Winter has just begun and already, it’s packed a powerful punch. Dallas, Texas and vicinity got walloped with a paralyzing ice storm in early December. One month later, the northeast is buried in snow and half the country is plunged into a deep freeze by the powerful Hercules. Already, Hercules has claimed 13 lives, most in motor vehicle accidents on icy roads. Here where we live, a house burned to the ground — the fire triggered by a space heater being used improperly and fueled by high winds. Thankfully, no one was injured in that fire.
When we follow Winter Weather Safety Tips, we can enjoy the blanket of quiet beauty without injury or harm.
Winter Weather Safety Tips
We’ve searched the internet for the best resources and winter weather safety tips. The National Weather Service provides a comprehensive resource for weather related information, including a storm preparation checklist, winter driving tips, and up-to-date information on current weather conditions.
Winter Weather Travel
Air travel experiences significant disruption in major storms, whether winter snowstorms or summer hurricanes. Before leaving for the airport, check with your airline for current flight status. It’s always easier to wait at home than in a crowded airport! The website, Flightstats, offers comprehensive information as well — you can search by flight, airport or route.
Car travel requires patience above all else. If the roads are bad, delay your trip. If you must be on the roads follow these safety tips: slow down, make sure windows are clear of ice and snow, check fluids and fill gas tank often — don’t let your gas run low!
Whether driving across town or across the country, stock it with an emergency car kit. Keep blankets, bottled water and snacks on-hand. If you get stranded, you’ll have the supplies you need to wait for help.
Also, don’t let the engine idle without ensuring the exhaust is clear. Buried in a snowbank, the tailpipe can clog and the car can fill with carbon monoxide. Dig snow away from the tailpipe and make sure it stays clear.
Do not wander away from your car if stranded. Stay with it. Put the flashers on. Call for help with your cell phone. Keep calm.
Winter Weather Home Safety
The US Fire Administration has created a comprehensive checklist for winter home safety. I won’t pretend to be more thorough than they are.
Heating your home: Ensure that fireplaces are clean and working properly. Do not heat the house by stove or oven. Keep space heaters clear of clutter — at least 3 feet from all fabric, including bedding, curtains and furniture. Do not use space heaters with frayed electrical cords or cords that get hot to the touch. Do not heat your home with a gas grill!
Carbon Monoxide and Fire/Smoke Alarms: All homes should have working smoke alarms. Homes with gas heat, gas cooktops, gas ovens or gas fireplace logs should have carbon monoxide detectors to avoid needless deaths. Develop and practice fire escape plans with your family.
Winter Weather Personal Safety
Simply put, dress for the weather. Layers work best. Cover your head, hands and face.
Understand the symptoms of frostbite, which starts with the skin looking flushed. Then it turns white or grayish yellow. It might tingle, and then will feel numb. Often, people with frostbite don’t realize they have it, but is noticed by someone else. Hypothermia, equally dangerous, occurs when the body’s core temperature drops. Signs of hypothermia include slurred speech, mental confusion, lack of coordination (stumbling or inability to make hands work together), drowsiness, failing eyesight and poor judgment.
Beware of over-exertion. Every year, 1200 people die from heart attacks caused by shoveling snow. If you’re not healthy enough to walk around the block, shoveling heavy snow is probably not a good choice! A cubic foot of snow weighs anywhere from 7 to 15 pounds. Shoveling snow IS a workout!
Enjoy the Winter Weather!
Enjoy the snow…. and when it’s just too cold or you’ve had enough, enjoy these creative activities, good for home or hotel.