When in Kansas, you know the drill. Winter weather can bring anything from cold, ice, snow, rain and wind. Making it worse, any combination of those conditions can lead to power outages, slippery surfaces and serious injuries from falls.
Hurting yourself during winter time can be stressing on your body. If you fall outdoors and cannot get back up, you may be stuck outdoors in the cold until help arrives.
When old man winter starts to cause issue, there are some easy ways to keep you from having to venture outdoors.
- What food to have on hand?
- Staying warm during power outages
- Ice melt and snow removal
- Why do I need to keep my vehicle full of fuel?
- Are my tires ready for winter?
- Vehicle maintenance
- Critical supplies to keep in my vehicle
What food to have on hand?
When it comes to winter time, cold weather and snow can keep you cooped up in your home for several days. Even a mild winter storm storm can cause disruption to your routine. That is why you should keep a minimum three-day supply of food on hand at any given time.
What kinds of food?
- Long Shelf Life: canned goods and dry mix are preferred
- Ready Made: without electricity, your stove might be out of operation, so foods that don’t require heating or advanced cooking needs are recommended
- Avoid salt and spicy foods: these foods can increase thirst causing you to go through more water than usual
- Bottled Water: keep at least one gallon of drinkable water per person per day. Your goal should be to have a two week supply of water on hand. Yes, that is a lot of water, but without it, you may be in real trouble during a winter emergency.
How to stay warm during a power outage?
When winter weather causes power outages, you may be faced with some concerns about how to stay warm. Keeping your core body temperature normal is important for your health and if your home furnace is out of order because of a power outage, you will need to find safe ways to stay warm.
- Blankets: Have warm blankets to wrap up in if the power goes out. Wool blankets have some of the best reviews for keeping you warm. The goal is for the blanket to trap your body heat under the blanket so thicker fabric is ideal.
- Coats: Having a good winter coat on hand to wear inside your home during a power outage can keep you warm
- Fireplaces: Fireplaces use to be used to keep homes warm, but modern furnaces do a much better job. The biggest problem? Power outages will stop your furnace from running. You may be tempted use your fireplace if the power goes out, but be careful.
- Newer homes: If your home is newer, you will likely have a gas burning fireplace with state of the art chimneys and exhaust systems. It is important to have these fireplaces inspected at least once a year.
- Older homes: If you live in an older home, you might have a wood burning fireplace. These fireplaces aren’t always efficient and can post a serious fire risk. With time, cracks and flammable buildups can happen in the chimney. You need to have your fireplace inspected at least once a year. If you haven’t had your fireplace inspected recently and haven’t used it for awhile, it could be dangerous to resort to building a fire inside it.
- Windows and doors: Try to keep your windows shut with the drapes closed to help eliminate drafts. Going in and out of your home will let more cold air inside. Try to limit trips outdoors to help retain warm air inside and keep cold air outside.
- Gas burning devices: While gasoline burning engines can help generate power, you need to be extremely careful. Generators and vehicles pose fire hazards and health hazards. If you are using a generator to supply your home with electricity during a power outage, make sure to follow the manufactures recommendation. If you run to your car and plan to use it to stay warm, make sure you do so outdoors. Both generators and vehicles can run hot enough to start a fire and generate poisonous gases that can kill.
Shake it. Don't break it!
Did you know? Winter slips and falls are one of the leading causes of workplace injuries. Often these accidents occur as you step out of your vehicle on arrival at work or as you’re leaving for home.
NMC Health encourages you to add a “Shake it. Don’t Break it.” bottle to your vehicle. These bottles are designed to fit in cupholders for convenient access. it’s a great tool to help you stay on your feet and avoid injury when slick weather arrives!
Any bottle will do but a flip lid is highly recommended for the sand, salt or mix.
The best way to avoid the hospital from a slip and fall is easy: don’t fall. The real world doesn’t apply to this though so instead, we need to focus on prevention to avoid broken bones.
Having snow shovels, sand and ice melt can help keep your outdoor walkways slip free. It is important to remember your limitations though. If you have heart health issues, mobility issues or suffer from joint pain, going outside in the cold can be dangerous.
Asking for help or hiring a professional to clear your sidewalk, outdoors stairs, porches and driveways may keep you from hurting yourself.
Sometimes we will go several days with winter weather and that means you will have to get outside. If the weather forecast calls for several inches of snow, having your car ready for winter weather is important. Getting stuck, having a mechanical break down and being involved in a car accident are all possible during winter storm systems.
Why do I need to keep my vehicle full of fuel?
Full tank of gas: always make sure that you try to keep your car’s gas tank full of gas during the winter. If you become stranded, you may have to rely on your vehicle for shelter. A full tank of gas means your car can run longer and keep you warm.
Are my tires ready for winter?
Good tires: If your tires are worn down, poorly aligned or out of balance, you may face issues travelling in winter weather.
Worn tires: your tires need a decent amount of tread to give your vehicle enough traction to stop, steer and accelerate on slick roads. Check with a trusted mechanic to see if your tires are good to go for winter weather.
Poorly Aligned: If your vehicle doesn’t drive straight down the road without you holding the steering wheel or if the vehicle drives straight down the road but the steering wheel isn’t centered, your car’s suspension may be out of alignment. This is a bad situation when the roads are in good condition, add in slippery ice and snow, these alignment issues could cause you to loose control of your vehicle.
Make sure your car has a good battery, the radiator fluid is topped off and within chemical specifications and tire pressure is checked. A breakdown on the side of the road during a winter storm exposes you to cold weather and getting involved in a car accident.
Also, make sure your windshield washer fluid is rated for cold weather and full to help prevent snow and ice buildup on your windows.
Critical supplies to have on hand
Make sure you keep clothing in your vehicle to keep you warm if you are stranded and your vehicle won’t run. A coat, gloves, hat, socks, winter boots and a scarf can be the difference between life and death.
Fully charge your cell phone and make sure you have a charger in your car in case of an emergency.
Also keep food and water in your vehicle to keep metabolism going if you are stranded.
Lastly, a tow rope and items to help you recover your vehicle if you become stranded are important. Many newer cars are difficult to recover with a tow rope and a good Samaritan willing to pull you out my cause damage to your vehicle in the recovery process. You may be better off calling for a tow truck with professional vehicle recovery tools.
CDC, Digging Out: 5 Ways to Prepare Your Health to Shovel Snow
CDC, Prescriptions: Prepare Your Medicine Cabinet for an Emergency
Chimney Safety Institute Of American, FAQs