extension cords.

— Never leave a fire unattended and use a glass or metal spark screen.

— Never heat your home with a charcoal or gas stove, oven or grill.

OUTSIDE

— Wear layered clothing, hand coverings and a hat.

— Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from the cold air.

— Look for signs of hypothermia.

— Stay dry and change wet clothes often to avoid loss of body heat.

— Before going out, stretch to warm up your body, especially if you are about to shovel snow.

— Avoid overexertion — such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a vehicle, or walking in deep snow — as straining and working could cause a heart attack and sweating could lead to hypothermia.

IN THE CAR

— Keep a few things in your car: A windshield scraper, a small broom, a small bag of sand (to create traction under the wheels) and snow chains or traction mats, matches (in a container waterproof), a bright color (preferably red) cloth to attach to the antenna, and an emergency kit including warm clothing.

— Keep your gas tank full.

— Do not follow other vehicles closely.

— Do not use cruise control.

— Do not pass the snowplows.

— If you get stuck, stay in the car and wait for help. Do not go for help unless it is visible within 100 yards. To stay warm, run the engine occasionally – 10 minutes every hour or 5 minutes every half hour – to save fuel and reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow and open a leeward window slightly for ventilation.

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