Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Preparing for Winter
In your car. It is not enough to throw a safety kit, including emergency equipment such as blankets, candles, a shovel and traction aids into the trunk of your car and think that you are ready for operating your vehicle in inclement weather. The single most important thing we can do while driving in severe winter conditions is to slow down. A safe speed for conditions might be well under the posted speed limit. Triple the normal driving distance between you and the car in front of you. If your vehicle begins to slip, immediately take your foot off the accelerator and steer gently in the direction you want the car to go.
If your car gets stuck, clear the snow in front of and behind your tires and spread sand, kitty litter or traction mats in the front and back of your tires. Gently accelerate until you feel the tires begin to spin. Put the car in reverse and back up slowly until stopped by the snow. Rock forward again using a low, steady speed.
At home. Have your heating system inspected to make sure it is working properly. If you have an alternative heating source, it should be UL approved and inspected before using.
Good insulation will also help if power is lost. Check for possible air leaks around doors and windows. Seal electrical outlets and switches on outside walls. Stock up on easy to prepare food, first aid supplies, batteries, flashlights and a battery-operated radio.
If you do get snowed in at home and the situation isn’t dire, just relax and preserve heat by hanging blankets over windows and doors. If you use a supplemental heating device, make sure it is UL approved, in good operating condition and maintaining safe distance from flammable items.
Outside. Make sure to remove garden hoses from outside faucets. Hopefully, you remembered to clean your gutters of leaves and debris. Better yet, install gutter guards. These can help keep snow and ice from building up, which can form ice damns and damage your house. Outside heating appliances like heat pumps must be clear of snow and debris to work efficiently.
If you have to go outside, wear tight and layered clothing and sturdy watertight shoes. Make sure to cover exposed parts of the body by wearing hats, gloves and scarves. Failure to protect skin and prolonged exposure to the cold can result in frostbite. The nose, cheeks, ears, fingers and toes (your extremities) are most commonly affected.