Staying Safe This Winter

It’s not over yet! Technically, we are only five weeks into the winter season, so it’s helpful to talk about safety for the remainder of the season. There are so many things to look forward to during the winter months. Beautiful snowfalls. Holiday relaxation. Delicious food. But there are also many things to be careful of during the colder months of the year. Let’s look at some safety tips for your family this winter.

Snow-shoveling

Keeping your driveway cleared is essential if you can’t stay homebound in the winter. Snow shovels are often inexpensive and don’t require any special skills to operate. However, this chore is not without danger.

Essentially, the danger comes from excessive strain on the heart and your body’s systems. Cold weather and a sedentary lifestyle do not mix when it comes to clearing your driveway or sidewalks in the winter. The National Safety Council recommends a few tips to stay safe when shoveling snow this winter.

  • Do not shovel after eating, or while smoking.
  • Stretch before you begin, as with any strenuous activity.
  • Shovel only fresh, powdery snow – it weighs less.
  • Push the snow, rather than lifting or tossing it.
  • If you do need to lift a shovelful, use a smaller shovel or only fill the shovel partway.
  • Lift with your legs, never your back.
  • Do not work to the point of exhaustion: it is better to do a little, take a break, and then get back to it.
  • If you have a heart condition or heart disease, DO NOT shovel snow, without a doctor’s permission.
  • If you feel tightness in your chest or any dizziness, stop immediately and seek medical attention.

Basically, a clear driveway is not worth your life. Stay safe, and use common sense.

Home preparations

Before the big snowstorm comes rolling in, there are some things you should tend to, so your family can stay more comfortable during the blizzard. Nationwide recommends these tasks for a safer winter season.

  • Clean out your gutters, and disconnect and drain all exterior hoses. If possible, shut off outside water valves.
  • Insulate walls and attic spaces.
  • Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
  • Repair roof leaks, and remove tree branches that could break under the heavy weight of snow or ice and fall on your home or your neighbor’s.
  • Wrap your water pipes in the basement and crawl spaces.
  • Keep the flue on your fireplace closed when you’re not using it.
  • Move furniture off your heating vents.
  • Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets to keep them from freezing.
  • Avoid ice dams. These are situations where water from melted snow refreezes in the gutters and seeps in under the roof, soaking your interior walls. Do this by ventilating your attic, insulating the attic floor, and consider having a water-repellant membrane installed under your roof covering.

Car preparation

Nationwide also recommends these tips for keeping your family safe on the roads this winter.

  • Only drive if absolutely necessary, and if you must, travel during the day.
  • Do not travel alone, and keep others informed of your schedule.
  • Stay on the main roads, and avoid back roads and unfamiliar shortcuts.
  • Top off your antifreeze, wiper fluid, gas, oil, and other essential engine fluids.
  • Check your tire treads, and consider snow tires.
  • Keep bagged salt or sand in the back of your vehicle; you can use these substances for extra traction or to melt ice. You can also use kitty litter, oddly enough!
  • Clear snow regularly from the top of your car, as well as the windows and headlights.
  • Keep a cold-weather kit in your car. Include a blanket or sleeping bag, gloves, hard candy or other treats, bottled water, a folding shovel, first aid kit, flashlight, and spare cell phone charger.

Randy Murphy

Randy Murphy has been building his knowledge of the air conditioning and heating business for several years now. He first started applying his knowledge while working for his father’s HVAC company. Later, in 1987, Randy started his own business: Metro Express Service. He has been a top 10 Trane & Amana dealer for over eight years. When it comes to heating and cooling, Randy knows the business better than anyone.
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