Offers Winter Safety Tips
for West Michigan & New
Instructor and Public Fire & Life Safety Educator
here...and that means freezing temperatures, snow storms, icy roads, and
slippery sidewalks – all of which present a variety of health and safety
hazards. Below is a variety of winter safety tips for you to review
with your family.
winter weather is fast approaching, and with it comes a variety of health
and safety hazards both indoors and out. To help ensure everyone
in our community stays safe and warm this season, E.S.C.A.P.E. offers
the following tips and suggest you post them where they can be seen by
your family members and co-workers.
and extreme cold can make driving treacherous. In 1998, 131,000 motor
vehicle crashes occurred during sleet and snowy conditions in the U.S.
Before winter, make sure your car is ready for the season with a tune-up,
snow tires or tires with good tread, a charged battery and sufficient antifreeze.
Keep emergency gear
in your car, including a cell phone, flashlight, jumper cables, sand or
kitty litter, ice scraper/snow brush, small shovel, blankets, and warning
devices. For longer trips take food, water, extra blankets, and required
If you must travel
in bad weather, drive slowly and let someone know your route and anticipated
Try to get to the
store before a storm hits.
Carbon monoxide kills.
Don’t sit in a parked car with the engine running unless a window is open.
Don’t warm up your car in the garage. If your car is outside, make sure
the exhaust pipe and the area around it are free of snow.
If you are stopped
or stalled, light two flares, and place them outside, one at each end of
the car. Stay in your vehicle and open a window slightly. Wrap yourself
in blankets. Run your heater for a few minutes every hour to keep warm.
Ice and snow-covered
roads and walkways can be serious safety hazards.
DRESS FOR THE
Walk on sidewalks,
if possible. If they are icy and you must take to the streets, walk against
the flow of traffic and as close to the curb as you can.
Wear a bright piece
of outer clothing if you have to walk in the street or road. Dark winter
colors are often hard for motorists to see.
Don’t wear a hat
or scarf that blocks your vision or makes it hard for you to hear traffic.
Ice and snow can
alter road conditions making it hard for vehicles to stop or slow down.
Before you step off the curb -- even at a stop sign or traffic light --
make sure approaching vehicles have come to a complete stop.
Be aware that snowdrifts
can turn familiar territory into an alien landscape, covering curbs and
other potential hazards.
Bending your knees
a little and taking slower, shorter steps can greatly reduce your chances
a winter wonderland won’t be so wonderful if you aren’t prepared for the
weather. Not dressing properly can lead to hypothermia, a serious condition
in which your body temperature cools down to abnormal levels.
Wear several layers
of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, and wear mittens instead of gloves.
Trapped, insulating air warmed by body heat is the best protection from
Wear a hat and make
sure shoes or boots have nonskid soles.
Change out of wet
clothes as soon as possible.
means it’s time to turn on your furnace or other heating device. But take
care, December, January, and February are the leading months for home fires,
and heating devices are often the culprit. With proper precautions you’ll
be safe and warm this season.
Install a smoke detector
and carbon monoxide alarm near your bedrooms and on each floor.
Know the symptoms
of carbon monoxide poisoning: headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and
shortness of breath.
Have your heating
system tuned up each year. If you heat your home with a wood stove,
have the chimney connection and flue checked each year and make sure the
stove is placed on an approved stove board to protect your floor from heat.
fireplace should have a sturdy fire screen in place. Make sure your chimney
and flue are inspected each year and cleaned, if needed. Burn only untreated
wood. Never burn paper or pine branches: pieces can float out the chimney
and ignite your roof or your neighbor’s as well as nearby trees.
Do not use gas appliances
such as ovens, ranges, or clothes dryers to heat your home.
If you use a kerosene
heater, never use gasoline, which can cause a fire or explosion. Use only
water-clear 1-K grade kerosene. Never refuel the heater inside your home
or when it is hot or in operation. Do not fill the tank above the “full”
mark. Keep a door open to the rest of the house or open a window slightly
to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide build-up.
shoveling can be good exercise, it can also be dangerous for optimists
who take on more than they can handle.
Dress warmly, paying
special attention to feet, hands, nose and ears.
Avoid shoveling snow
if you are out of shape. If you have a history of heart trouble, do not
shovel snow unless your doctor approves.
Pace yourself and
don’t work to the point of exhaustion. Shoveling can raise your heart rate
and blood pressure dramatically. 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 bent, not your back. Do not toss snow over your shoulder
or to the side.
Don’t drink alcohol
before or while shoveling snow and don’t smoke while shoveling.
or throwers aren’t toys. These machines may help you efficiently remove
snow from driveways and sidewalks, but they also cause thousands of emergency
room visits each year.
Make sure you understand
your owner’s manual safety procedures thoroughly.
Be sure you have
good visibility or light.
Walk, never run.
Keep the area clear
of pets and people, especially kids.
Clear the area of
all obstacles that can clog the chute.
Never put your hand
in the snow blower to remove snow or debris. Turn it off and wait a few
seconds, then use a stick or broom handle.
Never leave the snow
blower unattended and don’t let kids operate it.
Dress properly for
the job. Wear boots that give you good footing on slippery surfaces and
avoid loose fitting clothes that can get caught.
Don’t attempt to
clear steep slopes.
“This is only
a sample of the safety precautions we must take during the winter months,”
says Michael McLeieer, a certified firefighter and President of E.S.C.A.P.E.,
Incorporated. “Safety is a personal responsibility. If you
are in doubt, think twice before doing anything that may prove hazardous
to yourself, your property or those around you.” E.S.C.A.P.E., Inc.
is a non-profit community agency dedicated to teaching children and adults
techniques in personal safety including fire prevention, CPR and first
to see a listing of the other services we offer & on site training
courses we conduct.