Being safe during winter is about preparation and good judgement. The holiday season is a time for family and friends to gather. It is a time for reflection and appreciation for everyone and everything in our lives, but it is also a challenging and busy time of the year. With so much to do and think about, it’s easy to forget about safety. Being mindful of holiday hazards keeps you with your family this holiday season. Aldridge strives to maintain this mindset 24/7, at home or at work, day or night.
Here are a few tips for staying safe this winter season:
On the road:
Clear off snow and ice before driving. If snow has fallen since your car was parked, take the time to thoroughly brush off the vehicle, including the roof, and scrape any ice from the windows. “Peephole driving” through a small, cleared spot on your windshield is dangerous.
Two hands on the wheel means having complete control of your vehicle at all times.
No phone usage! Distracted driving in winter conditions= DISASTER.
Allow longer braking distances. Plan on starting your braking sooner than you normally would to give yourself extra room, and use gentle pressure on the brake pedal. Heavier vehicle=longer stopping distance. Avoid quick movements in front of semi-trucks or larger vehicles.
Don’t let four-wheel or all-wheel drive give you a false sense of security. 4WD and AWD systems only provide extra traction when accelerating. They provide no advantage when braking or cornering.
Be extra wary of other motorists. They may not be driving as cautiously as you, so leave extra space, avoid distractions, be predictable, and signal clearly ahead of any turns or lane changes.
Leave yourself an out. Do not get boxed in on highways. Always leave yourself an escape route in anticipation of a potential multiple vehicle accident in front of you.
“Winterize” your vehicle prior to the first snowfall. Bring it to a certified mechanic and get an all-around tune up. Bad hoses, belts, water pumps, and even spark plugs can leave you on the side of the road.
Check your tire tread, brakes, battery, cooling system, fluid levels, and other critical systems every two weeks-regardless of weather.
Don’t try to out-drive the conditions. Posted speed limits are for clear, dry conditions. If you hit black ice or find yourself in a skid, calmly ease off the gas and steer in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go.
Consider adding roadside assistance to your insurance policy. In many cases it is relatively inexpensive.
Stay prepared. Stock your vehicle with emergency items.
Make sure you are using UL certified decorations and electrical equipment .
Check all electrical decorations and lights for any shorts or frays, and unplug them before bed.
Never overload your electrical outlets, sockets, or extension cords.
Make sure your chimney is properly cleaned and maintained.
Make fire extinguishers readily available and ensure they are properly maintained.
NEVER add water to a grease fire. Smothering, using baking soda on, or suffocating the fire with another pan works.
Keep your tree properly watered and away from outlets. When buying a Christmas tree, the needles should bend and not break.
Deep fry your turkey outside. Hot oil can spit when frozen food is added, and oil that is too hot can catch fire.
Replace old air filters to reduce dust and other pollutants.
Avoiding slips, trips and falls:
Wear boots or overshoes with grip soles such as rubber or neoprene composite. Depending on the ground conditions, ice cleats or other traction aids may be utilized to decrease the risk of slipping.
When getting out of your vehicle, look down at the surface. If it’s coated with ice consider parking in a different place.
Use special care when entering or exiting vehicles. Use the vehicle for support. Before standing, brace yourself with the vehicle door and seat back, this will give you some stability.
Step, don’t jump, from taller vehicles and equipment.
Don’t walk with your hands in your pockets. This reduces the ability to use your arms for balance if you do slip.
Take short shuffling steps in very icy areas.
Don’t carry or swing heavy loads; this may cause you to lose your balance when you are walking.
On the job site:
Wear the proper clothing. Wear multiple layers of wool, cotton, or synthetic closest to your body and an outer wind and rain protection layer to stay dry. Also have an extra set of clothing available in case your clothes become wet.
Drink plenty of fluids. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of warm fluids and avoid nicotine and caffeine.
Utilize a warm-up schedule. Take periodic breaks to keep your body at a comfortable temperature.
Shield work areas. Windy conditions can lower the temperature. Set-up barriers or heat stations near work areas.
Use the buddy system to monitor behavior. Work in pairs to monitor one another and obtain help quickly during an emergency.
Wear appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). Select protective equipment that is appropriate for the weather as well as the task. Gloves should be insulated but provide needed dexterity and movement. Footwear should have adequate tread and provide slip-resistance in slick conditions.
Being cold can impair judgement and reduce coordination. Stay warm and stay alert. If you see someone stumbling or disoriented help them to a warm location for assessment.
Each area of the country and situation presents its own potential safety risks, but remaining aware and helping to alert others around you will help keep everyone involved safe and enjoying the festivities that the season brings. We wish everyone a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season!