Safety in Cold Weather

Hey Guys Patrick Brayton here! This will be our last Blog entry for the holiday season, so we’re going to make it a good one!

It is that time of the year again. Global warming?! Not when a freeze hits your area!!

You can protect yourself and your household from the many hazards of winter by planning ahead. About 70% of winter deaths related to snow and ice, occur in automobiles. Travel by car in daylight, do not travel alone, keep others notified of your schedule and stay on the main roads. Avoid back road short cuts. ‘Winterize’ your car with a battery check, antifreeze, wipers and windshield washer fluid, lights, flashing hazard lights, heater, defroster, and snow tires, snow tires with studs, or chains. Keep your car’s gas tank full.

What to do before the storm arrives:

  • Listen to your radio, television, or NOAA Weather Radio for weather reports and emergency information.
  • Prepare to survive on your own for at least three days. Assemble a disaster supplies kit. Be sure to include winter specific items such as rock salt to melt ice on walkways, sand to improve traction, snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
  • Make sure you have stocked up on food and extra drinking water.
  • Dress for the storm: Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Mittens are warmer than gloves.
  • Wear a hat; most body heat is lost through the top of the head.
  • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
  • Be careful when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack; a major cause of death in winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside and do not overexert yourself.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite: loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately
  • Signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.

Hypothermia First Aid: Get the victim to a warm location, remove any wet clothing, and warm the center of the body first, and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages. Get medical help immediately.

Prepare for possible isolation in your home:

  • Make sure you have sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off. If a thermostat controls your furnace and your electricity is cut off by a storm, you will need emergency heat.
  • Try to have emergency heating equipment and fuel (a gas fireplace or a wood burning stove or fireplace) so you can keep at least one room of your residence at a livable temperature. (Be sure the room is well ventilated.)
  • Kerosene heaters are another emergency heating option. Never use any fuel other than kerosene in a kerosene heater. When using kerosene heaters, maintain ventilation to avoid buildup of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects. Never burn charcoal indoors.
  • Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood burning stove.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure your household knows how to use them.
  • Conserve fuel if necessary by keeping your residence cooler than normal.
  • Temporarily close off heat in some rooms.

Photo by Kevin Connors

When a blizzard traps you in your car:

  • Pull off the highway or road. Turn on your hazard lights and hang a distress flag from the radio aerial or window. Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you.
  • Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by, where you know you can take shelter. Distances are distorted by blowing snow. A building may seem close but be too far to walk to in deep snow.
  • Run the engine and heater about ten minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, open a window slightly for ventilation. This will protect you from possible carbon monoxide poisoning. Periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe.
  • Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion. In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers, and floor mats for insulation. Huddle with passengers and use your coat for a blanket.
  • Take turns sleeping. One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews.
  • Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Be careful not to waste battery power. Balance your electrical energy needs.
  • At night, turn on the inside light so work crews or rescuers can see you.

Be safe, and stay warm!

Related Links:

Safety Measures for Changing Weather

Cold Weather in the Workplace: Tips to Avoid Ice and Snow Accumulation

Safety for Businesses This Holiday Season: Safety Tips on Choosing and Using Christmas Lights

5 Distractions that Cause Workplace Hazards

Top 10 OSHA Fines for Small Companies

Remember Your Safety Gear

Heat Stress 101 – Part 1

   

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