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Editorial: Navigate winter safety

Winter's a time of the year when it's been said the weather's often not fit for man nor beast.

What does that mean for pedestrians using walkways? Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing has shared the following precautions to help reduce the risk of falling when slippery conditions exist:

--Wear boots or overshoes with grip soles such as rubber and neoprene composite. Slick leather or plastic soles on shoes will definitely increase the risk of slipping.

--When getting out of a vehicle, look down at the surface. If it's coated with ice, consider parking in a different place.

--Use special care when entering or exiting vehicles. Use the vehicle for support. Before standing, get braced with the vehicle door and seat back, which will provide some stability.

--Step--don't jump--from vehicles and equipment.

--Don't walk with hands in pockets. This reduces the ability to use arms for balance in case of slipping.

--Take short shuffling steps in very icy areas.

--Don't carry or swing heavy loads. Large boxes, cases or purses may cause loss of balance when walking.

--When walking, curl toes under and walk as flat-footed as possible.

--Don't step on uneven surfaces. Avoid curbs with ice on them.

--Keep full attention on walking. Digging in a pocketbook or backpack while walking on ice is dangerous.

With the cold days of winter here, a specialist in veterinary emergency and critical care medicine from BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Minnesota offers this advice about pets:

--If suspecting a pet has come into contact with antifreeze, contact a veterinarian immediately. The success of treatment to antifreeze exposure depends on quick action.

--If pets begin to shiver or their ears, tail and feet show signs of frostbite such as redness in the early stages and pale, white or patches in more advanced cases of frostbite, bring them inside immediately.

--Similar to when it's hot outside, never leave a pet alone in a vehicle during cold weather either. In the winter, a vehicle holds in the cold like a refrigerator and a pet could potentially freeze to death.

--Prevent ice and snow from accumulating between a pet's toes, as well as de-icers which can cause a lot of irritation to their paws, plus the potential for them to become ill if they lick these chemicals off their feet, by rinsing and/or wiping those feet when the animals come in from being outdoors. If possible, buy pet-safe salted de-icers for the entryway.

--Especially in the winter, when ice and snow can mask scents and pets can more easily lose their way, it's important they always wear identification tags.

--If a pet is having trouble getting up or laying down, walking the stairs or has started to cry when being picked up, it may be due to arthritis and a visit to the veterinarian is in order. Never medicate a dog or cat with human prescriptions or over-the-counter medications without consulting a veterinarian first. Most of them are toxic for pets; numerous arthritis treatments are available for them.

--A dog or cat deserves a comfortable bed, so check with the pet and feed stores carrying safe heated floor mats or non-electric warm bedding.

--If leaving water outside for pets, be sure it doesn't freeze.

--If an animal is near a vehicle's engine when the car is started, serious injury can occur.

--It can take only a few minutes for a small pet to die inside a sealed garage with a vehicle running.

--Keep pets and people away from ponds, rivers and lakes, where ice covering them may not be solid. Ice may be thicker at the shoreline, but too thin to hold up a pet or person further out. If they do fall in, call for help quickly!