“One kind word can warm three winter months,” a Japanese proverb goes. But it takes more than words to ensure your safety as the weather becomes harsher. Taking the right precautions can see you safely through the winter months, whether you’re burrowing at home or traveling to colder climates. Ready yourself for the change in weather with these tips:
Baby, it’s cold (and slippery) outside
- Keep smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in working order. Know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning: nausea, dizziness, headache, fatigue and shortness of breath.
- Place doormats at entryways to prevent slippery floors.
- Store a first-aid kit, radio, flashlight, batteries, bottled water and canned food.
- If you or a loved one uses life-support or other medical equipment that requires electrical power, ask your utility company about services for power-dependent customers during blackouts.
- Keep an extra battery on hand if you use a motorized wheelchair or scooter.
- Set your thermostat to at least 65 degrees to avoid developing hypothermia.
- Don’t heat your home with your oven, stove burners or outdoor camping equipment.
- Have your heating system, chimney and flue checked annually.
- Keep holiday candles away from flammable items like wreaths, garlands, curtains or clothing. Extinguish candles before you leave the room.
- Tuck Christmas tree light cords or other wires safely away (but never under a rug).
On the road again
- Avoid walking through running water more than six inches deep—its force can cause a fall.
- Tread carefully on slick or icy surfaces. Spread salt, sand or cat litter on walking areas. Wear shoes that provide good traction.
- Stay inside during severe storms or extreme cold. Bitter temperatures increase your risk of frostbite and hypothermia (when body temperature drops too low).
- When you’re spending time outdoors, take frequent breaks to warm up inside. Be alert for numb areas on your face, ears, fingers or toes, which can signal frostbite.
- Dress warmly and in layers. Wear a hat and gloves.
- Drive cautiously and be alert for changing road conditions.
- Avoid areas known to flood suddenly. Don’t drive through flooded areas.
- Keep your gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Keep an emergency kit that includes a working flashlight or flare in your car.
- Consider keeping a cell phone in your car—but don’t talk while driving.
- Check your antifreeze and wiper fluid often.
- Make sure your tires are suitable for road conditions.
- Don’t travel alone.
- Dress warmly. Store blankets in the trunk in case of a breakdown.