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Family Watchdog
Happy Holidays! We hope you and your family had a great Thanksgiving!

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Warm  With the cold season fast approaching, and here already for most of us, we wanted to highlight winter safety in this months newsletter. Too many cold weather incidents happen yearly, most of them easily prevented. Check out the following tips and pointers we have gathered for your reading (and learning) pleasure.

Protect your hands and feet. Wear mittens when possible because your fingers can share warmth (regular gloves are good, but mittens have the edge.) Wear socks that will keep your feet dry and warm. Some people wear a light liner sock made of a material that wicks away moisture next to the foot and then put a natural fiber sock over it. Try to wear the higher cut socks, not the low risers.

Protect your lips. Use lip balm to keep your lips from drying out from the cold and windy weather.

Avoid dehydration. As long as fluids are not restricted by your physician, drink plenty of water to stay well hydrated.

Dress properly. Wear outer clothing that shields the wind and sun from your skin. Cold and windy air causes a wind-chill effect that is much colder and more dangerous than the outside air temperature.

Avoid alcohol. Alcohol causes your body to lose heat, in addition to contributing to dehydration.

Be prepared. When traveling by car, keep extra socks, blankets, water and snacks on hand in case a mechanical problem, storm or empty gas tank leaves you stranded. (see below for car safety)

Inquire about your meds. Ask your physician or pharmacist if any of the medications you take can make you more susceptible to a cold-weather illness.

Protect your children. Instruct the kids to come inside when they feel cold, or if their clothes get wet.

Play it safe. Because they pose a strangulation risk, it's best not to wrap children in scarves. Instead, use a neck "gaiter", which stays in place and keeps your child warm without risk.

Eat light. A snack before going out in the cold is better than a heavy meal, which requires a large blood flow to the gastrointestinal system to aid in digestion. The digestive process may prevent warm blood from circulating to your fingers and toes. Save the heavier meal for when you are safely back inside.

Just as you dress yourself in extra layers and winterize your house to protect it from the cold, your car needs extra preparation to make it through the winter as well. But getting ready is only half the battle. Winter driving conditions also make driving differently. Snow and ice need to be taken seriously and prepared for.
 
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Snow  This winter, make sure your car is as prepared as you are. Going the extra mile by getting your vehicle ready for winter and learning what it takes to drive safely through ice and snow could save your life and others.

Some of the following tips can be performed by any do-it-yourselfer; others require the skilled hands of a professional auto technician.

Engine Performance
Have a funny humming? Get engine driveability problems corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather makes existing problems worse.

Fuel
a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Try to keep your gas tank over a quarter full so it does not freeze.

Oil
Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual — more often (every 3,000 miles) if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips.

Cooling Systems
The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a pro.

Windshield Wipers
Replace old blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice build-up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent-you'll be surprised how much you use. Carry an ice-scraper.

Heater/Defroster
The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility.

Battery
The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly. Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.

Lights
Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses.

Exhaust System
Your vehicle should be placed on a lift and the exhaust system examined for leaks. The trunk and floor boards should be inspected for small holes. Exhaust fumes can be deadly.

Tires
Worn tires will be of little use in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressures once a month. Check the tires when they are cold, before driving for any distance. Rotate as recommended. Don't forget your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.

Carry Emergency Gear
Make an auto safety kit: http://weather.about.com/od/winterweather/ht/autosafetykits.htm

Also, if you are new to driving in the cold, have a new car, or just want a yearly refreshing, check out the following link on some helpful driving safety tips: http://www.weather.com/activities/driving/drivingsafety/drivingsafetytips/snow.html
 
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We hope you take in the info that we provide in every newsletter. As always, we wish you safe, warm and Happy Holidays with your family and loved ones. Be Smart, Be Safe. Awareness is your best defense!
 

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