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Need to shovel the driveway or drive in the snow? Tips on how to deal with the white stuff this winter

Time to walk like a penguin. Here's the proper way to shovel without causing injuries and safety tips for driving and walking in snow and ice.

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Many who enjoy winter – and more who don’t – will agree we don't like clearing snow from driveways and sidewalks.

Snow can cause quite a few problems, including slippery sideways for walkers and icy roads for drivers. Those shoveling snow can risk sudden cardiac arrest.

More than 150,000 auto crashes occur annually due to slick roads, according to the Federal Highway Administration. With 70% of U.S. roads in snowy areas, millions of people are at risk of accidents.

Here are some tips on safely and efficiently dealing with snow:

Prevent injury while shoveling

Cold winter weather can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Shoveling snow has resulted in thousands of injuries and can cause a fatal heart attack.

When a snow blower is unavailable, here is the best way to prevent injury:

• Dress warmly. Extremities, such as ears and feet, need extra coverage. It's best to warm your body up before you start shoveling. Do some light exercises for about 10 minutes, to help prevent injuries. 

• If possible, shovel newly fallen snow, which will be lighter. A cubic foot of dry powdery snow can weigh 3 pounds, while a cubic foot of wet and heavy snow can weigh up to 10 pounds. Lifting heavy snow can put too much stress on your spine. 

• Be sure to pace yourself. Take several breaks when you are tired and drink plenty of water. Dehydration can affect your muscles.

What age is too old to shovel snow? Experts say it might be best to leave the shoveling for someone else.

Hidden dangers of ice

When it comes to staying safe while walking on slick surfaces this winter, do your best penguin impression.

In order to prevent falls on slick ice:

• Wear slip-resistant footwear.

• Take short, shuffling steps – similar to a penguin's walk – to maintain your balance.

• Keep your arms at your sides.

• Maintain the center of gravity over your front leg. 

Precautions while driving in winter weather

Driving in snow can be treacherous. Here’s what to do if you get caught in a winter storm:

• If you get stuck and can't dig out, stay with the vehicle and don't walk outside in severe weather. 

• Keep a dome light on because it uses a small amount of electricity.

• Attach a brightly colored cloth to the car window. 

• Conserve gas by turning the engine on periodically to warm the car. 

• Make sure the tailpipe is clear of snow.

Recovering from a skid

If your car starts to skid, steer it in the direction you want the car to go. Avoid slamming or pumping the brake pedal.

Contributing April Barton, Burlington Free Press; Jay Cannon, USA TODAY

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