This is the busiest time of year for travel, and also the time when our roadways are plagued with weather-related hazards. Even if you aren’t traveling this holiday season, for those of us in Northern states, winter weather makes even our routine commutes hazardous. It’s time to start thinking about winter safety.
With the stress that comes with packing, getting kids out the door, dropping the dog off at the pet hotel, and finishing up that last project at work, it’s easy to forget about winter safety, but weather this time of year can turn quickly and make conditions dangerous.
It’s important to be aware of winter safety to avoid disaster and keep your travels accident free.
For starters, it’s important to inspect your vehicle to make sure it’s ready to do battle with inclement weather conditions.
- Check your battery’s health, and make sure you have jumper cables with you.
- Tire tread
- Windshield wipers (and replace washer reservoir with no-freeze fluid)
If you’re drivining through a snowy part of the country, be sure to equip your vehicle with snow tires or all-weather tires, and travel with chains.
Before you get on the road, it’s important to brush up on some the basic rules of winter-weather driving.
Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination, since winter weather might slow things down. You don’t want to speed through ice and show.
If possible, practice maneuvering slowly on the ice and snow in an empty parking lot. Re-aquintanting yourselves with the nature of driving in winter conditions will boost your confidence in your winter driving skills so that your prepared for a snowy mountain pass or a frosty interstate.
Remember to give cars more space in these conditions, since it takes longer to stop on snow.
Steer into a skid, and know how your brake system (either antilock or non-antilock) will perform in icy conditions. With antilock brakes, you can stomp down with impunity; with non-antilock brakes, you’ll need to pump the brakes to avoid going into a skid.
Before you get on the road, prepare an emergency kit. Here are some things to consider as you provision this kit:
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Tow chain
- Traction aids such as sand or cat litter
- Emergency flares
- Road maps
- Change of clothes
Taking these precautions before you head out on the road will make your family all the more likely to arrive to your destination safely, and all the more prepared if inclement conditions get in your way.
Working In Icy Conditions
For those of us in snowy areas, our work responsibilities may increase in the winter months. We may be in charge of clearing snow from walks and roofs, but it’s important in this situations that we remember winter safety and don’t put ourselves in hazardous situations.
If you must remove snow from roofs, do so from the ground. Getting on roofs is risky in dry conditions, but add ice to the mix and it’s an accident waiting to happen. Use snow rakes—which basically look like garden hoes with longer handles and wider blades—to know of excess snow and prevent cave-ins.
If you work outside, you’ll need to be conscious of the following to increase your comfort, safety, and ability to do your job well.
Tips for staying safe in inclement conditions:
- Wear layers. Base layer is important—keep it on and keep it dry at all times
- You can adjust your temperature by adding or removing sweaters, jackets, hats, etc.
- Cover your ears. It’s important to keep your ears cozy to ward off tension headaches.
- Wear gloves. Keeping your hands and feet warm is essential to staying comfortable. Cold hands make you less dexterous, which can make you more susceptible to injury.
- Eat often. Food is fuel, so be sure to eat a lot of complex carbohydrates along with modest amounts fat and protein. A hunk of wholegrain bread and some dried fruits and nuts will help keep your tank full.
- Be conscious of your conditions. Sometimes, we take the familiarity we have with our workspace for granted, but winter conditions can change that.