Don't Be a Should Have, Be an I Did

January 31, 2017

For the avid winter sportsman, snow is probably a welcome and exciting event.  However, for the rest of us, snow is an inconvenience and a nuisance! Since there will undoubtedly be winter snow storms before spring arrives, it is important to be prepared for bad weather, especially if you have a condition that requires special medications or assistance. Don’t wait until the next prediction of a snowstorm to begin preparations.  Start today! 

  • If there is a medication that you must take daily, be sure that you always have several days worth during the winter months. 
  • Prepare for power outages.  Keep on hand a supply of candles, matches, a battery-powered radio, and a flashlight, both with fresh batteries, and an extra supply of food that doesn’t need cooking.  Milk now comes in a box and can be stored in your pantry.  Make a “storm box” (with batteries, food, candles, matches, etc.)  and store it away from general household use. 
  • Make a winter emergency kit for your car.  Include a small snow shovel, flashlight, flares, sand, or kitty litter, blanket, jumper cables, and a first aid kit.  Some non-perishable food would also be wise. 
  • Keep your car in good working condition.  Bald tires aren’t going to help you much in the snow.  Be sure gas tank has enough fuel.  A properly working heating and defrosting system is very important.  Keep an ice scraper in the car. 
  • Use common sense when snow shoveling.  Shoveling places a great strain on the heart, and if you are not used to exercising, you can have a heart attack, regardless of your age.  (This really does happen every winter.)  If you know you can’t shovel snow or ice, make arrangements now to have someone help you.  Call your church or your community services to arrange for help.    
  • Listen to forecast reports so you can be prepared.  If snow is predicted, be sure you have boots, gloves, and a hat in case you get stranded or have to walk a distance. 
  • If bad weather is predicted (or happening!), don’t go anywhere unless it is really a necessity.  Stay where you are until the roads are sanded.  If you are caught out on slippery roads, drive slowly.  You cannot travel at the same speeds as you can when roads are dry.  Remember, if you start to skid, keep your foot off the gas and the brake.  Steer into the direction of the skid.  If you have antilock brakes, learn how to use them on ice.  They work differently than regular brakes. 
  • Walk defensively on ice.  Choose proper footwear that is warm and provides traction.  Assume black surfaces may have ice if the weather has been cold and wet. Avoid over-exhaustion; a simple walk in deep snow can be taxing.
  • If you know an elderly or homebound person, make it your responsibility to help them prepare for bad weather.  During a storm, try to make contact with them if you can. 
  • During a storm, make a cup of hot chocolate and curl up with a good book!   

There are lots of resources on the internet that discuss winter safety. But reading about safety is not the same as taking action. Don’t be the person who says “I should have…”

Be the person who did! This column is presented by Quinnipiack Valley Health District, serving the towns of Bethany, Hamden, North Haven and Woodbridge. Visit www.qvhd.org, click on the Facebook icon to like us and the Twitter icon to follow us.