The weather certainly has been mild recently, but we know that every winter will have its share of ice and snow. The following tips will help get you through the winter season safely, when the cold, sleet and snow make their annual appearance.
1. Use Caution While Shoveling Snow
Shoveling snow (especially heavy, wet snow) can be strenuous. Use proper lifting technique to avoid hurting your back. Try to keep your back straight and lift with your legs. Always scoop small amounts of snow at a time and try to avoid turning or twisting your body. If you are over 55 or have had a heart problem, ask your doctor if it is safe to shovel snow. Remember that cold weather puts more stress on your body, including your heart.
2. Be Extra Careful Around Snow Blowers
Each winter, many people are severely injured when working with snow blowers. Usually this occurs when the operator tries to clear jams while the equipment is still turned on. Never attempt to clear a jam by hand. Always turn the snow blower off and wait for moving parts to stop. Then, use a long stick to clear the snow or debris. Also, never add fuel when the equipment is running or hot as this can be a fire hazard.
3. Prevent Slips on Snow and Ice
After a storm, be sure to clear walking surfaces around your home of snow and ice. In addition to shoveling, spreading de-icing products and/or sand can help make walkways less hazardous. Wearing boots with soles that offer good traction can help prevent falls. Always take short steps and walk at a slower pace when conditions are slippery and traction is limited.
4. Space Heaters Can Be Dangerous
Keep in mind that space heaters can cause fires by overstressing electrical circuits (drawing more power than the wires can handle). Signs of wires overheating include blackened electrical outlets and walls that feel warm to the touch. Space heaters are safer if used at less than maximum power. If you do use a space heater, always place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away. Always turn off space heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.
5. Use Generators Safely
When buying a generator, make sure that it will produce enough power for your needs and be careful not to overload circuits. It’s important to always use generators outside. Running a generator inside your garage, basement or other enclosed area can cause carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. If you use a generator, your home should have a working carbon monoxide alarm to warn you if dangerous exhaust gases enter your home. Remember that carbon monoxide cannot be seen or smelled. Always store fuel for a generator outside of the home and never near a furnace or hot water heater.