According to the CDC, winter cold kills twice as many people as summer heat in the US. Many of these deaths are preventable, which is why we are offering this winter weather safety advice.
Before traveling in winter weather, plan for the weather by checking your route and your car. Remember, even if you just got back from a trip, check your car again; it only take a moment for something to go wrong. Ask yourself:
- Are there any weather advisories or traffic incidents along my route?
- Do I have more than enough fuel in my car in the event of a traffic jam or detour?
- Are there any recalls on my vehicle?
- Are the brakes and lights on my vehicle working properly?
- Are the fluid levels, tire treads and tire pressures normal for my vehicle?
Many people don’t realize that you shouldn’t leave your children or pets in the car alone in the winter time. Not only do they risk carbon monoxide poisoning if the car is running a long time with the windows shut, but extremely cold temperatures can also cause hypothermia quickly, especially for children and elderly persons.
Another smart way to prepare for winter weather is to pack your car with an emergency kit. Things to include may depend on the time of year, number of passengers and location. However, you should try to include:
- Food, water and medicines passengers may need during the next 24-48 hours
- Jumper cables, flashlights (and batteries), emergency cones/markers and flares
- Blankets (emergency thermal blankets in particular)
- Kitty litter (helps get your car out of the snow, ice or mud, if the tires get stuck and spin)
- Cellphone charger or quick charger
- Snow shovel, broom, ice scraper and de-icer for frozen locks and windshield wipers
Finally, remember to check in regularly with your doctor during the winter. Cold weather can exacerbate existing medical conditions, including ones you may not realize you have.