Are you winter ready? Check out these safety tips for chilly days

Now that it’s winter, it’s time to warm up your safety procedures in case of a weather-related emergency.

“Being safe in the winter means preparing with the necessary knowledge to protect yourself and others,” says Scott Pearson, director of risk and asset development for CHS Propane. “At CHS, we are committed to safety education in everything we do.”  

At Home 

Carbon Monoxide and Heating Precautions   

  • Make sure your home has functioning carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer. The invisible, odorless, colorless gas is responsible for hundreds of deaths each year. For best protection, the Minnesota Safety Council advises installing a carbon monoxide detector and alarm on every level of your home, especially near sleeping areas. Remember to double check that all batteries are strong and powering the device.  
  • Never use your oven or stovetop to heat your home. During a power outage, do not use a generator in an enclosed space. It is important to have an alternative heat source on hand. Candles and a kerosene- or propane-powered lamp would work to provide heat. Remember to keep a jug of kerosene or a tank of propane on hand if your backup heaters use this fuel.   
  • Have your home heating system inspected every year, especially if it burns natural gas or oil. 

Heating your Home

  • If you use propane or heating oil to heat your home, make sure your tank is always filled enough to get through very cold stretches.

In-home Emergency Kit 

  • Keep an emergency supply kit in your home that includes a battery-powered radio with extra batteries, canned food, a manual can opener, flashlights and battery-powered lamps, wood for fireplaces, and rock salt to melt ice. 

Shoveling Snow   

  • Shoveling snow can be a dangerous chore. Cold weather mixed with heightened activity and heightened blood pressure, heavy lifting and slippery surroundings leads to thousands of injuries and as many as 100 deaths each year, according to the National Safety Council. Take it slow, push the snow rather than lift it and use your legs, not your back, to lift. If possible, find a snow blower to clear heavy, wet snow. 

On the Road 

Vehicle Prep Kit   

  • You never know when you may encounter mechanical issues or an icy patch, so take preventive safety measures when driving. The National Weather Service suggests putting together an emergency supply kit for your vehicle. Your kit should include blankets; spare clothing, hats and mittens; jumper cables; a spare tire; a first-aid pack; cell phone charger; water and snacks; a flashlight and batteries; shovel; ice scraper; flares; a tow rope; and sand or cat litter.  
  • Never warm up your vehicle in the garage or any other indoor space, even if exterior doors are open. 

Winter Weather Driving Tips 

  • Do not use cruise control in slippery conditions  
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly, especially near intersections   
  • Leave an eight- to 10-second gap between you and the vehicle ahead of you 
  • Know your brakes. If the wheels start to lock, release the pressure briefly and repeat. 
  • Don’t power up hills; your tires could slip. Try gaining some inertia before reaching the incline and don’t stop mid-hill. Take it slow going downhill.  
  • If you get stranded, stay with your vehicle. You’re safest in your car. 
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