8 WINTER HOLIDAY SAFETY TIPS

Research has shown that more preventable injuries occur during winter than during any other season. Due mainly to:

Weather conditions we face during the colder months.

And, because we spend more time indoors, winter increases the risk of at-home accidents as well, including fires and falls.

Additionally, there are plenty of festive occasions and gatherings happening during the winter season. These events unfortunately present opportunities for dangerous behavior such as drinking and driving.

With much more risk to our personal safety and the safety of others around us, it’s important be aware and cautious. Here are some great winter safety tips:

1. Get you vehicle inspected

Each year there are, on average, 480,000 injuries caused by weather-related vehicle crashes. Ensure your vehicle is deemed safe enough to drive in winter conditions. This in large part means having the right tires for your local weather conditions.

In many areas, especially elevated regions and mountain passes, it is illegal to drive without proper winter designated tires. In other regions where rain storms are more common, it is important to have tires that can resist hydroplaning. Be sure you know how to handle your vehicle if it does skid so you don’t lose control and put yourself and others at risk.

Another simple but often overlooked vehicle must-do is to ensure you have enough washer fluid. With more salt and dirt accumulating on the roads, it’s important to have a clean windshield for maximum visibility to stay safe during wintery conditions.

2. Plan a Safe Ride Home

There are lots of events and holiday parties during the winter months, and this leaves plenty of opportunities for consuming alcohol. Always plan for your safe ride home before you leave the house. Pre-order a taxi to pick you up at a designated time and place. Encourage others who are attending Christmas parties and work functions to do the same.

3. Hang Holiday Decorations Safely

When bringing out, hanging and putting away holiday decorations, use a ladder or stool in proper working condition to carefully handle boxes and decorations stored at heights. With the holiday lights themselves, be sure to unplug them every night and only leave them on for a couple hours. Unless they are LED lights, bulbs can get very hot and cause items around them to catch fire.

4. Fully Extinguish All Flames

If you have an electric fireplace, be sure to turn it off at night. With traditional fireplaces, it’s important to extinguish a fire completely before going to bed. Don’t leave the house with the fireplace left on or burning, either. Candles lit at night should also be fully extinguished before bedtime.

5. Use Heating Devices Carefully

We love our devices that keep us toasty during cold winter days. But space heaters, electric blankets and heating pads can cause serious house fires if not maintained and used safely. To reduce the risk of house fires, only use these devices before bed, and unplug them before you go to sleep.

6. Install Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors

Unfortunately, the majority of house fires occur in the winter. So taking precautions to install and test your smoke detectors is an important safety measure. The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning also increases with the additional time indoors, so ensure you have a functioning carbon monoxide detector as well.

7. Use Handrails for Stability

The cold and wet weather can leave stairwells very slippery and dangerous. To prevent serious falls which can cause severe injury, be sure to use the handrails and don’t run up the stairs. This is especially important for seniors who may have balance issues and can be seriously injured by falls. You can also set a good example for children by always using the handrails.

8. Salt Driveways and Exterior Staircases

Another way to prevent severe injury from falls is to apply salt to your driveway pavement and any staircases leading to your home. Reapply the salt as often as needed to keep you and your family safe from slips and falls. While most malls and shopping centers take adequate precautions, be careful when walking across parking lots as they may not always be thoroughly salted.

Following these basic safety tips for winter will ensure you and your family can safely and happily enjoy your holiday season and look forward to sunny spring days ahead.

RESOURCE CREDIT: UPMC Pinnacle