WINTER SAFETY AND PREPAREDNESS
Winter SafeTips from CMC Safety Division
Preparing for a Winter Storm
Knowing your risks when it comes to winter weather conditions can help save your life and the life of a fellow Marine. Winter storms can bring freezing rain, ice, snow, high winds, or a combination of these conditions. They can cause power outages that last of days, make roads and walkaways very dangerous, and can affect working environments or off-duty activities. Planning and preparing can help you manage the impact of a winter storm.
Winterizing Your Car
Driving in the winter means snow, sleet, and ice that can lead to slower traffic, hazardous road conditions, hot tempers and unforeseen dangers. To help you make it safely through winter, here are some suggestions from the National Safety Council to make sure that you and your vehicle are prepared.
***Prepare your car for winter. Start with a checkup that includes:
- Checking the ignition, brakes, wiring, hoses and fan belts
- Changing and adjusting the spark plugs
- Inspecting the distributor
- Checking the battery
- Checking the tires for air, sidewall wear and tread depth
- Checking antifreeze level and the freeze line
- Schedule a tune-up. Check the owner's manual for the recommended interval to ensure better gas mileage, quicker starts and faster response on pick-up and passing power
- Listen to forecasts on the radio, TV, bale weather channel, or check weather reports in daily newspapers or reputable online sources
- Keep essential supplies and equipment stocked in your car such as jumper cables, a shovel or ice scraper, working flashlight with extra batteries, and a bag of salt or cat litter
- Keep non-perishable, high energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits, and hard candy
- In addition, if you are driving long distances in inclement weather conditions, you should also carry supplies to keep you warm, such as heavy woolen mittens, socks, a cap, and blankets
While shoveling snow can be a good exercise, it can also be dangerous for optimistic shovelers who take on more than they can handle. Here's a list of tips that most take for granted, but are super important to know before heading out to shovel snow:
Dress in layers and dress warmly. Most people throw on a heavy coat, and then quickly overheat once they've been at it a few minutes. This puts your heart under greater strain. Try wearing a shirt under a sweater under a light jacket, and strip off layers as you warm up. Remember that extremities, such as nose, ears, hands and feet, need extra attention during winter's cold. If the temperature is too cold, wear a turtleneck, cap, scarf, face protection, mittens, wool socks and waterproof boots.
Do it right. Shovel only fresh snow. Freshly fallen, powdery snow is easier to shovel than the wet, packed-down variety. Push the snow as you shovel. It's easier on your back than lifting the snow out of the way. Don't pick up too much at once. Use a small shovel, or fill only one-fourth or one-half of a large one. Lift with your legs bent, not your back. Keep your back straight. By bending and "sitting" into the movement, you'll keep your spine upright and less stressed. Your shoulders, torso and thighs can do the work for you.
Drink water. Most people shovel snow in the morning when they're dehydrated. Dehydration also stresses the heart, so drink a couple of glasses of water about thirty minutes before you start tossing snow.
Take it slow. Do not work to the point of exhaustion. If you run out of breath, take a break. If you feel tightness in your chest, stop immediately. Take a break every 5 or 10 minutes while you're working. And never let your heart rate exceed 85 percent of its maximum. To find out your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220.
Driving in Snow and Ice
If you don't have to drive--don't! But if you must, drive defensively and smart. Before you begin your trip, know the current road conditions. Call your local highway administration or state transportation department 1-800-367-ROAD. Here are more tips:
- Be alert for potential driving hazards including fallen branches and trees, downed electric lines and icy areas, such as shady sports and bridges
- Leave a few minutes early to allow extra time to get to your destination
- Slow down! Triple the usual distance between your car and the one ahead
- Stay in the plowed lanes; avoid driving over the ridges between the plowed areas. If you must switch lanes, slow down, signal and move over slowly
- Don't pass a snowplow or spreader unless it is absolutely necessary
- Don't park along the street. Snowplow drivers can't fully clear a road if cars are in their way
- If you skid, steer into the skid! /fir example, if the back of your car is skidding to the left, turn the steering wheel to the left
- Don't pump your brakes, and avoid locking them up. If your brakes lock, take your foot off the brake pedal for a moment
- If your car has an anti-lock braking system (ABS) and you must brake, then be sure to press the brake pedal and hold
- If you're involved in a fender-bender, more the cars out of the lanes of travel
- Keep an emergency winter driving kit with a blanket and flashlight in the car
- While driving, keep your headlights on. Keep them on and ice off your mirrors, windows and lights
If you Become Stranded
- Do not leave your car unless you know exactly where you are, how far it is to get possible help, and are certain you will improve your situation
- To attract attention, light two flares and place one at each end of the car a safe distance away. Hang a colored cloth from your antenna
- If you are sure the car's exhaust pipe is not blocked, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour or so depending upon the amount of gas in the tank
- To protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia, use warming items and blankets to keep warm
- Keep at least one window open slightly. Heavy snow and ice can seal a car door shut
- Eat a hard candy to keep your mouth moist
Winter Holiday Hazards
As exciting as the winter holidays are, keep in mind that decorating and entertaining can increase the risk for home fires and personal injuries. Celebrate with care by following these safety tips for avoiding winter holiday hazards.
- When shopping for a Christmas tree, choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched. Keep the tree at least three feet away from any heat source and make sure it does not block an exit. Check the tree stand daily and add water as necessary.
- If you plan on stringing outdoor lights, do it on a clear day. Use a ladder and safety harness if you intend to decorate the roof and second-story windows.
- If going out to enjoy the wintry outdoors, such as going for a brisk walk or playing in the snow, dress properly to avoid frostbite and hypothermia. Make sure you tell someone where you are headed, how long you will be gone, and your estimated time of return.
- Holiday shopping traffic jams, sudden storms and detours might mean that you have to spend much longer than you planned in your car. It can take two to three hours to drive as little as 15 miles on an icy road. Put together a winter-driving kit, including a pair of gloves, a warm hat, and a blanket.
- Guests and family members who are staying overnight may be traveling with medications. Make sure they are securely stored (in the guestroom medicine cabinet or a designated container) and out of reach of children and pets.
- Keep walkways clear of snow and ice to avoid slips, trips and falls. When clearing the pathway, use proper shoveling techniques to avoid hurting yourself: keep your back straight, bend at the knees, lift with your legs, and don't overdue it.
- After opening gifts, don't toss wrapping paper into the fire to avoid risk of flash-fire. Use fire kindling and split firewood. Also ensure that the chimney is swept and well-maintained before lighting it up.