When it comes to winter weather, there are various risks – like heart attacks associated with snow shoveling, slip and fall injuries, and the danger of exposure that can occur if your home is not adequately prepared for a winter storm.
The good news is you can prepare for winter. Here are five tried and true snow safety tips to get you through this season.
1. How To Shovel Safely
Each year, snow shoveling is responsible for over 11,000 injuries and 100 fatalities. Sudden heart attacks cause most snow shoveling deaths. The sudden exertion of moving heavy snow, plus working in the cold weather, increase the heart rate and blood pressure, causing some people to be at risk of a heart attack.
To make shoveling easier, begin working before a storm strikes by applying a layer of rock salt or deicer to your sidewalks and steps. If possible, use a pet-friendly deicer that’s gentle on dog paws. Try stretching before you begin and take things slow as you shovel. When you shovel, move only fresh snow as it’s lighter. Additionally, only partially fill your shovel to keep your burden easier and lift with your legs. If you notice any chest discomfort or shortness of breath, halt immediately and call 911.
2. How To Care For A Slip And Fall Injury
Each year, 3 million older adults are treated in emergency rooms after slip and fall accidents caused by inclement weather. Keep yourself safe in the snow by wearing proper footwear when venturing outside to shovel. If the weather forecast reports a chance of ice, it’s safest to stay inside to limit any risk of slips.
If you experience a slip and fall injury, treat yourself with plenty of rest to help yourself recover. Additionally, use ice to bring down any swelling or inflammation at the impact of your fall. Employ a compression wrap to alleviate pain and discomfort. Elevate the injury site to let your blood circulate away from your wound. If the symptoms persist or worsen, schedule an appointment with your doctor for additional care.
3. How To Prepare For Winter Storms
Every year over 1,300 people are killed in vehicle crashes during winter storms. Hundreds more are injured or die due to exposure. One way you or your loved ones can prepare for winter storms is to listen to the weather forecast on your local TV stations or radio. If you hear “winter storm warning” or “blizzard warning,” know life-threatening weather is inevitable and you should immediately take precautions. Do not travel unless necessary.
To prepare to outlast a winter storm, you’ll want to create an emergency kit for each family member. Inside, ensure you have the following materials so you can hunker down and stay safe:
- Water, 1 gallon per person per day (a two-week supply)
- Non-perishable food, easy to prepare (a two-week supply)
- First-aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Sanitation items
- Copies of important documents
- Cell phones and chargers
- Multi-purpose tool
- Map of the area
- Extra cash
If you lose power, you might need to evacuate your home if you don’t have an alternate way to heat your property. Be aware of local emergency shelters if you need one. If you have fireplaces, space heaters, or wood-burning stoves, guarantee they’re clean and in good working order before using them.
4. How To Protect Your House
Before any storms come, take time to ensure your home is in tip-top shape. To keep your pipes from freezing on colder nights, let your water run at a tiny trickle to keep pressure from building and create a constant flow of water. You can also take permanent action and insulate your crawl space or keep your home a bit warmer in the winter. Guarantee you properly insulate the rest of your home by using caulk and weather strips on window sills and door seals.
If you wish to install a generator, place it at least 20 feet away from all windows, vents, or doors that could allow carbon monoxide (CO) inside your home. Purchase a battery-operated CO detector to protect you from CO poisoning. Never use a generator inside your home, garage, or any enclosed space to keep yourself and your family safe.
5. How To Dress Warmly Outside
When going outdoors in severe winter weather, it’s best to try and limit time outside. Additionally, follow these tips to dress warm and layer up:
- Wear a hat.
- Wrap a scarf around your face.
- Use warm, water-resistant gloves or mittens.
- Dress in water-resistant boots and a coat.
- Don three layers of clothing, including an inner layer that holds body heat, like wool, an insulation layer that retains heat, and an outer layer that protects from the elements.
When you return inside, check for signs of hypothermia, which include exhaustion, shivering, memory loss, slurred speech, fumbling hands, and drowsiness. In babies, hypothermia presents differently. Affected infants often have bright red cold skin and low energy. Another sign of hypothermia is a temperature below 95ºF. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical help as soon as possible.
Be Prepared For Winter
When you follow these snow safety tips, you’ll be ready to protect yourself and your home for this season. Winter will be a time of joy, not fear!