If you find yourself stuck in the snow over the next few weeks, use the following preparedness tips to stay safe!
As several storm systems are scheduled to collide in the next few days on the east coast, we’re reminded that winter weather is still upon us. If you find yourself stuck in the snow over the next few weeks, use the following preparedness tips to stay safe!
IF YOU DO GET STUCK IN THE SNOW
- Stay with the car. Do not try to walk to safety.
- Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
- Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
- Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running to help rescuers see the vehicle.
- Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.
IF YOU VENTURE OUTSIDE
Wear layered lightweight clothing to keep warm. This works better than a single heavy coat. Gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs. Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow. You should also:
- Walk carefully on snowy, icy, sidewalks.
- Be extremely careful when shoveling snow. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. Avoid overexertion.
- Understand the hazards of wind chill, which combines the cooling effect of wind and cold temperatures on exposed skin.
- Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.
- Also seek immediate medical attention if you have symptoms of frostbite including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.
SAFETY AT HOME
If the power goes out, use flashlights to provide light. Do not use candles for lighting. Don’t forget your pets – bring them indoors. If that’s not possible, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure they can get to unfrozen water. Other tips include:
- Prevent frozen pipes - when the weather is very cold outside, open cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around water pipes. Let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- Keep the thermostat set to a consistent temperature.
- Never use a stove or oven to heat your home. Keep a glass or metal fire screen around the fireplace and never leave a fireplace fire unattended. If using a space heater, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to safely use the heater. Place it on a level, hard, nonflammable surface. Turn the space heater off when you leave the room or go to sleep. Keep children and pets away from your space heater and do not use it to dry wet clothing.
- Use a sturdy fire screen around fireplaces when in use. Burn only wood - never burn paper or pine boughs.
- Use generators correctly –never operate a generator inside your home, including the basement or garage. Do not hook up a generator directly to your home's wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
- Check smoke alarms once a month by pressing the test button and replacing batteries as necessary.
- Don’t overload your electrical outlets.
-American Red Cross Accessed 1/9/2017
Protect Yourself, Your Loved Ones & Your Home With These Cold Weather Safety Tips
As temperatures drop this winter, the American Red Cross offers ten steps people can take to stay safe during the cold weather.
- Layer up! Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing your body heat.
- Don’t forget your furry friends. Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
- Remember the three feet rule. If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away - things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs.
- Requires supervision - Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
- Don’t catch fire! If you are using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
- Protect your pipes. Run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent your pipes from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children. Keep the garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.
- Better safe than sorry. Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Your heating bill may be a little higher, but you could avoid a more costly repair job if your pipes freeze and burst.
- The kitchen is for cooking. Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
- Use generators outside. Never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.
- Knowledge is power. Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
- Check on your neighbors. The elderly and the very young are vulnerable and may need help and support.
- Winter Safety, The American Red Cross
Snow Shoveling 101
Winter is here, and freezing temperatures, sleet and snow can cause havoc and injuries.
Before you begin to clear snow from your driveway or walkway, remember that snow shoveling is a cardiovascular and weight-lifting exercise. It should be treated like a day in the gym – stretch before exercising and take it slow if you’re not in shape. Using good body mechanics will decrease the stress to your spine and decrease your risk of injury and falls. Here are some tips to keep good body mechanics and avoid overexertion when snow shoveling:
Kessler Institute, a national leader in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation, offers the following suggestions:
- Avoid caffeine or nicotine before shoveling, especially if you have a history of or are at high risk for a heart attack. These stimulants may increase your heart rate and cause your blood vessels to constrict, which places extra stress on the heart. If you have a heart condition, respiratory issues or back problems, check with your doctor before doing any shoveling.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
- Dress in layers and be sure to wear a hat, gloves and sturdy, non-skid waterproof footwear. Avoid wearing scarves or hats that block your vision, and do wear sunglasses or goggles to reduce glare.
- Move slowly and cautiously, and watch where you are walking. What may look like wet pavement may actually be black ice, so be extra careful. When walking down stairs, plant your feet securely on each step and hold the handrail firmly.
- Before shoveling, warm up for about 10 minutes. Do some basic exercises to stretch your back, arms and legs, and walk or march in place. “Warm” muscles generally work more efficiently and are less likely to become injured.
- Try to shovel fresh snow, before it becomes, packed or refrozen. It may be helpful to shovel a few times during a snowfall rather than waiting until the storm ends when the snow is deeper and heavier.
- If possible, try pushing the snow rather than lifting. When lifting, pick up small amounts of snow at a time using your legs, not your back. Scoop the snow in a forward motion and step in the direction as you throw the snow. Avoid twisting and tossing the snow over your shoulder or to the side.
- Switch hands periodically and alternate the side to which you are throwing snow to more evenly distribute the work load and repetitive muscle use.
- Use a sturdy snow shovel that has open ends to allow you to easily toss the snow off to the side.
- Pace yourself. Be sure to take frequent breaks to rest and avoid overexertion. Exhaustion can make you more susceptible to injury, hypothermia and frostbite.
- Most important: If you begin to experience any pain in your chest, arm or neck, shortness of breath or profuse sweating, stop shoveling immediately and seek emergency medical attention.
Remember that snow shoveling is hard work. By understanding your own physical health and taking the appropriate precautionary measures, you can help to reduce the risk of injury during these long winter months.