Winter Tips to Keep You Safe
Winter brings great holidays, family time, and good food. But it also brings cold and sometimes bad weather, which means snow and ice. The number of falls and injuries increase at this time of year due to slipping on the ice and snow. There are some things you can do though to help decrease the risk of falling.
Most importantly, if traveling outdoors in bad weather, plan ahead and take your time, and, if staying indoors, stay active and remove potential fall risks.
When going outdoors in the snow and ice:
- Check your footwear: Walking on snow or ice is especially treacherous, and wearing proper footwear is essential. Wear good shoes with good tread/traction, because better traction helps keep you more stable. A pair of well insulated boots with good rubber treads is a must for walking during or after a winter storm. Keeping a pair of rubber over-shoes with good treads which fit over your street shoes is a good idea during the winter months. Or better still, if you need to wear dress shoes, bring them with you and change once you arrive at your location.
- During the daytime, wear sunglasses to minimize the sun’s glare off the ice and snow, which will help you see better and avoid hazards.
- Wear strong, warm gloves and keep your hands out of your pockets.
- Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: layers of light, warm clothing; mittens; hats; scarves; and waterproof boots.
- Keep the shovel and salt or cat litter in your house (not outside) so you do not have to walk across a slippery surface to get them.
- Keep pathways clear if possible.
- When walking on an icy or snow-covered walkway, take short steps and walk at a slower pace so you can react quickly to a change in traction.
- Check railings to ensure sturdiness – if you slipped would the rail support you?
- Ask for help if you have to walk across an icy sidewalk or parking lot.
- Have a plan: Know what you would do if you fell.
- Bring a whistle or cell phone when you leave the house so that if you fall and are unable to get up, you can call for assistance.
If staying indoors:
- Stay active! Keeping moving even if just walking laps in the house or the hallway.
- Strengthen your legs. Strong leg muscles keep you sturdy and can help you get up easier if you do fall.
- Use caution if putting down extra rugs (which is common this time of year). Rugs can bunch-up or slide, causing an increased risk for tripping or falling.
- Keep smaller areas free of clutter.
- Have adequate lighting in hallways, stairways, and pathways. Because it gets dark earlier at this time of year, use light timers as appropriate. In addition, use nightlights as appropriate in areas that are accessed in the middle of the night (ex: bathrooms, hallways).
- Keep extra electrical cords out of walk ways in the home.
Don’t Forget Your Car ̶ Winterize Your Vehicle
Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
- Antifreeze levels - ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
- Battery and ignition system - should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
- Brakes - check for wear and fluid levels.
- Exhaust system - check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
- Fuel and air filters - replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Windshield wiper equipment - repair any problems, replace worn wiper blades, and maintain proper washer fluid level.
- Install good winter tires - Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.