Vital Winter Safety Tips

Zhen Tu , Features Writer

The winters in Minnesota are brutal. Not only are the temperatures extremely cold, but there are also other weather related dangers, such as driving in the snow and walking on ice. To minimize accidents, Minnesotans should be sure to examine the following systems in their cars; brakes, cooling system, electrical system, engine, exhaust system, tires, oil, and visibility systems. In emergency situations, some items that would be helpful to have in the car include a windshield ice scraper, snow brush, flashlight with extra batteries, road maps, blankets, and a change of clothes. To avoid slipping on ice, it is important to wear insulated and water resistant boots. Always keeping a pair of winter boots with solid treads in your vehicle during the winter months is also a good idea.

Many people worry about being stranded in their car during a blizzard or heavy snow storm. In this situation, the United States Department of Labor advises people to stay in their cars instead of going out and looking for assistance. However, if you see something or someone that can help you within one hundred yards of your car, you can get out. If you are in serious trouble, you can raise the hood of the car and attach something bright to its antenna. It is acceptable to turn on the car’s heat for ten minutes every hour. It is also critical that the exhaust pipe does not have any snow in it and that a window is open slightly to let fresh air in. This will prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Shoveling snow and using a snow blower present other risks as well. The National Safety Council has some suggestions to shovel safely; don’t shovel after eating, stretch before you begin, don’t lift the snow, shovel when the snow is light, don’t use your back too much, and stop working when you become tired. If you don’t want to shovel and a snow blower is available, taking advantage of the blower is another possibility. The American Society for Surgery of the Hand and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends that people turn off the blower when it jams, never put their hands close to the moving parts, and never refuel the snow blower when it is still running.                                                                                                                                                                                                       
It is important to stay safe during the winter months as snow storms, ice, and other potentially dangerous conditions arise. Make warmth and safety your priorities throughout the rest of this frigid season.