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Winter Safety Tips For Your Family

Nov 17 2017 | Maple Crest

Blog Image Winter is a beautiful time of year. Snow-covered fields, swaths of ice and crisp air are wonderful outdoor changes that can make for great family fun. But the beauty can hide many dangers people face when recreating outdoors. Keep your family safe this winter by taking a few precautions and make sure everyone stays happy and healthy.

1. Dress for the conditions -This might appear self-evident, but there are a lot of factors that determine whether your clothes are warm enough or appropriate.
    • Quality clothes are a must.
    • Multiple thin layers are better than one thick layer.
    • Cotton provides poor insulation. Consider wool, silk, or polypropylene as better options.
    • Water is a great conductor of body heat, which means wet gloves and shoes are just as bad as using no gloves at all.
    • If you are out after dark (and many of us will be most of the day) make sure to wear brighter reflective clothing as drivers will have less opportunity to brake or avoid you at crosswalks or along streets.
    • Proper footwear is essential for protecting yourself from falling on sidewalk or road ice. Walk slower and pay attention to your step and stride to assure you avoid patches of ice that can cause a lot of damage.

2. Understand frostbite and hypothermia - Frostbite occurs when the skin approaches the freezing point. This can affect any skin on your body but is most prevalent on extremities. Hypothermia is a drop in overall body temperature.
    • Toes, fingers, face, and nose are danger zones.
    • Cold clothes, insufficient insulation (too few layers), wind chill, and length of exposure are primary risk factors.
    • If your skin gets too cold, it will go numb, and you won’t even feel the damage happening until it’s too late.
    • Children and very thin people are most at risk because their core temperature can drop very quickly.
    • For both frostbite and hypothermia, a simple test can help recognize symptoms early. Press firmly on the area in question with one finger, then watch the skin when you pull away. If the color doesn’t change, or changes slowly, then something may be wrong.
    • Also be aware of the color of skin. A little pink is fine for most folks, but the redness is a bad sign.
    • If you think you may have been affected by frostbite or hypothermia, contact a healthcare professional promptly.

3. Know the wind chill - Knowing the temperature isn’t enough. The wind chill effects your skin through many factors including temperature, wind speed, and air pressure. If the outside temperature is 36 degrees, but the wind chill is below freezing, then it is literally freezing outside! If you’re shivering persistently, you’d better get inside.

4. Clear your sidewalks-carefully - Take your time, and clear the sidewalk carefully. The most dangerous part of snow is that it hides ice. Don’t trust your eyes, trust your shovel. It is also a good practice to salt or sand ice patches on your driveway or sidewalks. Also, be aware there are significant city fines and the potential for legal exposure for improperly maintained sidewalks in front of your residence or office.

5. Heat your home responsibly - It may seem obvious, but don’t use kerosene, propane, or other open-flame heaters indoors. People die every year from fires and carbon monoxide, despite warnings and education. Also, don’t leave a space heater on in a room you aren’t in. This is even more important if you have pets or children. Make sure you install or check and test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home.

6. Decorate your home responsibly- String lights and electric lawn decorations generate heat. They also use a lot of electricity, so make sure you don’t have too many plugged in. Electrical fires are bad news, and if they start outside your home, they can cause serious structural damage before you even know something’s wrong. Turn off your lights when you leave or go to bed.

7. Avoid open flames of all kinds - When using your fireplace, keep a grate or metal curtain in front, to protect your kids, pets, walls, and carpet from flames and cinders. Candles, which are very popular during the holiday season, should be monitored during use and must be fully and carefully extinguished after use. It’s a good idea to keep them out of reach of children and stored in a secure location. And don’t put lit candles on the Christmas tree!

8. Check on friends, family, and neighbors regularly to make sure everyone is safe & warm.