Whether you’re the type of person who gets excited when you see a snowflake in the forecast or someone who prefers to hunker down away from the cold, there’s no denying that winter weather brings its own set of joys and challenges. From slippery streets to drafty windows, there are a few things you need to prepare for as the temperature drops. Here are a few winter safety tips we gathered to make sure your home and family stay safe (and cozy) during this chilly season.
Take These Cold Weather Precautions at Home
You’re not the only one who needs to brace for brisk temperatures. While you pull your sweaters and puffy coats out of storage, don’t forget that your home will also need a little help to get through the winter. Here are a few tips from the CDC to help winterize your home:
If you have a Ring Alarm system, consider placing Flood & Freeze Sensors on flat surfaces near exposed pipes, so you can get an alert if there’s a leak or the temperature drops below 40° Fahrenheit.
Add weather stripping or caulk around windows and doors. Consider adding storm windows to prevent drafts.
Clean out your gutters and call a roofing professional to repair any leaks in your roof. While you’re pulling leaves and branches out of the gutters, take the opportunity to trim any branches that could fall on your house during a storm (or call a professional to help!).
Add insulation to your walls and attic to make your home more energy efficient (and retain more heat).
Follow These Cold Weather Safety Tips for Your Family (and Furry Friends)
When the temperature starts to creep towards the single digits (or worse — the negatives), you can do a few things to help protect your family in the cold. Here are a few winter safety tips we collected:
The CDC recommends having an alternative heating source available, like a wood-burning stove or portable gas heater, and stocking up on fuel.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), you should create a “kid-free zone” within three feet of heat sources like wood-burning stoves and fireplaces. (If they need extra help warming up after a sledding session, be sure to have plenty of hot cocoa at the ready!)
Have a snow shovel and ice melt or sand on hand to clear your steps, walkways, and driveways after it snows. Teach your children the Mayo Clinic’s tips on preventing falls in icy conditions, including wearing supportive footwear, walking slowly, taking small steps, and using handrails. If you don’t have to go anywhere during winter weather, the CDC recommends staying inside when possible.
Avoid Heating Mishaps With These Winter Home Safety Tips
Once your pipes, windows, walls, and loved ones are equipped to make it through winter storms, it’s time to turn your home into a warm, cozy haven for those frosty days. But before you pull out the space heater or light a roaring fire, be sure to follow these safety guidelines from the NFPA:
Test your smoke detectors once a month to make sure they work properly. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors if you don’t already have them in your home to help avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Call a professional to inspect your heating equipment and chimney. The Chimney Safety Institute of America explains that skipping your yearly chimney sweep could leave you with creosote buildup or blockages, which can cause flue fires or release carbon monoxide into your home.
Keep flammable items at least three feet away from your furnace, fireplace, space heater, and other heating equipment.
Only buy space heaters that come with a seal from a third-party testing lab.
Choose a device with a thermostat, overheat protection, and auto shut-off feature, so it turns off when the indoor air temperature is warm enough, the components inside get too hot, or it tips over.
Put the heater on a flat and solid surface and plug it directly into an outlet.
Always unplug space heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep.
Focus on Winter Driving Preparedness
Whether you’ve been driving in snow and ice for decades or are about to take your first spin in winter weather, it’s important to make sure you (and your car) are prepared.
Winterize Your Car
Before you head out to the grocery store or leave for your holiday road trip, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends checking your windshield wipers and wiper fluid. In a snowstorm, you might spray your windshield every few minutes, so be sure your reservoir is filled with de-icer fluid rated for winter weather. You should also ensure your car will be visible to other drivers by checking your headlights, turn signals, brake lights, hazards, and interior lights.
Since cold weather can also affect your batteries and tires, you should have an expert test your battery during winter and keep an eye on your tire pressure. If your tire pressure gets too low, fill it to your manufacturer’s recommended PSI.
If you’re planning a winter road trip, there’s more to do than topping off your wiper fluid. Learn how to prepare your home and car before you hit the highway. Read Our Travel Safety Tips
Be Prepared for Emergencies
Once your car is ready to hit the road, it’s time to focus on you. You never know when you’ll slow to a crawl in snowy traffic or get stuck in an icy patch on the road, so it’s best to have everything you might need on hand. According to the NHTSA, you should stock your car with these essentials:
A snow shovel and scraper
Sand or kitty litter to give your tires extra traction
A cell phone charger
Food, water, and medicine
Driving on a slush-covered road requires a little more caution than cruising down the highway on a sunny summer day. To help avoid slipping, sliding, and fender benders, you should always drive more slowly and lay off the gas and brake pedals in icy conditions, according to AAA. And even if your foot gets tired several hours into your winter road trip, you shouldn’t turn on cruise control — you need to be prepared to slow down gradually if you skid.
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