What do frozen pipes, skidding tires, and high heating bills have in common? They’re all winter-weather troubles that can be avoided with adequate preparation. With another winter storm upon us this week, review this list of winter safety tips from Safety and Facilities to help you stay safe.

Do your part to help keep Vincentian safe.

  • Salt Vincentian walkways if it’s needed. Salt is available at or near the entrances to all Vincentian buildings. Don’t wait for maintenance. Anyone can use it.
  • If the parking lot needs to be cleared, notify your supervisor or your maintenance manager.
  • When entering the building, wipe up any water that may have dripped from your shoes, boots or clothing.

Working, Playing and Walking Outdoors

  1. Limit your time outdoors if it’s very cold, wet or windy.
  2. Bundle up in layers of loose clothing.
    • For your inner layer, wear fabrics that will hold more
      body heat and don’t absorb moisture. Wool, silk, or
      polypropylene will hold more body heat than cotton.
    • An insulation layer will help you retain heat by trapping
      air close to your body. Natural fibers, like wool, goose down, or a fleece work best.
    • The outermost layer helps protect you from wind, rain, and snow. It should be tightly woven, and preferably water and wind resistant, to reduce loss of body heat. Wear mittens instead of gloves to keep your fingers warm. Cover your head and ears with a warm hat.
  3. Care for your heart. Don’t overdo it.
    Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the cold.
  4. Shovel snow safely.
    • Do not shovel after eating or while smoking.
    • Take it slow and stretch before you begin.
    • Shovel only fresh, powdery snow; it’s lighter.
    • Push the snow rather than lift it.
    • If you do lift it, use a small shovel or fill the shovel only partially.
    • Lift with your legs, not your back.
    • Do not work to the point of exhaustion.
    • If you experience any signs of a heart attack, stop immediately and call 911. Remember, every minute counts.
  5. Avoid slips, trips and falls.
    • Keep your steps and walkways as free of ice as possible by using rock salt, sand or a chemical de-icing compound.
    • Stay off the ice. If a sidewalk is icy, walk on the snow beside the walkway. The snow can provide traction.
    • Wear proper shoes or boots. You can always change your shoes when you enter the building.

Prepare Your Home for the Cold

  1. Heat your home safely.
    If you plan to use a wood stove, fireplace, or
    space heater, be extremely careful and follow
    the manufacturer’s instructions. Get your heating
    system serviced by a qualified technician every year.
    • Space heaters
      • Use only electric space heaters that have an automatic shut-off switch and non-glowing elements. Keep them away from flammable materials, including curtains and blankets.
      • Never cover your space heater.
      • Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.
      • Never leave children unattended near a space heater.
      • Make sure that the cord of an electric space heater is not a tripping hazard, but do not run the cord under carpets or rugs.
      • Avoid using extension cords to plug in your space heater.
      • If your space heater has a damaged electrical cord or produces sparks, do not use it.
  2. Install carbon monoxide detectors.
    • Make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors in your home and that the detectors are working properly.
    • Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.
  3. Prevent frozen water pipes.
    When very cold or freezing temperatures are expected:
    • Leave all water taps open slightly so the water drips continuously.
    • Allow heated air to reach pipes by opening open cabinet doors under the kitchen and bathroom sinks.

    If your pipes do freeze, thaw the pipes slowly with warm air from an electric hair dryer. Do not use anything with an open flame.

  4. Prepare for a power outage.
    • Have extra blankets, sleeping bags, and warm winter coats on hand.
    • Use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns, instead of candles. If you use candles, never leave lit candles unattended.
    • Make sure your fireplace is up to code before starting a fire and that you have plenty of dry firewood.
    • Never using generators, gas or charcoal grills, camp stoves, or similar devices inside your home, in basements, in garages, or near windows. The fumes are deadly.
    • If you have a generator, it should be located outside at least 20 feet from any window, door, or vent and in a space where rain and snow will not reach them.

Get Your Car Ready for Winter Driving

  1. Winterize your car.
    • Test your battery. Battery power drops as the
      temperature drops.
    • Make sure the cooling system is in good working order.
    • Have winter tires with a deeper, more flexible tread put on your car.
    • If using all-season tires, check the tread on your tires and replace if less than 2/32 of an inch.
    • Check the tire pressure; tire pressure drops as the temperature drops.
    • Check your wiper blades and replace if needed.
    • Add wiper fluid rated for -30 degrees.
    • Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze.
  2. AAA driving tips to avoid an accident.
    • Don’t use cruise control.
    • Steer in the direction of a skid, so when your wheels regain traction, you don’t have to overcorrect to stay in your lane.
    • Accelerate and decelerate slowly.
    • Increase following distance behind other cars to 8 to 10 seconds or more.
    • If possible, don’t stop when driving uphill.

    If visibility is severely limited due to a whiteout, pull off the road to a safe place and do not drive until conditions improve. Avoid pulling off onto the shoulder unless it is an absolute emergency. Limited visibility means other vehicles can’t see yours on the shoulder.