Be winter savvy

By Rhea Maze

Ready or not, winter is here! A few simple hacks can help keep you safe and healthy when the temperature drops.


Sometimes even your best boots are no match for an icy sidewalk. Whether you’re exercising outdoors on hard-packed snow, taking the dog out, or simply navigating a treacherous parking lot, winter traction devices that slip on over your regular footwear can help you move with confidence and avoid falls. Yaktrax cleats, which start at around $20, are lightweight and keep your footing stable on ice or snow.

If you use a cane to get around, invest in a cane ice tip attachment for about $12.

Breathe Easy

Most of Colorado has high levels of radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that rises up through the soil and dissipates in the air. It poses a health risk when it gets trapped inside homes, especially in winter months when windows and doors are closed. “The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified radon as the second-leading cause of lung cancer after smoking,” says Selina Lujan, a senior indoor air quality specialist with the City of Fort Collins. “It’s really important to test your home for radon in winter because that’s when you could be exposed to higher levels.” Four picoCuries (pCi) per liter of air is the level at which the EPA says a home should be mitigated for radon, and retesting is recommended every five years.

The City of Fort Collins provides free radon testing through its Healthy Homes program and also sells test kits for $6 and $20. | 970-221-6600

It generally costs around $1,200 to mitigate a home for radon. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment provides discounted radon test kits and low-income mitigation assistance. | 800-846-3986

Flu Fight

Flu viruses are most common in winter, and while cases tend to peak between December and February, flu season can last until May. It is recommended that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu shot every season. In addition to your primary health-care provider or local pharmacy, flu vaccines are available at three Larimer County locations with no appointment necessary. For more information, call the Flu Hotline at 970-498-6706, or visit or

Survival Kit

Don’t leave home without a basic winter survival kit in your car. Most recommendations include keeping these items in your car at all times: blankets, warm clothes, hand-warmer packets, a snow brush and shovel, flares, jumper cables, tire chains, windshield wiper fluid, a first aid kit, water and snacks, a flashlight and extra batteries, and a cell phone and charger. Having some sand or nonclumping cat litter on hand as well can help your tires regain traction if you get stuck in the snow. For more tips visit