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Winter weather safety

March 2, 2021

While February’s snowpack is melting away, we likely still have some winter weather ahead, so it’s important to be aware of weather hazards once we step foot outside. Here are some tips and resources to keep your winter incident-free.

Snow, ice, and cold temperatures present a variety of hazards the most common of which are slips, trips and falls.  To keep yourself safe, try these tips:

  • Wear gloves and keep your hands out of your pockets and free for balancing.
  • Wear shoes or boots that are designed to be slip resistant – not leather or smooth soles. There are also many “ice cleat shoe coverings” available commercially.
  • Carry possessions in a backpack to keep your arms free for balance.
  • You can also try the “penguin walk.” Point your toes out, take short steps and go slow.  It looks like how a penguin walks, but it is effective in reducing falls on the ice.

Most importantly, maintain “situational awareness”, pay attention to your surroundings. That phone call or text message can wait until you get to your destination.

Snow shoveling and snow blowing have their own hazards as they expose you to heavy exertion in cold weather as well as falls.  Remember to dress in layers.  Stretch to warm up.  Know your limitations.  Pay attention to what your body is telling you and pace yourself.  Push snow rather than lifting it.  If you must lift, do it with the knees, not the back.

Anytime you’re out in the cold, dress in layers and try to keep dry – if you start to sweat, remove a layer.  Watch yourself and others around you for signs of frostbite or hypothermia.  Seek medical attention if necessary.

For winter auto travel, preparation can make a big difference.  Make sure tires, brakes and battery are in good condition.  Have an emergency preparedness kit in your car with a blanket, extra gloves, hat, jacket, first aid kit, water and a communication or signaling device.  Keep a container of sand in the car.  If the tires are spinning on icy pavement, toss the grit in front of and behind the tires for traction.  While driving, leave extra space between vehicles and slow down.  These actions give you more time to stop the vehicle should it start to slide on a slick road.

For more winter weather tips, check out the following resources:

A little thought and preparation set you up for an incident-free cold weather season.  Stay safe!