Stay safe during winter weather.

Matt Miller, HSE Training Specialist

When it comes to keeping you and your loved ones safe, winter weather brings a host of challenges. Two of the biggest are slick, slippery surfaces and freezing temperatures.

The best way to stay safe is to stay weather aware. Oftentimes, severe winter weather is forecasted a week or two in advance, so staying informed to your local weather experts is the best way to plan ahead and protect yourself. Even when winter weather strikes without warning, staying informed can make a big difference in keeping you safe.

Driving is a major cause of injury and property damage during the winter. Before driving on slick roads during severe weather, tell someone when and where you’re traveling, and let them know when you have arrived. If you have an issue while traveling, or you don’t make it to your destination as expected, this will let them know and expedite their help.

Wrecks are a major concern, but so is your car breaking down. A broken down car caught in cold weather can lead to hypothermia. Properly maintaining your vehicle will help you avoid any issues. Make sure your tires have the correct tread depth and air pressure to provide traction on slick surfaces (remember that air pressure decreases when temperatures drop). Maintain your windshield wipers, which can dry out and deteriorate over time, making them unable to remove water. If you’re traveling in severe weather, also always keep a cell phone, charger, warm clothes, snacks and water with you. Also, something to dig with, a tow strap, and some salt, sand or kitty litter (to help melt ice) are great ideas.

Slippery surfaces are dangerous when driving, but are also hazardous if you’re just walking around. Treat outside surfaces, such as cement or asphalt, with salt, sand or kitty litter to melt ice and provide traction. While you may want to keep your hands in your pockets to stay warm, wear gloves and keep your hands free to catch yourself during a fall. Many people suffer head and neck injuries from falling with hands in their pockets; don’t be one of them. Also, move slowly, take deliberate steps, use handrails when available, and walk in shoes with good traction (so no sandals or heels).

Winter weather can be dangerous, but by following these tips, you’ll go a long way towards keeping you and your family safe.

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