By Carrie Van Brunt-Wiley
Each season brings its own unique safety concerns for families. In the spring, allergies are rampant and unexpected rain showers can often make driving a challenge. In the fall, we worry about flu season and slipping on leaves in walkways and sidewalks. During the summer, there are heat waves and perilous slip ‘n slide injuries. The winter season often brings the widest variety of safety concerns, from cold weather and slippery road conditions to hazardous holiday decorations. Here are a few tips to help you keep your family safe this winter:
If you work outside, like to play in the snow or otherwise spend a lot of time outside in the cold, cover up. Your extremities are the first to lose circulation in cold weather, so be sure to wear gloves and warm socks. Prevent the majority of your body heat from leaving your through the top of your head with a winter hat, and be sure to wear proper footwear. If you’re working in heavy snow, boots or other shoes with good traction are highly recommended to help prevent falls.
Remove ice and snow from walkways and stairs
Slippery surfaces are one of the leading causes of winter-related injuries. If your driveway, walkways and other surfaces you regularly use are buried under snow and ice, don’t try to walk on them until they’re cleared. Children and older guests are especially vulnerable to falls on slippery surfaces, so it’s extremely important to do some preventive maintenance and shovel your snow before any injuries are likely to occur. Keep in mind that many cities that suffer extreme weather require that you keep your sidewalk and driveway clear.
Injuries can also occur during the process of shoveling snow. It’s always a good idea to warm up before you start in order to avoid overexertion. Stretch your arms, back, legs and shoulders. Don’t be afraid to stop to rest for a couple of minutes if you start to feel tired or sore. Finally, take your time. Use a light-weight shovel and push small amounts to the side instead of trying to throw large amounts out of the way.
Use caution when decorating or undecorating
While holiday decorations help add some cheer to the winter season, they also come with their own set of dangerous hazards. Make sure your Christmas lights are plugged into safe sockets that won’t overload your electrical system. Never leave them plugged in while you’re away for an extended period of time, especially if you’ve got loose pets roaming around the home. If you’ve set up a real Christmas tree, make sure you water it often. A dry tree and hot lights are the perfect combination for a not-so-festive holiday fire.
Supervise children outside
When the first snowfall of the season occurs, everyone wants to run outside to build snowmen and snow angels and pelt each other with snowballs. It’s so exciting that it’s easy for a child to forget to put on a jacket, not to mention a cumbersome hat and gloves. As a parent, it’s your job to make sure your children are properly wrapped up for the winter weather. It’s also a good idea to coax them inside every hour or so with some hot chocolate or warm cookies to prevent them from losing too much body heat. It’s also easy to slip and fall on ice when you’re dodging speeding snowballs, and a snowball to the face has the power to knock the wind out of any poor victim. Keep an eye on your kids any time they’re outside in the snow to make sure they’re playing safely.
Following these tips will help you stay safe around the house. It also will help keep others safe when they visit or walk past your home. Then all you’ll have to worry about is the coming of the next allergy season.
This article was contributed by Carrie Van Brunt-Wiley, Editor of the HomeInsurance.com blog. Carrie has been writing insurance news and consumer information for HomeInsurance.com since 2008. She graduated from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington in 2005 with a B.A. in Professional Writing and Journalism.
Another winter tip that you may not know: children need eye protection from bright snow in the winter as well as sun and water in the summer. Their eyes can be damaged just as easily as an adults’. Sunglasses provide UV protection all year. Pat