With weather forecasters warning metro Atlanta and DeKalb County residents about the possibility of severe winter weather in 2017, it is time to think about the hazards of winter. Being aware of the dangers of winter likely will keep us all safer and healthier when temperatures start to fall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC offers the following advice:
Many people prefer to remain indoors in the winter, but staying inside is no guarantee of safety. Take these steps to keep home safe and warm during the winter months.
- Winterize the home.
o Install weather stripping, insulation and storm windows.
o Insulate water lines that run along exterior walls.
o Clean out gutters and repair roof leaks.
- Check heating systems.
o Have heating systems serviced professionally to make sure that it is clean, working properly, and ventilated to the outside.
o Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys.
o Install a smoke detector. Test batteries monthly and replace them twice a year.
o Have a safe alternate heating source and alternate fuels available.
o Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) emergencies.
- Install a CO detector to alert occupants of the presence of the deadly, odorless, colorless gas. Check batteries when clocks are adjusted in the fall and spring.
- Learn symptoms of CO poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.
Get cars ready for cold weather use before winter arrives.
- Service the radiator and maintain antifreeze level; check tire tread or, if necessary, replace tires with all-weather or snow tires.
o Keep gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
o Use a wintertime formula in windshield washer.
o Prepare a winter emergency kit to keep in vehicles in case one becomes stranded. The kit should include:
- cell phone, portable charger, and extra batteries;
- food and water;
- booster cables, flares, tire pump, and a bag of sand or cat litter (for traction);
- compass and maps;
- flashlight, battery-powered radio, and extra batteries;
- first-aid kit; and
- plastic bags (for sanitation).
Be prepared for weather-related emergencies, including power outages.
- Stock food that needs no cooking or refrigeration and water stored in clean containers.
- Ensure that cell phones are fully charged.
- When planning travel, be aware of current and forecast weather conditions.
- Keep an up-to-date emergency kit, including:
o Battery-operated devices, such as a flashlight, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio, and lamps;
o extra batteries;
o first-aid kit and extra medicine;
o baby items; and
o cat litter or sand for icy walkways.
- Protect family and friends from carbon monoxide.
o Keep grills, camp stoves and generators out of the house, basement and garage.
o Locate generators at least 20 feet from the house.
o Leave home immediately if the CO detector sounds, and call 911.
Many people spend time outdoors in the winter working, traveling, or enjoying winter sports. Outdoor activities can expose people to several safety hazards, but steps can be taken to prepare for them:
- Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: wear a tightly woven, preferably wind-resistant coat or jacket; inner layers of light, warm clothing; mittens; hats; scarves; and waterproof boots.
- Sprinkle cat litter or sand on icy patches.
- Learn safety precautions to follow when outdoors.
o Work slowly when doing outside chores.
o Take a buddy and an emergency kit when participating in outdoor recreation.
o Carry a cell phone.
When planning travel, be aware of current and forecast weather conditions.
- Avoid traveling when the weather service has issued advisories.
- If travel is necessary, inform a friend or relative of one’s proposed route and expected time of arrival.
- Follow these safety rules if one becomes stranded in one’s car.
o Stay with the car unless safety is no more than 100 yards away, but continue to move arms and legs.
o Stay visible by putting bright cloth on the antenna, turning on the inside overhead light (when engine is running), and raising the hood when snow stops falling.
o Run the engine and heater only 10 minutes every hour.
o Keep a downwind window open.
o Make sure the tailpipe is not blocked.
Above all, be ready to check on family and neighbors who are especially at risk from cold weather hazards: young children, older adults, and the chronically ill. Pets should be brought inside or provided adequate, warm shelter and unfrozen water to drink.
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