There’s nothing quite like a lake effect snowstorm in Rochester. That’s why it’s important to think about the safety measures you can take before any major storms roll in this winter. Below are some tips to help you stay safe and healthy this winter season.
Get Your Car Checked
Before the winter weather gets worse, make sure that your car is ready for the winter. Every year, there is approximately 60 billion dollars of vehicle maintenance that isn’t done. While some of this maintenance might not seem necessary, it can mean that your car isn’t operating in its optimal state. If one part has to compensate for some sort of damage or disrepair, it’s possible that it could break or sustain damage more easily. If you’re driving in bad conditions, you want your car to be working the best that it possibly can, which is why regular maintenance is key.
Get a Designated Driver
One of the three most common car accident causes in the U.S. is drunk driving. If you are going somewhere and you know you will likely be consuming alcohol, you should make sure that you have a designated driver that will remain sober. If the weather is bad, it’s even more important that any driver on the road is alert and ready to respond quickly to anything that happens, like a patch of black ice.
Give Yourself Enough Travel Time
One of the other top three reasons for car accidents is speeding, so you should make sure that you’re giving yourself an adequate amount of travel time. If you’re speeding, you could lose control of your car more easily when the roads are bad due to severe weather. If you’re running late, it’s better to just accept that you’re late and not try to speed to your destination. If you get in an accident because you’re speeding or otherwise distracted while driving, you will be significantly later than if you went the speed limit and drove carefully. Arriving late is better than not arriving at all.
Have an Emergency Kit
Having an emergency kit in your car and your home is important for any time that there is bad weather. In your car, you should keep things like blankets, extra winter gear (hats, gloves, scarves, etc), hand warmers, snacks (like granola bars or trail mix), and a flashlight. These can be very useful if your car goes off the road. You don’t want to get too cold while you’re waiting for help, and these supplies can help keep you toasty and as happy as possible while you’re waiting for help to arrive.
In your home, you should keep an emergency kit just in case the power goes out. You should keep candles, matches, flashlights, extra batteries, portable chargers, and food that doesn’t need to be heated up to be eaten readily available in your home.
Salt or Sand Your Sidewalk and Driveway
Salt or sand are used to melt the snow and ice that cling to walkways in the winter, and it’s important to use them when the weather necessitates it. Once the temperature gets closer to ten degrees Fahrenheit, salt is no longer effective. Once it becomes that cold, sand can be used instead of salt. Instead of melting the ice and snow as salt does, sand adds traction to the existing snow and ice since it is no longer possible to easily melt the snow and ice. If you or someone in your household is one of the 6.8 million Americans that use assistive devices to help with mobility, it may be even more important to avoid having slippery walkways on your property.
Walk Like a Penguin
This may sound odd, but the University of Rochester recommends you “walk like a penguin” when you are on slippery ground. When you take small steps, you are less likely to lose your balance while you are walking on slippery ground. When you take larger steps and accidentally slip, you are less likely to be able to catch yourself. If it’s possible, doing a shuffle where you never fully take your feet off of the ground is also a good idea. Walking on a slippery walkway is another good time to not rush or try to go too fast — if you fall, you will at best be a little bit soggy and at worst could be seriously injured.
Any time that you’re going out into bad weather, you should make sure that you’re properly layering up for whatever the temperature is. If you know you’ll be outside for a longer period of time, like for a walk or a winter sport, in extremely cold weather, make sure that you’re wearing multiple layers of pants and shirts to ensure that you don’t get too cold while you’re outside. A day at Bristol is only fun if you’re not spending the entire time freezing. If you’re playing winter sports, make sure to take into consideration the heating and cooling effect of exercise on your layering choices.
For basic winter layering, make sure that you wear a hat, gloves, a scarf or other neckwarmer, and a thick coat. Adding in a base layer of long underwear or other thermal wear under your clothing is a good idea for truly cold weather since you can always take it off once you reach your destination.
Know the Signs of Hypothermia
If you or your family are spending time outdoors in the winter, make sure that you’re aware of the main symptoms of hypothermia, which the CDC has listed as:
- Feeling exhausted or very tired.
- Memory loss.
- Fumbling hands.
If you notice someone near you exhibiting these symptoms, make sure that you immediately take them to a warmer place. Make sure to remove any wet clothing they have on, and seek to warm the core of their body immediately. Warm, non-alcoholic drinks can also be helpful in warming up someone suffering from hypothermia. If a person’s temperature is below 95 degrees, make sure to seek medical attention as quickly as possible.
The winter can be a dangerous time if you aren’t careful, and sometimes even if you take every precaution, accidents can happen. Make sure that you’re alerted and as prepared as possible for any winter-related problem, and you will have a great season.