Winter Safety Tips

 

Some of the most important tips for safe winter driving include:

  • Never follow a snowplow too closely or attempt to pass one. Remember that the highway ahead of the plow is usually snow-covered;
  • Adjust speed for road conditions and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles;
  • Schedule extra time for winter travel and be patient during ice and snow removal operations;
  • Assume that bridge surfaces are slippery, as they freeze more quickly than road surfaces;
  • Be wary of black ice, which can be difficult to see but makes conditions slippery when pavement temperatures are below freezing;
  • Have a cell phone handy, if possible, but do not text while driving; distracted driving is illegal and becomes even more dangerous during storm events;
  • Never venture from your vehicle if snowbound;
  • Equip your car with emergency supplies including sand, shovel, flares, booster cables, rope, ice scraper, portable radio, flashlight, blankets and extra warm clothes;
  • Inform a responsible person of your destination, intended route, and estimated time of arrival; and
  • Keep calm and do not panic in case of a vehicle breakdown, accident, or if you become snowbound.

Motorists should also include the following emergency items in their vehicles:

  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Charged cell phone and automobile charger
  • Basic first-aid kit
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Extra clothes, including rain gear, boots, mittens, and socks
  • Windshield scraper and brush
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Shovel
  • Sand, road salt and/or cat litter for traction
  • Tire chains or traction mats
  • Basic tool kit, including pliers, wrench, and screwdriver
  • Tow rope
  • Battery jumper cables
  • Road flares/reflectors
  • Brightly colored cloth (to use as a flag)
  • Road maps

Heavy exertion, such as shoveling snow, clearing debris, or pushing a car, can increase the risk of a heart attack. To avoid problems:

  • Stay warm, dress warm and SLOW DOWN when working outdoors. 
  • Take frequent rests to avoid over exertion. 
  • If you feel chest pain, shortness of breath, or pain in the jaw or radiating down the arm --STOP and seek help immediately.

If You Lose Power:

  • First, call your utility to determine area repair schedules.
  • Turn off or unplug lights and appliances to prevent a circuit overload when service is restored. Leave one light on to indicate when power has been restored.
  • If heat goes out during a winter storm, keep warm by closing off rooms you do not need.

Other Home Safety Tips:

  • When removing snow and ice from driveways and sidewalks, stay clear of electric and natural gas meters to avoid damaging them, inadvertently disrupting service or putting yourself in danger. Snow and ice can damage electric and natural gas meters, natural gas pipes and natural gas regulators, so never bury any of this equipment when shoveling, using a snowblower or plowing. 
  • When removing snow or ice from a roof, never let it fall on electric or natural gas meters or related equipment.
  • Natural gas appliance chimneys and vents should be kept free of snow and ice to prevent the build-up of potentially-deadly carbon monoxide. 
  • Be prepared if you smell natural gas. If you smell that distinctive sulfur-like odor – like the smell of rotten eggs – get up, get out and call your utility immediately from a cell phone or neighbor’s phone.

For more winter safety tips, visit the NYS Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services at http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info/publicsafety/winter.cfm.