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updated: 12/12/2012 11:16 AM

Winter can be a wonderland with these safety tips

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David Hass

DUPAGE COUNTY--Winter can be a great time to enjoy the outdoors so the DuPage County Health Department offers some suggestions to avoid winter's woes:

Snow shoveling. You should avoid shoveling snow unless you are in good physical condition. If you become breathless, stop, go indoors and warm up before continuing. Overexertion can cause heart attacks and lifting heavy snow can cause back ailments.

Winter sports safety. If you skate on a lake or a pond, take safety precautions. Do not skate unless the ice has a uniform thickness of at least 4 inches. Have rescue devises, such as a rope, ladder and blankets on hand. Do not skate alone. If you are snowmobiling, do not travel on lakes or rivers without knowing the ice conditions. To be safe, there should be 8 inches of clear ice. While snowmobiling, also be aware that heavy or drifting snow can obscure fences, tree stumps and uneven ground. Also, be especially careful if a child is your passenger.

Frostbite. When spending long periods of time outdoors during cold weather, be alert for signs of frostbite. It initially occurs in the nose, ears, fingers and toes, and can happen at any temperature below 32 degrees. Frostbitten skin is whitish and feels numb. Children are especially susceptible to frostbite because they can become so engrossed in their play that they overlook discomfort. To prevent frostbite, wear hats that cover the ears, scarves or masks to cover the face, and several layers of clothing to trap body heat. Mittens are better than gloves.

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