Today is the first day of winter and that means snow, wind and ice are in store. Heck, just take a look out your window right now.

With Mother Nature's wintry fury moving in, here's a guide at ways to avoid injury and health problems during the winter season:

- Use fireplaces, wood stoves or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside.

- Do not burn paper in a fireplace because it burns hot and could spark an out-of-control blaze.

- Do not place a space heater within three feet of anything that may catch on fire (drapes, furniture, beds, etc.).

- If you are going outdoors to shovel, know the right way to do it. Shovel with your lefts, lifting from your knees and upper legs. Don't use your back, it can lead to strains. Be sure to take breaks because cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart.

- If you have heart problems or high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the cold.

- Dress warmly. Layer your clothing with sweaters, vests and jackets to avoid hypothermia. Wear thick gloves to avoid frostbite.

- Watch the ice. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many cold-weather injuries result from falls on ice-covered sidewalks, steps, driveways and porches. Keep those areas ice free using rock salt or another chemical de-icing compound.