Health Briefs: Tips offered for snow blower safety |

Health Briefs: Tips offered for snow blower safety

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute encourages home and business owners to ready snow throwers now for wintry weather and review safe operating procedures

“Weather today is more unpredictable than ever, and you need to have your snow thrower serviced and ready to power up,” OPEI President and CEO Kris Kiser said in a press release. “You want to have the right fuel on hand and review your owner’s manual now, so you can use your equipment safely.”

Kiser said preparation is key, adding that home and business owners should consider the following tips.

Prepare before it snows: Review the owner’s manual for safe handling procedures. Most manuals are also available online. Review particularly how to operate the controls, so the equipment can be shut off quickly, if necessary.
Check your equipment: The snow thrower should be completely powered off when during checks. If the fuel was not drained the previous winter it should be drained now. Adjust any cables, and check the auger.
Store equipment for easy access: Move equipment to a convenient and accessible location, so it can be readily accessed when needed.
Purchase fuel: Often, gas stations are closed following a storm. Be sure to use the correct fuel, as recommended by the equipment’s manufacturer (for more information on fueling properly, visit Fill the fuel tank outside before starting the engine and while the engine is cold. Never add fuel to a running or hot engine.
Store fuel properly: Place fuel in a fuel container, and label it with the date purchased and the ethanol content of the fuel. Fuel that is more than 30 days old can phase separate and cause operating problems. It’s important to use fresh fuel in snow throwers. Be sure fuel is stored safely and out of the reach of children.
Tidy the area to be cleared: Snow can sometimes hide objects. Doormats, hoses, balls, toys, boards, wires and other debris should be removed. When run over by a snow thrower, these objects may harm the machine or people.
Plan to dress for winter weather: Locate safety gear now, and place it in an accessible closet or location. Plan to wear safety glasses, gloves, and footwear that can handle cold and slippery surfaces.
Following are tips for safe operation
Key safety tip: Never put hands inside the auger or chute. Use a clean out tool (or stick) to unclog snow or debris from a snow thrower. Hands should never be placed inside the auger or chute.
Turn off the snow thrower before clearing a clog. Before removing debris or unclogging snow, turn off the snow thrower, and wait for all moving parts to come to a complete stop.
Only use a snow thrower in visible conditions. Never operate the snow thrower without good visibility or light.
Aim the snow thrower with care. Never throw snow toward people or cars. Do not allow anyone to stand in front of a snow thrower. Keep children or pets away from the snow thrower when it is operating.
Use extreme caution on slopes and hills. Use caution when changing directions on slopes. Do not attempt to clear steep slopes.
Know where the cord is. When using electrically powered snow throwers, be aware of where the power cord is at all times. Avoid tripping. Do not run over the power cord.
Keep pets and children inside. Children and pets may love to play with in the snow, but it’s best to keep them inside and under supervision while a snow thrower is in use. Do not allow them to play in the snow as it is tossed out of the snow thrower’s chute.

For more safety tips and information, visit

National Institute on Aging offers Alzheimer’s answers
More than 5 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s disease, but what is it, when does it strike and why? The National Institute on Aging offers answers.

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out simple tasks. In most people with the disease — those with the late-onset type — symptoms first appear in the mid-60s.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s occurs between a person’s 30s and mid-60s and is very rare.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia among older adults.

Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s, though initial symptoms may vary from person to person. A decline in other aspects of thinking, such as finding the right words, vision/spatial issues and impaired reasoning or judgment may also signal the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

For more information about Alzheimer’s disease, call 800-438-4380, email or visit

VA appointment scheduling now available online

My HealtheVet can help veterans organize and schedule healthcare appointments. To qualify, veterans must receive VA health care benefits and have a My HealtheVet Premium account.

Veterans can use the My HealtheVet Premium account to do the following.
• View VA appointments on the health calendar.
• Add non-VA appointments to the health calendar.
• Look up past appointments from the past two years.
• Find the location of VA facilities.
• Set up email reminders for upcoming VA appointments.
• Print a list of future VA appointments.
• Access the online scheduling tool

Veterans can also make a health care appointments by phone, and those with a MyHealtheVet Premium account may be able to schedule some types of appointments online.

Learn more at

CDC works to bust diabetes myths

Diabetes is a complex disease and with conflicting theories on what causes it, how it is diagnosed and how it is managed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working to provide the facts. Following are the facts about some common myths.

Myth: There is no diabetes in my family, so I don’t have to worry.
Fact: Diabetes does run in families, but many people diagnosed with the disease have no close
family members who have it. Lifestyle, heredity and possibly other factors, such as certain viruses, may increase the risk for the disease.

It’s called sugar diabetes, so it must come from the sugar I eat.
Fact: When you eat food, the body turns it into a form of energy called glucose, also known as “blood sugar.” Glucose is not the refined sugar that you buy in stores. Insulin helps move the blood sugar into the body’s cells for energy. When the body’s own insulin does not work well or when not enough is made, the blood sugar level rises. Then the person has diabetes.

Myth: I’ll know that I have diabetes with my symptoms.
Fact:  A person with Type 1 diabetes, usually seen in children and young adults, will have obvious symptoms, because they have little or no insulin, the hormone that controls the blood sugar level. However, people with Type 2 diabetes — — which usually occurs later in life — or women who have gestational diabetes — diabetes that only appears during pregnancy — may have few or no symptoms. Their symptoms are milder since they still produce some insulin. Unfortunately, they don’t make enough insulin, or it is not being used properly. Only a blood test can
tell for sure if someone has diabetes.

Myth: My doctor says I have “borderline” diabetes. Since I have just a “touch of sugar,” I don’t have to worry.
Fact: There is no such thing as borderline diabetes. To many people, “borderline” means they
don’t really have the disease, so they don’t have to make any changes to control it. This is wrong. If you have diabetes, you have diabetes. Diabetes must be treated and taken seriously.

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