Red Cross offers winter safety tips

By The Active Age | January 9, 2024

With winter weather dominating the area this week, the American Red Cross released these tips to stay safe.
Staying safe at home:
• Use care with space heaters and fireplaces to prevent fires. Keep anything that could catch fire at least 3 feet from the heat.
• Avoid using candles because of the fire risk. Use battery-powered lights and flashlights instead.
• Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide poisoning is common during power outages when people use other means to heat and cook. You can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
o Only use generators, grills, and camp stoves outdoors and away from windows.
o Carbon monoxide kills. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak, get to fresh air right away — do not delay.
• To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and home fires, never heat your home with a cooking oven or stove.
In case of frostbite or hypothermia:
• Frostbite is when a part of your body freezes. Your nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, and toes often are the first affected. People may experience pain, numbness, and a change of skin color.
o What to do for frostbite: Move to a warm place. Warm the affected area gently by soaking in warm water (NOT hot) until the skin appears normal and feels warm. Seek emergency medical care.
• Hypothermia can kill you. It occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat. This causes a dangerously low body temperature. Older adults, babies, children, and people with certain health conditions are more at risk.
o Shivering is one of the first signs of hypothermia; other signs include confusion, drowsiness, and slurred speech.
o What to do for hypothermia: Seek emergency medical care right away. Move to a warm place. Remove any wet clothing and warm the body slowly.
Driving in winter conditions:
• Check your vehicle emergency supplies kit and replenish it if necessary.
• Bring enough of the following for each person:
o Blankets or sleeping bag
o Rain gear, extra sets of dry clothing, mittens, socks, and wool hats
o Newspapers for insulation
o Plastic bags for sanitation
o Canned fruit, nuts, and high energy snacks
o Warm broth in a thermos and several bottles of water
• Bring your cell phone and make sure the battery is charged.
• Plan to travel during daylight and, if possible, take another person with you.
• Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive.
• Before leaving, check the weather reports for all areas you will be passing through.
• Watch out for sleet, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and dense fog.
If you are stranded:
• Stay in the vehicle and wait for help. Do not leave the vehicle to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards.
• Display a trouble sign to indicate you need help. Hang a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) on the radio antenna and raise the hood after snow stops falling.
• Turn on the engine for about 10 minutes each hour. Use the heater while the engine is running. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and slightly open a downwind window for ventilation.
• Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so that you can be seen.
• Do light exercises to keep up circulation. Clap your hands and move your arms and legs occasionally.
• If more than one person is in the vehicle, take turns sleeping.
• Huddle together for warmth. Wrap yourself in newspapers, maps, and even the removable floor mats to help trap more body heat.
• Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
• Drink fluids to avoid dehydration, which can make you more susceptible to the ill effects of cold and to heart attacks.
• Avoid overexertion. Shoveling snow or pushing a vehicle can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse.