This month, cold, snow and ice have blanketed much of the country. This can create dangerous situations, including a higher risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Here are five tips you can follow to stay warm and safe this winter.
1 - Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle
Last week, thousands of people were stranded overnight on a major highway in Virginia because of a snowstorm. As their gas ran out, many found themselves unprepared to stay warm. Keeping an emergency kit in your vehicle will prepare you for these types of situations.
A car emergency kit can include:
- Jumper cables.
- Ice scraper.
- Car cell phone charger.
- Food and water.
- Warm clothes and other necessities.
2 – Prepare your car for the winter
It’s a good idea to prepare your car for winter. You or your mechanic can check your vehicle’s antifreeze levels, battery, brakes, heater and defroster. If you live in an area at increased risk for severe winter weather, install good winter tires and make sure they have enough tread, as well as any chains or studs required in your locality. You should also keep your gas from falling below half a tank in case of evacuation or power outages: this also keeps the fuel line from freezing.
3 – Never use a generator inside the house
NEVER use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage, even if doors and windows are open. Keep portable generators outside away from windows and as far away from your home as possible. Carbon monoxide poisoning from generators has unfortunately already taken lives this winter. To protect you and your family, it is also a good idea to install and test carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month.
4 – Take steps to keep the heat in your house
There are many steps you can take to retain as much heat in your house as possible, especially if there are power outages. Close blinds or curtains to help your house stay warm. Close off unused rooms to avoid wasting heat and stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
House fires are common in the winter and can happen if you are not careful about how you are heating your home. Be sure to plug only one heat-producing appliance in an outlet a time and keep anything that can burn at least three feet from any heat source (like a fireplace or radiator). Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home.
If your power is out during extreme winter weather, there may be warming centers near you; contact your local office of emergency to find one.
5 – Keep your body warm
Layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing will keep you warmer than a bulky sweater. Eat regularly, as food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Drink liquids such as warm broth or juice. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
If you are experiencing numbness, memory loss, drowsiness or gray-yellow, firm or waxy skin, it’s possible you are experiencing either frostbite or hypothermia. Know the signs of both and take immediate action if you think you are experiencing either.
- Going to a warm room.
- Soaking in warm water.
- Warming the chest first.
For more information on how to stay safe and warm this winter, visit Ready.gov/winter-weather.