Winter Time Safety

Preventing Slips & Falls

  • Wear proper footwear – boots or shoes that are well insulated, waterproof, with wide, low heels and a thick, non-slip tread on the sole.
  • Take small steps to keep your center of balance under you.
  • Walk slowly and never run on icy/wet surfaces.
  • Keep both hands free for balance (as opposed to being kept in your pockets).
  • Watch where you’re going.
  • Test potentially slick areas by tapping your foot on them.
  • Step, don’t jump, from vehicles and equipment.
  • Walk in designated walkways as much as possible – taking shortcuts over snow piles and areas where snow and ice removal is not feasible can be hazardous.
  • Plan ahead – give yourself sufficient time and plan your route.
  • Use floor mats when entering a building – in addition to keeping floors clean, mats are also used to remove moisture from the soles of your shoes.
  • Use handrails where available.

Keeping Warm While Being Outside

  • Dress in layers paying special attention to protecting your head, ears, nose, face, hands, and feet, as these tend to get cold quicker.
  • Wear a hat that is insulated and that can cover the ears completely (such as a “knit cap” or a hat with ear-flaps); this should keep body heat from being lost from your head.
  • Wear gloves that are insulated, fit properly, and don’t cause significant loss of gripping ability.

Keeping Your Home Safe and Warm

  • Install a smoke alarm near bedrooms and on each floor of your home. Test it weekly and change the battery at least once a year (to be safer change the battery twice yearly).
  • Install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors near bedrooms and on each floor of your home. Know the symptoms of CO poisoning: headache, fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath. If you experience any of these symptoms get to fresh air right away and contact your local emergency services for their response.
  • Make sure heating equipment is installed properly by having a trained specialist inspect and “tune up” your heating system each year.
  • Keep portable space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn, including bedding, furniture, and clothing. Never drape clothing over a space heater to dry.
  • Keep children and pets away from space heaters. Never leave children in a room alone when a space heater is in use.
  • If you use a kerosene heater, use only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. Before you refuel the heater turn it off and let it cool down. Remember to refuel it outside only.
  • When using a kerosene heater keep the room door open or slightly open a window; this will reduce the chance of carbon monoxide building up in the room.
  • Have your fireplace or wood/coal burning stove chimney, flue, and connections inspected and the chimney cleaned before each “burning season.” Burn only untreated wood and avoid burning paper or pine branches which can float out of the chimney and ignite your or a neighbor’s roof or nearby trees.
  • Never use your range or oven to heat your home, even for a short period of time.

Surviving a Winter Storm

  • Be prepared! Before cold weather hits make sure you have a way to heat your home during a power failure. Keep a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher nearby when using alternative heating sources.
  • Keep extra blankets, flashlights with extra batteries, matches, a first aid kit, manual can opener, snow shovel, and rock salt in addition to special needs items (such as diapers) on hand.
  • Stock a few days’ supply of water, required medications, and food that does not need to be refrigerated or cooked.
  • Monitor the temperature of your home. Infants and persons who are over 65 years old are especially susceptible to cold. If it’s not possible to keep your home warm, plan to stay with family or friends or in a shelter.
  • Dress in several layers to stay warm, and covering up with blankets can also conserve heat.

Clearing Snow and Ice

  • Dress warmly paying particular attention to feet, hands, nose, and ears.
  • Avoid shoveling snow if you are out of shape or have a history of heart trouble.
  • Do light warm-up exercises before shoveling and take frequent breaks.
  • If possible push snow in front of you. If you have to lift it, pick up small amounts and lift with your legs not your back. Do not toss snow over your shoulder or to the side.
  • Don’t drink alcohol before or while shoveling snow, and also never smoke while shoveling.
  • Use rock salt or another de-icing compound to remove ice from steps, walkways, and sidewalks. Sand placed on a walkway may also prevent slipping.
  • If you use a snow blower/thrower make sure you read the owner’s manual before using, even if you’ve had/used other types of snow blowers/throwers before. Make sure all people and pets are out of the way before you begin. Don’t put your hand in the snow blower/thrower to remove impacted snow or debris; turn the machine off and wait a few seconds and then use a stick or broom handle. Don’t leave the snow blower unattended when it’s running, and fill the machine with fuel before you start and let it cool down before refueling.