Winter Safety Tips
Winter is here and officially Chicago’s favorite season begins December 21. Significant snow accumulation followed by arctic temperatures will make the next few weeks the ideal time to watch movies, make hot chocolate, and sit by the fire. Unfortunately, you will have to go out sometime, if only to replenish the frig and check on loved ones.
FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Association has tips for winter safety and preparedness. FEMA recommends that you stock up for ‘days of isolation’ in your home. When the weather predicts snow and cold, go grocery shopping and if possible purchase alternative forms of heating. If you have a wood burning fireplace, stock up with extra firewood and store in a cool dry place.
Winterize your home and any other structure, such a shed and the garage to protect family members and pets. Make sure gutters and downspouts are free from debris and cut down tree branches that hang close to your home. Heavy snow can cause trees to topple so trim any loose branches. Plummeting temperatures can cause pipes to freeze, so insulate pipes to avoid freezing. Inform everyone where water shut off valves are located in the event a pipe bursts. Every home should be equipped with at least one fire extinguisher, make sure yours is full and functioning.Ice and snow make entering and exiting a chore. Keep pathways and sidewalks free from snow and ice. Rock salt melts ice on walkways, while sand improves traction. Keep snow shovels close to entry doors and one in the trunk of your car for emergencies.
As you pack your vehicle for winter emergencies include a blanket in case you ever get stuck. Now is the time for winter maintenance to ensure that antifreeze levels are good, brakes are tight, tire tread is sufficient, the exhaust system is free from leaks, the heater and defrosters function, lights are bright, and wiper blades keep the windshield clear.
Keep the gas tank at least half full at all times during the winter. Add a bottle of gas treatment when you fill up to prevent gas line freezing. The oil level should also be full so the motor starts in freezing temperatures.
Along with the shovel and blanker, FEMA recommends the following items in your winter emergency kit:
• Windshield scrapper and small broom
• Battery powered radio
• Extra Batteries
• Extra winter gear
• First Aid Kit
• Tow chain
• Road Salt and Sand
• Booster Cables
• Emergency Flares
A portable battery charger is also a good idea. Extreme temperatures can choke a new car battery – a charger will give your car a kick, which you can do yourself. They are affordable and great in a pinch – not having to wait for a tow truck is convenient and warm.
Dress in layers of lightweight fabrics and make sure to cover your mouth. Did you know that mittens are warmer than gloves? Gloves separate your fingers, while mittens keep them together allowing each to warm the other. Don’t forget socks and minimize exposure when possible. Make a pot of soup, don a warm sweater, steep a cup of tea, and curl up with a good book. It’s going to be a long winter!