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Winter Weather Safety and Security Tips

January 8th, 2020

Winter. Some love it, some hate it. But no matter where your opinion falls on the topic if you live in an area that gets cold and snow….be prepared. Even if you think you live far enough south to avoid winter you never know when the unexpected might hit.

Winter weather impacts us by causing slippering road conditions, stores closing, power outages and just being plain old cold. It’s important to understand the risk associated with the season and how to be prepared.

We cover several topics in the post, we hope you read them all or you can jump to the section you’re interested in reading more about. Here are the topics we will cover…

Be Prepared

There are a few items you want to have stocked up in case of a power outage or severe storm that would prevent you from leaving your home. Maybe your source of heat isn’t working, or you have no water because there is no electricity to your water pump.

Maintenance for Your Home

Before winter even arrives get your home prepared for the season. You should have your heating sources cleaned and inspected to make sure they are in proper working order and working efficiently. Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors as well. Learn more about how to prevent house fires in another home safety blog post.

Items for Your Home

Keeping these items on hand will keep you safe and healthy in your home…

  • Clean drinkable water (about 1 gallon per person per day)

  • Non-perishable food that doesn’t require cooking and keep a manual can opener on hand to open cans

  • Flashlights with extra batteries

  • First aid kit – check to make sure your supplies haven’t expired

  • Cell phone with charger – keep a power bank charged so you can recharge and use it sparingly

  • Snow shovels – keep them somewhere handy, the garage may not be the best place unless it’s attached to your home

  • Salt for melting ice on walkways/driveways

  • Sufficient heating fuel or alternative source of heat – don’t let your oil or propane tank fall below a ¼ tank, usage fluctuates depending on the temperature and if the roads are slick fuel companies may not be able to reach you if you run out

  • If you have a backup generator, make sure it is properly maintained, accessible and that you have enough fuel to operate it

Items for Your Vehicle

You never know where you will be caught in a storm, if you are on the road it’s a good idea to have some resources stashed in your vehicle…

  • Shovel, snow brush and ice scraper so you can uncover your car in the parking lot

  • Water and snacks in case you’re are stuck in a traffic jam or can’t move

  • Blankets and warm clothing including outerwear

  • Road salt or sand in case you need to get off a slick surface

  • Emergency flares

  • Jumper cables or jump box in case your battery doesn’t start

  • Cell phone and car charger (or power bank)

  • Flashlight with extra batteries

  • First aid kit

  • Distress flag

Winter Weather Driving Safety Tips

car driving in snow and person walking on sidewalkThe best thing to do when road conditions are poor is not stay off the roads! If a state of emergency is declared it may even be illegal for you to be on the roads depending on your profession. In some jobs such as nurses or doctors, there may be services or local volunteers with four-wheel drive vehicles to transport you into work if it is critical that you be there.

The first thing you can do is be prepared for the winter. Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained, here is a quick checklist…

Winter Preparation for Your Vehicle

  • Replace windshield wipers and refill your wiper fluid

  • Check your fluid levels including oil, transmission and anti-freeze

  • Check your battery and replace if necessary

  • Look at your tires to make sure they have enough tread or switch to an all-weather or even studded winter tires depending on where you are located

  • Make sure all lights are working including your headlights, high beams, tail lights and brake lights

Safe Driving Tips

Turn on your headlights. Just like in the dark or rain, you should have your headlights turned on….not just the driving lights. This makes you more visible to other drivers on the road.

Stock up your vehicle with emergency supplies. We already covered this above, having these items on hand will keep you safe and comfortable if you are stuck or your vehicle is disabled.

Slow down. Many speed limits are reduced when road conditions are less than perfect so pay attention to road signs especially if you are traveling on the highway. Keeping a consistent speed will help you maintain control over your vehicle. Avoid quickly stepping on the brakes or speeding up, this can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and put yourself or other travelers at risk.

Pull over in a safe place if needed. If you feel anxious about the conditions, find somewhere safe to pull off the road. Avoid pulling over on the shoulder of the highway…only use emergency pull off areas and be sure not to block entrances, gates and other roads for emergency crews, snow plows and other travelers.

