For many people, winter is a magical time of the year. But, it can also be a dangerous season, both inside your home and out. Roads are more dangerous, a winter storm may hold you hostage inside, and there is always a risk of winter-related injuries, such as frostbite or hypothermia as well as a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Whether you are a fan of winter or not, it is important to be prepared for whatever challenges you may face during the season. Here are a few tips to help you prepare and stay safe for the most common winter hazards.
A winter storm can vary from a heavy snowfall to a freezing, hazardous blizzard. The severity of winter storms can range from only one county being affected to several states being without power and unsafe road conditions. Although it is important to prepare for any winter weather, knowing the difference between types of winter storms will not only help you be prepared for the worst, but it will help ensure you and your family are safe and warm.
- A Winter Storm Outlook: When this warning is issued, it means there is a possibility for winter storm conditions within the next 2-5 days.
- A Winter Weather Advisory: This means the winter weather conditions may be hazardous and could cause significant inconveniences, such as a power outage. If you take the appropriate cautions, this is not typically a life-threatening storm.
- A Winter Storm Watch: When this report is issued, it means there is a possibility for winter storm conditions within the next 36-48 hours, so you should have a winter storm plan in place and stay on top of the weather conditions.
- A Winter Storm Warning: This means that severe, life-threatening winter conditions have already begun or will begin within the next 24-hours. You should take immediate precautions if you are in a warning area.
It is important to watch updates on the news or listen to the radio for as long as possible before the power goes out. If you do not have access to a radio or news, use a laptop computer to access social media sites for updates.
How to Prepare for Winter Storms
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas, but it is deadly. Even a small leak can cause serious harm to everyone in your home, so one of the most important ways to prepare for a winter storm is to invest in a carbon monoxide detector. If you or your family becomes ill and you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, it is essential that you seek medical care immediately, whether it is at an urgent care facility or a local hospital. When preparing for a winter storm, it is important to have some basic survival items on hand, including:
- Non-perishable foods
- Bottled water
- A shovel
- Lighter or waterproof matches
- A grill or a camping stove (only use either outdoors)
- Extra blankets and warm clothing
- A cell phone and a portable cell phone charger
- Prescription medications
- A battery operated radio
Staying Safe Outdoors
Whether you are playing in the snow or shoveling the walks, practice safety precautions. While outside, it is essential that you dress warmly. Dressing in layers is best, and you should wear footwear that is waterproof, warm and skid resistant. Whenever possible, walk on the sidewalk or in the grass, never in the street and be careful when walking on unshoveled sidewalks.
First and foremost, it is important to make sure your car is ready for winter weather. Take it to a local mechanic to have the fluids checked, make sure the battery is in top condition and that your tires can handle the snow and ice. When driving, take your time and be aware of the other cars on the road. It is also important to keep an emergency kit in your car that includes:
- Kitty litter
- A small shovel
- An ice scraper
- Blankets and a change of warm clothing
- Bottle water
- Non-perishable snacks
Winter can be extremely dangerous, especially for the elderly and young children. It is essential that you know the signs of hypothermia and frostbite and seek medical care from a local urgent care or hospital if you experience any symptoms. If you have an elderly neighbor, make sure to check on them during a storm, especially if the power is out.
To learn more about winter safety or if you are concerned about possible winter related injuries, contact PrimeCare Urgent Care by phone or just walk-in, we’ll be happy to help you.