Tips for staying safe during wintry weather
There's something magical about a season's first snow. It's pretty and clean. Maybe it makes you want to stay inside, rent a movie on Netflix, and make soup. But, what if you can't do that every time Mother Nature sends a storm your way? What if you have to get to work? What if you just need to get outside and exercise? How can you enjoy the look and feel of a snow storm while also staying safe? Follow these tips, and you'll be on your way to embracing winter and all the wonder of snow rather than the headaches of it!
Prep your car
Don't wait until the first snowflakes fly to make sure your car is ready. Taking some time now to plan ahead may help you avoid some stressful situations or headaches later!
- Check your tire pressure and keep it at the recommended levels (check your owner's manual). You should continue to do this on a regular basis throughout winter.
- Make sure the tread of your tires isn't too worn. How can you do this? By using a penny! Put the penny in the tread with Lincoln's head facing down. If you can see the top of his head, you need to invest in new tires! (This really goes for any time of the year, not just winter.)
- If you live in an area that sees a lot of snow, you may want to consider buying snow tires and getting them put on before the first storm.
- Schedule an appointment to have the following checked:
- Antifreeze levels
- Fluid levels
Keep a “winter kit” in your car that includes:
- Extra change of clothes
- Bottled water
- Non-perishable food such as granola bars, nuts
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First-aid kit
- Tool kit
- Windshield fluid
- Jumper cables
- Flares or reflective triangles
Also, make sure you have an ice scraper and snow brush in the car. A shovel and bag of sand or kitty litter (used for traction if you get stuck) are musts as well.
For more valuable information on being prepared for winter driving, visit the National Safety Council.
Factor in extra time
Go slowly and make sure you allow for the extra time it might take you to get to where you are going. This is just as important for walking as it is for driving. And also remember to budget time for cleaning off the car and letting it warm up.
Now that your car is ready to face the elements of winter, how are you feeling about your abilities to drive in them? Are you confident behind the wheel when there's snow, sleet or ice on the roads? Do you trust your intuition when it's telling you it's best to stay in rather than risk the roads? Take some time to think about that. Really, if the roads are hazardous, and you don't absolutely need to go out, stay home! But, if you do have to venture into the weather, AAA offers some great advice such as:
- Wear your seatbelt, always.
- Don't let your gas tank go below half full during the winter.
- Don't use cruise control when driving in wintry conditions.
- Where you want to go is where you want to look and steer.
- Check weather reports if you are taking a road trip. Consider canceling if there is an impending storm. If you absolutely have to go, be sure to tell a family member or friend the route you plan to take, and what time you are leaving.
- Never allow your car to warm up in an enclosed garage, even with the door open.
- Remember that everything takes longer on slippery roads (stopping, turning, etc.)
- Don't stop on a hill. It's very difficult to get going again.
Common sense is important. If you are thinking you shouldn't do something or go somewhere, don't. It's always better to be extra cautious than having to deal with a scary or dangerous situation during a storm or on slick roads.
It seems that talk about winter weather usually centers around driving, but walking in it can be just as tricky. Whether you are walking to work or just to get some exercise, remember to pay attention to your surroundings!
- Walk slowly and carefully on snow or sleet-covered sidewalks. Also, it's always good to remember that sometimes you can see ice and sometimes you can't.
- Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. Watch out for cars that might slip and slide off the road.
- Look up. You also want to be mindful that snow and ice can fall from tree branches and buildings above you.
Pack your work shoes or heels in a bag to carry back and forth to school or the office. Wear flat, winter boots or shoes with good traction when you venture out into winter weather.
Clearing a path
The overnight storm left a beautiful blanket of snow – over everything! Well, it might look beautiful from your window, but once you get outside to clear a path, you might not be thinking that for long! Or, maybe you love being out in the cold air and using your muscles. Either way, make sure that you prepared to tackle the task at hand by doing the following:
- Hydrate. Drink some water before you jump out into the snow.
- Fuel up. Stock up your body's energy by feeding it a healthy meal before you ask it to stretch, strain and move. Some suggestions include a breakfast of eggs and whole-grain toast or hot oatmeal with fruit and nuts mixed in.
- Dress appropriately. Wear a hat, gloves and winter boats. Also, wear layers so as the temperature (or you) warms up, you can take off a scarf or sweater.
- Ask for help. Do you have children or siblings? Bring them out to help. Make it fun instead of a chore by seeing who can clear their section the fastest, tossing a few snowballs and making some snow angels.
- Take breaks. Depending on how long you are outside, the weather conditions, and how much you need to shovel, plan to take breaks to warm up fingers and toes, to drink more water, and to refuel with a snack.
We hope these tips will help you enjoy a safe winter season. Now throw on some boots, gloves, hat, and a coat, and head outside to play!
This post is part of the Salter College weekly blog. Contact us today to learn more about applying to our various career training programs, or to request more information. We look forward to hearing from you.