If in doubt, don’t go out! If you are an inexperienced driver in inclement weather or you don’t absolutely have to be on the road, the best thing to do is stay where you are. It’s better to be late or miss work than to risk your life or risk causing significant damage to your vehicle.

Dressing Properly for Winter Weather

When you must go outside the comfort of your home in the winter make sure you bundle up! Wearing layers is the best option so if you get too warm from shoveling snow, walking or sledding you can remove excess layers. Your inner layers should be wool or synthetic fibers that will help trap body heat even if they get wet. Material like cotton will make you colder if exposed to moisture or sweat.

Where a hat and gloves. You lose a significant amount of body heat from your head so trap it in! You also want to protect your extremities like fingers and ears because they are the first parts of your body that will get frostbite.

Consider your footwear. Be certain to wear warm, waterproof boots or shoes that will keep your feet from getting wet. You also want footwear that has good traction, so you avoid slipping and falling. If you are walking on ice, you can even use ice cleats or crampons to give you the best traction possible.

Snow Removal Safety Tips

man shoveling snowSnow removal is responsible for many injuries and even deaths each year. Shoveling can be a very strenuous activity that is physically exhausting for almost anyone. Follow these simple tips to prevent injury…

  • Shovel every couple of hours. This will help you keep up with the storm and you will only have to shovel a few inches at a time rather than a few feet if that much snow accumulates. Fresh snow is also a lot lighter than when it has time to become compacted by additional layers or melting.

  • Dress warm. Follow our tips above about how to dress properly in winter.

  • Stretch and stay hydrated. Just like other physical activities you want to stay loose and well hydrated. This will prevent injury and fatigue to your muscles.

  • Be smart! If you experience back pain or shortness of breath, stop! Take a break, drink water and go inside to rest. Keep your cell phone on your when you are outside in case of an emergency like a serious fall or other health event that would prevent you from moving (you could even carry your key fob for your alarm system so you can quickly sound your alarm to call for help).

  • Lift with your legs, not with your back. Lifting heavy shovels filled with snow can cause serious back injury. If you are only removing a few inches of snow at a time you may be able to push the snow to the side rather than lifting it completely.

  • Help elderly neighbors or family members. Or ask for help if you can’t physically handle snow removal on your own. Age, heart conditions and other illnesses can make snow removal dangerous. You may even want to consider hiring a crew to handle your snow removal for you.

  • Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and coffee. These can restrict blood vessels to your extremities making you more prone to frostbite.

  • Drink warm, sweet drinks. These will help you maintain your body temperature and replace electrolytes.

  • Be aware of the warning signs for hypothermia, heart attacks, frostbite and other health conditions. Knowing the early warning signs may help save your life!

Keeping Your Pets Safe

dog in snowDon’t leave your furry friends outside too long in the cold, especially without food and water. If you have any outdoor animals, make sure their water bowls aren’t frozen and provide adequate shelter to protect them from severe weather. Want to read more pet safety tips, read our pet safety article.

Maintaining Your Security Equipment in the Cold

When removing snow from the exterior of your home or business, don’t forget about your security equipment. A build up of snow or those pretty icicles could blog the view of your outdoor security cameras.

If your system needs to be serviced, make sure you have space for the technician to park their vehicle and have entryways cleared of snow and ice. This is good practice in case of any kind of emergency that would require you leave your home quickly or need emergency responders to get to your property. Fire trucks can’t navigate your long unplowed driveway and if snow or ice is blocking doors you might not be able to exit the building fast enough. You also want to make sure all vents are open, snow or ice covering vents could cause a fire.



We hope you took away some helpful tips for staying safe this winter. Consider Select SmartHome is your community source for home safety and security tips! We can protect your home and make your life easier with an alarm system integrated with a wide variety of smart home features like lights, locks and thermostats. While you are relaxing on the couch on your next snow day, give us a call to discuss what we can do for you! Call us now at 844-735-3285.




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