Tag - snow safety

Snow Safety: Part One – Driving Snow and Ice Covered Roads

  The kids are all singing “let it snow, let it snow, let it snow" hoping for days off school and time for snowball fights and sled rides. While it sure is beautiful, most adults find it to be a pain, especially when it comes to driving snow covered streets and roads. At the very least, it can make life inconvenient but at worst it can be downright dangerous. We’ve put together a three part series on staying safe and healthy in the snow. Driving snow covered roads and icy streets can be a challenge, so today we focus on navigating the white stuff! We are one snowy nation! Around 70% of U.S. roads will see 5 or more inches of snow each year and vehicle accidents result in about 1,300 fatalities per year. Here are some tips to keep you safe as you navigate the ice, slush and snow. . .
  • Bridges, overpasses and rarely travelled roads are the first to freeze. If conditions are wet, these areas can become icy before the temperatures even drop below freezing.
  • Be sure to brake gently when driving snow or ice covered streets and roads. If standard brakes lock, pump gently and if anti-lock brakes do lock up, apply steady pressure (they may begin to pulse and make noise when doing so).
  • Never pass a snowplow. These vehicles have limited visibility and conditions ahead of them are more than likely worse than behind them.
  • Allow enough space between you and the car ahead of you. About 3 car lengths for every 10mph you are travelling.
  • If you begin to slide and it’s your rear tires, take your foot off the accelerator and steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels then begin sliding in the opposite direction, ease the steering wheel in the same direction as the tires. Repeat gently until the car is under control. If your front tires are sliding, take your foot off the accelerator and put the car in neutral. When traction returns, gently steer the car in the direction you want to go, put the vehicle back in drive and slowly accelerate.
  • If you get stuck, turn your wheels from side to side to push the snow. If needed, get out and try to shovel some snow away from the tires and undercarriage. Go easy with gentle acceleration to avoid spinning your tires.
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Stay Safe in the Snow – Hypothermia

In our third and final piece on how to Stay Safe in the Snow, we are sharing ways to avoid, recognize and treat hypothermia. In cold temperatures, the body cannot produce heat as fast as it’s losing it and this can lead to serious health problems. Hypothermia happens gradually and people become confused and unaware that this life threatening condition is happening to them. Avoiding Hypothermia
  • Dress appropriately! Make sure areas most likely to be affected by frostbite are covered including your nose, ears, cheeks, chin and fingers. It is best to dress in layers and it’s best if the outer layer is something wind and waterproof. As for the inner layers, go for wool or fleece. Do not wear cotton as the base layer. Because cotton retains moisture, dries slowly and loses its thermal properties causing your core temperature to drop.
  • Carry at least one thermal heat blanket in your car’s emergency kit.
  • Avoid activities where you might sweat a lot if possible. Stay as dry as possible.
  • Rain, sweat or snow can cause hypothermia in temperatures as warm as 40 degrees Farenheit. Be aware!
Recognizing Hypothermia
  • Uncontrollable shivering means the body cannot warm itself.
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty forming thoughts/confusion
  • Lack of energy/unconsciousness
  • Weak pulse/shallow breathing
Treating Hypothermia
  • If you cannot call 911 or get emergency help, the first thing to do is seek any kind of shelter you can find, the warmer the better.
  • Remove wet clothes immediately. Get into dry clothes and/or  layers of blankets. Skin to skin contact is beneficial.
  • If using warming packs/compresses from a first aid kit, place them on the chest and groin area not the legs or arms. This will force cold blood to rush to the heart.
  • Do NOT drench the body in hot water or rub skin vigorously as this is too taxing on the heart.
  • It’s okay to drink warm liquids slowly but avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Since skin may be numb, victims of frostbite may unintentionally harm themselves further. Do not walk on feet or toes affected by frostbite unless absolutely necessary for survival. Don’t rub or massage frostbit areas.Don’t use a fireplace, heat lamp, stove, heating pad or electric blanket for warming this can be damaging to the skin and if the heart is struggling, could cause cardiac arrest. It is good to place afflicted areas in warm-to-the-touch water, not hot.
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Stay Safe in the Snow – Snow Shoveling Tips

  Last week we gave you some suggestions for driving in the snow in part one of our Stay Safe in the Snow series. Today it’s snow shoveling tips as we focus on how to take care of your body when you have to shovel the snow away from steps, sidewalks and driveways. It’s really all about body mechanics. Snow shoveling is a rigorous task and one people can easily get hurt doing. Snow Shoveling Tips:
  • First and foremost, check with your doctor if you are unsure of whether you are in healthy enough condition to be shoveling snow in the first place. Don’t be stubborn! Your life is worth more than a cleared sidewalk!
  • Stretch before you go out! The cold can be hard on your muscles. Limber up a little, for at least 10 minutes to warm up and to avoid strain. Concentrate on your lower back and hamstrings. Shoveling a driveway can burn up to 500 calories!
  • Be sure you are dressed for the weather. Layers of light, water-repellent clothing are best. Don’t forget a hat, gloves and slip-resistant boots.
  • Find a lightweight, ergonomic snow shovel. One with a curved handle or adjustable handle length will minimize bending.
  • Spray the shovel blade with cooking oil to keep snow from sticking. It’ll slide right off.
  • Pay attention to what’s around you. Watch where you are stepping and when shoveling near a street pay attention to the traffic since they may not have good traction in the snow and ice.
  • Push the snow when you can. Use your legs, not your back to lift the snow if you can’t push it.
  • Keep your back straight when you move from a squat to an upright position.
  • Hold the shovel close to your upper body. Keep one hand close to the blade of the shovel for better leverage.
  • Never twist your body as you throw snow. Your back will thank you! Use those shoulder muscles. Walk and dump it instead of throwing it.
  • Keep hydrated. Rest frequently and always ask for help if it’s just too much!
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