If winter isn’t here yet, it will be soon! There is no time like the present to remind ourselves and our families how to stay safe in adverse conditions.
For those of us ‘blessed’ to live and deal with winter climates, it goes without saying that winter storms and cold temperatures can be dangerous. Here are some tips that can improve your safety.
Home Safety Tips:
- Prepare your home for cold weather by checking or installing weather stripping, insulation, and storm windows
- Make sure all water lines that may be exposed outside of the home are drained or insulated
- Clean out gutters and repair any existing roof damage
- Check (or have a professional check) your heating system
- Inspect or clean fireplaces and chimneys. Many chimney fires start because of an unsafe buildup of soot or creosote.
- Check all smoke detectors and if battery operated, change the batteries.
- Consider purchasing a safe alternate heating source with appropriate fuel.
- Install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors and learn the symptoms of CO poisoning.
Car Safety Tips:
- Keep the gas tank as full as possible to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
- Use winter formula windshield washing fluid that will not freeze in cold weather
- Keep an emergency kit in your car that includes a cell phone charger, a charged battery that can be used to charge your cell phone if the car is not running, booster cables, flares, tire pump, flashlight, first-aid kit, etc.
Personal Safety Tips:
- Have a stock of food and water in the home in case of an extended power interruption
- Be aware of impending storm conditions that may affect your ability to travel
- When going outside or traveling in a car, make sure that you have appropriate outdoor clothing if you get stuck, have to change a tire, or have another unanticipated outdoor emergency
- Make sure to have a first-aid kit, extra baby or personal hygiene items, ice melt, and perhaps cat litter or sand for icy walkways
- When it’s icy outside, guard against slip and falls by sanding or using cat litter to improve traction on icy areas
- Don’t overexert. Work slowly when doing outside chores
- If possible, avoid driving during weather advisories
- When you do have to drive, inform friends or relatives of your proposed route and time of arrival
- If stranded in your car:
- Do what is possible to make your car visible
- Move any emergency items in the trunk into the passenger compartment
- Stay in the car unless safety is no more than 100 yards away
- Keep as warm as possible. Huddle with other people if you can
- Stay awake and stay moving to improve circulation and stay warmer
- If you still have gas in the car, run your motor (and heater) for about 10 minutes/hr. Keep one window open slightly for ventilation and make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked. This will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning
- Be ready to check on family and friends who may be at risk for cold weather like: young children, older adults, and the chronically ill. Bring pets inside or provide them with adequate shelter, food, and water
If you follow these personal safety tips, you will improve your chances of having an enjoyable winter season.