winter comes as no surprise, many of us are not ready for its
arrival. If you are prepared for the hazards of winter, you will be
more likely to stay safe and healthy when temperatures start to
Many people prefer to remain indoors in the winter, but staying
inside is no guarantee of safety. Take these steps to keep your
home safe and warm during the winter months.
- Winterize your home.
- Install weather stripping, insulation, and storm windows.
- Insulate water lines that run along exterior walls.
- Clean out gutters and repair roof leaks.
- Check your heating systems.
- Have your heating system serviced professionally to make sure
that it is clean, working properly and ventilated to the
- Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys.
- Install a smoke detector. Test batteries monthly.
- Have a safe alternate heating source and alternate fuels
- Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) emergencies.
- Install a CO detector to alert you of the presence of the
deadly, odorless, colorless gas. Check batteries regularly.
- Learn symptoms of CO poisoning: headaches, nausea, and
Get your car ready for cold weather use before winter
- Service the radiator and maintain antifreeze level; check tire
tread or, if necessary, replace tires with all-weather or snow
- Keep gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel
- Use a wintertime formula in your windshield washer.
- Prepare a winter emergency kit to keep in your car in case you
become stranded. Include
- 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
- Stock food
that needs no cooking or refrigeration and water stored in clean
- Keep an up-to-date emergency kit, including:
- Battery-operated devices, such as a flashlight, a National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio, and
- extra batteries;
- first-aid kit and extra medicine;
- baby items; and
- cat litter or sand for icy walkways.
Many people spend time outdoors in the winter working,
traveling, or enjoying winter sports. Outdoor activities can expose
you to several safety hazards, but you can take these steps to
prepare for them:
appropriate outdoor clothing: 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.
- Be aware of the wind chill factor.
- Work slowly when doing outside chores.
- Take a buddy and an emergency kit when you are participating in
- Carry a cell phone.
- Protect your family from carbon monoxide.
- Keep grills, camp stoves, and generators out of the house,
basement and garage.
- Locate generators at least 20 feet from the house.
- Leave your home immediately if the CO detector sounds, and call
When planning travel, be aware of current and forecast weather
traveling when the weather service has issued advisories.
- If you must travel, inform a friend or relative of your
proposed route and expected time of arrival.
- Follow these safety rules if you become stranded in your car.
- Stay with your car unless safety is no more than 100 yards
away, but continue to move arms and legs.
- 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.
- Run the engine and heater only 10 minutes every hour.
- Keep a downwind window open.
- Make sure the tailpipe is not blocked.
Above all, be prepared to check on family and neighbors who are
especially at risk from cold weather hazards: young children, older
adults, and the chronically ill. If you have pets, bring them
inside. If you cannot bring them inside, provide adequate, warm
shelter and unfrozen water to drink.
No one can stop the onset of winter. However, if you follow
these suggestions, you will be ready for it when it comes.