Stay Safe and Healthy This Winter
In some sections of the U.S., winter has been so far unseasonably mild. But that doesn’t mean we’ll avoid the cold and its attendant hazards as the season continues. Here, from the National Center of Environmental Health, a division of the federal Centers for Disease Control, are some strategies to get you safely through the season:
Prepare your car
Have your radiator serviced, and check the antifreeze level. If needed replace tires with all-weather tires.
Keep your gas tank full so you won’t get ice in your tank and fuel lines.
Use a wintertime formula in your windshield washer.
Have a winter emergency kit in case you get stranded. This should include blankets; nonperishable food and water; booster cables, flares, tire pump and a bag of sand; food and water; booster cables, flares, tire pump, and a bag of sand or cat litter (for traction); compass and maps; flashlight, battery-powered radio, and extra batteries; a first-aid kit; and plastic bags (for sanitation).
Prepare your home
In readiness for a power outage, stock food that needs no cooking or refrigeration and water stored in clean containers.
Make sure your cell phone is fully charged.
Keep an up-to-date emergency kit, including: battery-operated devices, such as a flashlight, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio, and lamps; extra batteries; first-aid kit and extra medicine; cat litter or sand for icy walkways.
Protect your family from carbon monoxide
Keep grills, camp stoves, and generators out of the house, basement and garage.
Locate generators at least 20 feet from the house.
Leave your home immediately if the CO detector sounds, and call 911
Be prepared to check on family and neighbors who are especially at risk from cold weather hazards: young children, older adults, and the chronically ill. If you have pets, bring them inside. If you cannot bring them inside, provide adequate, warm shelter and unfrozen water to drink.
Take Outdoors Precautions
Work slowly when doing outside chores.
Whether you’re shoveling snow or taking a brisk walk, wear appropriate outdoor clothing: layers of light, warm clothing; mittens; hats; scarves; and waterproof boots.
Sprinkle cat litter or sand on icy patches.
Be aware of the wind chill factor.
Take a buddy and an emergency kit when you are participating in outdoor recreation.
Carry a cell phone even if you are just shoveling.
Avoid traveling when the weather service has issued advisories, and be aware of current and future forecast condition.
If you must travel, inform a friend or relative of your proposed route and expected time of arrival.
If you become stranded in your car, stay with your vehicle unless safety is no more than 100 yards away, but continue to move arms and legs. Putbright cloth on the antenna, turn on the inside overhead light (when engine is running), and raise the hood when snow stops falling. Run the engine and heater only 10 minutes every hour. Keep a downwind window open, and make sure the tailpipe is not blocked.
For more information on health and environmental issues, visit http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/.