Your winter checklist: Prepare for safety in cold weather

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The CDC recommends that everyone keep certain items, such as gloves, a shovel and warm clothing, in their vehicles in the event of an emergency during winter weather months.

Winter is coming. This means freezing temperatures, snow, black ice and lots of slipping and sliding are on the way.

Though winter weather can look beautiful and peaceful, it can also be very dangerous if you are not prepared. LMH Health wants to make sure that you are being safe on the roads and on foot this winter.

Aynsley Anderson Sosinski, community outreach and engagement specialist at LMH Health, says that the No. 1 rule for being out in frigid temperatures is to not go out unless it is absolutely necessary.

“In inclement weather, there is no reason to be out grocery shopping, walking or getting the mail,” she said. “Try your best to plan ahead. If it is a necessity, make sure that your paths are clear from ice and snow, have ice melt or sand on hand and make sure to use smaller steps to have better balance.”

Make sure that you have on sturdy and warm winter shoes if you are out in snowy conditions. Plan ahead to ensure your walking or driving route has been cleared and have hiking/walking poles or an ice tip on your cane for support, if necessary.

At the grocery store, park near the cart corral and grab a cart to bring in with you for extra balance. Try not to carry a bag over your arms. If you have a bag or purse, try carrying a backpack because even a small bag can throw off your balance and cause a fall on slippery surfaces.

“For those who love exercise outdoors, try to find an indoor alternative,” Anderson Sosinski said. “There are many indoor walking loops in Lawrence and also at home workouts that can be found online such as ‘Do Yoga With Me’ and many more.”

If you insist on exercising outside, make sure you have reflective gear and layers of lighter clothing. Always carry a cell phone and have a running buddy with you.

“For those times where it is necessary for you to drive in inclement weather, make sure your car is always winter ready,” Anderson Sosinski said. “Make sure your car is well maintained, you have good tires and your gas tank is full. Keep a safe distance between the cars in front of you while driving because it takes much longer to stop in icy weather. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.”

It’s also important that you dress appropriately for colder temperatures. Bundle up as much as you can and wear many layers. It is much easier to be too hot and take layers off than be too cold with no way to add warmth.

“Cold weather can happen very quickly,” Anderson Sosinski said. “Do not go outside unless you absolutely have a hat, gloves, good footwear and a coat. Please, no flip-flops in the winter.”

Kenna Young, trauma coordinator at LMH Health, said the number of accidents always heightens in the winter.

“We see a lot of fractures, head injuries, hypothermia, lacerations from falls and ice and bad stress on the body from shoveling,” she said. “Frostbite can happen too when you’re not wearing proper clothing.”

Young said that children and the elderly are more sensitive to the cold so it is important, for everyone but especially these generations, to dress warmly even when inside.

“Dress in proper clothing when indoors as well,” Young said. If you choose to use a space heater, to prevent further safety issues, make sure your space heaters are carefully watched to prevent fires. Make sure children, pets and flammable objects like curtains are not near the heater and that they are only used with proper ventilation.”

Limited assistance through Safe Winter Walkways is available for Lawrence residents. If you have a disability or cannot shovel your driveway or sidewalk, contact the city of Lawrence and for assistance to help keep you safe in inclement conditions. Try to take it easy this winter and when the weather is bad, enjoy some time inside and stay warm.

“Be cognizant of the weather this season,” Young said. “Always have a backup plan, minimize travel, and in extreme cold, stay inside.”

What you should have in your car emergency kit

During the winter months, you should avoid driving during inclement weather. If driving is a must, it is important to be prepared in case trouble arises. The CDC recommends that you carry the following items in your car at all times during these cold and snowy months:

• Cell phone, portable charger and extra batteries

• Items to stay warm such as extra hats, coats, mittens and blankets

• Windshield scraper

• Shovel

• Battery-powered radio with extra batteries

• Flashlight with extra batteries

• Water and snack food

• First aid kit with any necessary medications and a pocket knife

• Tow chains or rope

• Tire chains

• Canned compressed air with sealant for emergency tire repair

• Cat litter or sand to help tires get traction, or road salt to melt ice

• Booster cables with fully charged battery or jumper cables

• Hazard or other reflectors

• Bright colored flag or help signs, emergency distress flag and/or emergency flares

• Road maps

• Waterproof matches and a can to melt snow for water

— Jessica Brewer is the social media and digital communications specialist at LMH Health, which is a major sponsor of the Lawrence Journal-World’s Health section.


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