A winter wonderland has settled upon a majority of the country, along with the accidents and injuries that often accompany it. Keep you and your family safe this winter with these 4 handy safety tips for the season.
1. Heat the Home Intelligently
Winter is the most common time of year for residential fires, due to increased cooking and the use of furnaces, fireplaces, and space heaters. Protect your home this season by getting your fireplace and flues inspected by a professional. You should also take care anytime you use a space heater—heaters should be at least three feet away from flammable materials like drapery and bedding on all sides.
You should also inspect your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. You say you don’t have carbon monoxide detectors? Carbon monoxide is the silent killer—a detector could potentially save your family’s life. They are relatively inexpensive and extremely effective.
2. Prepare Emergency Supplies
Prepare your home and family in case of a blizzard or other winter storm that traps you at home for a few days. Maybe you aren’t trapped per se, but you might not be comfortable driving in certain conditions—stock up on groceries and non-perishables to tide you over until you can drive to the grocery store again. A stocked pantry is one of the most important safety precautions you can take before a winter storm hits. Don’t forget water, too!
You should also stock up on candles, flashlights, batteries, and other supplies in case the electricity goes out. Locate blankets and warm coats to keep your family warm during a power outage, or even if the heater just fails from exhaustion. You might not be sure how quickly a repairman can reach your home, so don’t leave your family shivering in a cold house.
3. Learn the Rules of the Road
One of the most important safety precautions to take during winter is on the road. Get your car ready for the onslaught of snow and ice by stocking up with plenty of anti-freeze, gasoline, a fully-charged battery, and tire chains. You should also make sure you have a full emergency kit in the car in case you get stranded. Include blankets, water, additional car fluids, and some sort of signal flag or flare.
Precautions also need to be taking as you drive your vehicle. In general, winter driving requires you to be much more alert and drive much slower than normal. Always leave with plenty of time to reach your destination so as not to be in a rush on the roadways. When driving, brake early and gently to allow enough time for stopping on a slick surface.
Turn off your cruise control—even at low speeds, you could skid and your car will try to maintain the speed at an inappropriate and perilous time. If you are driving behind a snowplow or other work vehicle, never try to pass them. It is incredibly dangerous due to the snow spray, decreased visibility, and snowy road conditions. Simply follow behind the plow about 5 car lengths behind, and realize that the truck may exit the roadway at any time or not follow the road at all.
4. Watch the Walkway
You will most likely want to clear the walkways around your home in order to keep them safe. De-ice pathways with rock salt or store-bought chemical compounds. Slipping can also be lessened with a layer of sand on the surface in question. When shoveling snow, only shovel fresh snow and avoid compacted, heavy snow.
Only use a small shovel or up to half of the surface of a large shovel to reduce the risk of injury from a heavy load. Prevent back injury by using your knees and sitting into the shoveling position to keep you back straight and aligned.
When walking on icy or slippery surfaces, wear shoes with strong, rubber soles with a deep tread. You can also take a page from nature’s book and walk like a penguin! But really, it works. Bend slightly at the waist and turn feet outwards. Take small steps with flat feet, focusing on your center of gravity. Leave hands out of your pockets for extra balance and to catch yourself if you fall.
Enjoy the snow this year without fear! With some simple preparation and implementation of safe habits, you are sure to make this winter the safest yet.
Georgiah Cook has a passion for finance and accounting, as well as education. This passion has driven her to become a prolific writer on subjects like personal growth and higher education. She is also interested in safety and personal injury law firms in Barrie like Little John Barristers. Georgiah also loves biking, hiking, and people-watching at the beach.