Recap of Winter Hazard Awareness Week

As another Minnesota winter approaches, take these safety tips into consideration to keep you and your family safe

Last week, our Criminal Justice Program Chair Joe Vanasse sent a series of emails regarding winter hazard awareness. As we get closer to the holidays, we also get closer to snow, ice and all that comes along with Minnesota winter. Here are some helpful tips to remember as winter rolls around:

1) Winter weather advisories: what do they mean?

•OUTLOOK: Winter storm conditions are possible in the next 2-5 days. Stay tuned to local media for updates.

•WATCH: Winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36-48 hours. Prepare now!

•WARNING: Severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours. Act now!

•ADVISORY: Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. If you are cautious, these situations should not be life threatening. Electronic equipment available to receive weather information/NOAA (Weather Radio, Radio, TV, Pager, Cell Phone, Two-Way Radio)

2) Outdoor winter safety:

A very common (and very easily avoidable) injury during the winter months is frostbite. An extra layer might be cumbersome, but if it saves a body part from literally freezing off, I think it is worth it. Take the time to dress in layers and remember your high heat areas. If you are keeping your head, ears, hands, wrists and feet warm, your core doesn’t have to work as hard to heat your whole body and is then more efficient. If you aren’t careful and actively keeping warm, your body could become hypothermic – at which point death is a scary possibility. Bundle up and dress for the season!

Another injury that is maybe less common because of the advent of snow-blowers is the back injury caused by shoveling. Sadly, the cliché “lift with your legs” is falling out of circulation and in turn people are headed to the hospital with anything from back strain to disk herniation. A good rule of thumb is…”lift with your legs” and try not to twist your body while throwing the snow.

3) Winter fire safety:

• Be attentive and careful with your holiday candles; do not leave them lit at night

• Be mindful of your electrical outlets if they are absorbing an increased load due to holiday lights and decorations

• If you put up a Christmas tree, take extra care to turn off the lights while you are not home and/or at home sleeping

• When preparing holiday meals, be extra careful to ensure that your oven and stovetop burners are turned off

4) Indoor winter safety:

When you hear the words carbon monoxide poisoning, how many of you think about checking to make sure your smoke/carbon monoxide detectors have good batteries? If you are anything like me, you hear a random beeping noise about 18 months after you last heard that noise and replace the battery in your smoke detector, when in fact you should be replacing the battery every year. How many of you even know if you have carbon monoxide detectors in your house? These detectors could save your life! Common appliances that might leak carbon monoxide are your typical heaters/gas fireplaces, and during the winter months, we tend to keep our windows closed which could be even more of a danger if there is carbon monoxide present. That is why it is so important to have carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer and is exceptionally dangerous. Take a minute this winter season to make sure you and your family stay protected and change your smoke/carbon monoxide detector batteries. Make it a holiday tradition so that you can have many more holidays to celebrate.

We wish everyone a happy holiday season and hope that you take these tips into consideration this winter.