Baby It’s Cold Outside!

IMG_3388No one needs to tell Syracusans what winter is all about — though certainly Boston might have something to say on that topic.  Our lake effect snow storms are the white stuff that legends are made of. But what we might need a little reminding of, is that snowstorms, blizzards, Nor’easters and extreme cold can be, well, extremely dangerous.

Below are some safety tips provided by some national organizations that make it their business to help keep us safe.

 

The National Fire Protection Association provides the following guidelines for using heating equipment during winter months and are well worth following.

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Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February. Some simple steps can prevent most heating-related fires from happening.

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly.

Download these NFPA safety tips on home heating.

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The Center for Disease Control and Prevention cautions us about outdoor safety including recreational activities and travel during winter with the following points:

  • Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: layers of light, warm clothing; mittens; hats; scarves; and waterproof boots.
  • Sprinkle cat litter or sand on icy patches.
  • Learn safety precautions to follow when outdoors.
  • Be aware of the wind chill factor.
  • Work slowly when doing outside chores.
  • Take a buddy and an emergency kit when you are participating in outdoor recreation.
  • Carry a cell phone.

When planning travel, be aware of current and forecast weather conditions.

  • Avoid traveling when the weather service has issued advisories.
  • If you must travel, inform a friend or relative of your proposed route and expected time of arrival.
  • Follow these safety rules if you become stranded in your car.
    • Stay with your car unless safety is no more than 100 yards away, but continue to move arms and legs.
    • Stay visible by putting bright cloth on the antenna, turning on the inside overhead light (when engine is running), and raising the hood when snow stops falling.
    • Run the engine and heater only 10 minutes every hour.
    • Keep a downwind window open.
    • Make sure the tailpipe is not blocked.

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The NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services offers many additional safety tips for the entire year and their site is worth taking a look at.  Being prepared isn’t just a slogan for boy scouts, it’s something we should all consider.

Perhaps most importantly — be prepared to check on those most vulnerable to severe weather conditions: young children, older adults, the chronically ill, and yes our pets.

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