As they say, “Winter is Coming.” And it’s time to start thinking about hibernation and settling in for the snowy days and crisp evenings. Or, as Bendites do, getting out there and exploring in the sparkling fresh powder.
Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind when heading into the new season.
Safety in the Home
Many of us use winter as a time to recoup and nestle into our homes with a good book and some warm tea. Staying inside, however, has no safety guarantee. Take these steps to keep your home safe and warm this winter.
Winterize your home.
- Install weather stripping, insulation, and storm windows.
- Insulate water lines that run along exterior walls.
- Clean out gutters and repair roof leaks.
Check your heating systems.
- Have your heating system serviced professionally to make sure that it is clean, working properly, and ventilated to the outside.
- Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys.
- Install a smoke detector. Test batteries monthly and replace them twice a year.
- Have a safe alternate heating source and alternate fuels available.
- Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) emergencies.
- Install a CO detector to alert you of the presence of the deadly, odorless, colorless gas. Check batteries when you change your clocks in the fall and spring.
- Learn symptoms of CO poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.
Safety in the Car
Our winter adventures almost always start in the car (unless, of course, we get three feet of snow overnight and cross country skiing to work is an option). Make sure your car is ready for the icy roads and cold conditions.
General Car Safety
- Service the radiator and maintain antifreeze level; check tire tread or, if necessary, replace tires with all-weather or snow tires.
- Keep gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
- Use a wintertime formula in your windshield washer.
Prepare a winter emergency kit to keep in your car in case you become stranded.
- The kit should include:
- cell phone
- portable charger and extra batteries
- 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
- first-aid kit
- plastic bags (for sanitation)
Safety in the Outdoors
As we know, many of us get outside and explore even during the most blizzardy of blizzards. Take a few steps to make sure you’re prepared for anything that might come your way.
Wear appropriate outdoor clothing
- wear a tightly woven, preferably wind-resistant coat or jacket
- inner layers of light, warm clothing
- waterproof boots.
Sprinkle cat litter or sand on icy patches in your driveway or patio.
Learn safety precautions to follow when outdoors.
- Work slowly when doing outside chores.
- Take a buddy and an emergency kit when you are participating in outdoor recreation.
- Carry a cell phone.
Safety for Travel
The holidays are right around the corner, which can mean quite a bit of travel for some of us. Or maybe you just like to push the limits and get in your Subaru for some much-needed adventure.
Avoid traveling when the weather service has issued advisories.
- If you must travel, inform a friend or relative of your proposed route and expected time of arrival.
Follow these safety rules if you become stranded in your car.
- Make your car visible to rescuers. Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna, raise the hood of the car (if it is not snowing), and turn on the inside overhead lights (when your engine is running).
- Move anything you need from the trunk into the passenger area. Stay with your car unless safety is no more than 100 yards away.
- Keep your body warm. Wrap your entire body, including your head, in extra clothing, blankets, or newspapers. Stash some emergency blankets in your car if you can.
- Stay awake and stay moving. You will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems. As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to improve circulation and stay warmer.
- Run the motor (and heater) for about 10 minutes per hour, opening one window slightly to let in air. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe—this will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Be prepared for weather-related emergencies, including power outages or getting snowed in. Believe it or not, this certainly does happen in Central Oregon.
Stock food that needs no cooking or refrigeration and water stored in clean containers.
Ensure that your cell phone is fully charged.
When planning travel, be aware of current and forecast weather conditions.
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
- baby items
- 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.
Do you have any additional recommendations for winter safety? We’d love to hear how you prep for the conditions.