With cold weather in full swing, there are certain safety precautions we should all take to avoid injuries and accidents that tend to happen this time of year. It’s best to avoid going outside in icy conditions, however, if you do need to travel when winter weather hits, it’s important to make sure your car is in good working order. Before you leave, have your vehicle serviced and make sure the lights, brakes, tires and windshield wipers are all working properly. Drive slower than you normally would and increase your following distance between the car in front of you. Be cautious as you drive since it’s easier to lose control of your vehicle in icy or snowy conditions. Make sure any car seats or booster seats your children need are properly installed and remove any outer coat before buckling a child in. Thick coats can interfere with the way the harness fits on a child but can be placed over the child like a blanket after they’ve been buckled.
Whether at home or on the road, it helps to have an emergency kit on hand with the things you might need. These kits should include items such as:
- A three-day supply of non-perishable food and water
- A three-day supply of all medicines, at a minimum
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- A first aid kit
- Personal care items (toothbrush, soap, baby wipes)
- A fully charged cell phone and charger
- Radio, for updates on the situation
- Snow shovel, broom and ice scraper
- Sand or kitty litter, in case your car is stuck or you need to help with traction
- Jumper cables
If you get stuck while on the road, stay with your car. Make sure your exhaust pipes are clear of snow before leaving your car on for long periods of time to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
At home, be sure to salt your walkways and driveways ahead of time if the forecast is calling for bad weather. When walking outside in icy conditions, use handrails and be mindful of your stance—keep a wide gait to help with balance. If you do need to walk around outside, you can use ice and snowshoe gripper sole covers or winter shoes with a rubber sole that will help you maintain traction. For individuals that use a cane, there are ice gripper cane tips available for purchase online. You can also carry a baggie of kitty litter or sand around to spread on slick patches before you try to walk across them.
Leigha Jordan is the injury prevention coordinator for the trauma department at Cone Health. She also manages the activities of Safe Guilford, the injury prevention coalition for Guilford County, and provides outreach and education on child passenger, bike and pedestrian safety, and fall prevention for older adults. Leigha received a Master of Science in Health Promotion from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2001.