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Winter Safety Tips

Winter Safety Tips

It’s the beginning of a New Year and a new season of unexpected weather. Will we get a blizzard or unexpected warm fronts? Winter is a beautiful time that is some peoples’ favorite of the four seasons. Yet its unpredictable nature brings unique challenges. From icy roads to seasonal illnesses, winter can pose risks to our health and safety.

With the first full month of winter arriving, it’s essential to take the time to review the specific hazards of winter, and prepare yourself and your family for staying healthy this season. Here are some key winter safety tips that can provide your family with health and security this season.

Safety From Snow and Frigid Temperatures

Layering Clothes

When venturing outdoors, dress in layers to protect against the cold. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer; add an insulating middle layer; and finish with a waterproof outer layer. Don't forget hats, gloves and scarves! It’s a good idea to pack extra clothes if you are going to be away from home for an extended period. Have extra socks, gloves and underwear in case they get snow-covered and end up very wet.

Don’t forget about hand warmers and toe warmers as well!

Prepare Your Vehicle

Pack a winter emergency kit in your car to be prepared for anything. The kit should include items such as a portable phone charger, blankets and extra warm clothing, water, flares, flashlights and a first aid kit. In case you get stranded, these items can help you stay safe.

Road Safety

Icy roads can be dangerous. Always check the weather before traveling. If the National Weather Service has alerts or advisories in your area, don’t travel unless it is absolutely necessary.

If you are traveling, let a friend or family member know where you are going and what route you are taking. You even can share your location with a loved one from your smartphone. Drive slowly, leave plenty of space between vehicles, and know how to brake safely on slick surfaces.

Shoveling Safety

Shoveling snow can lead to back injuries or heart strain, so don’t overwork yourself.

Use an ergonomic shovel, lift with your legs (not your back) and take frequent breaks. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, consider hiring someone to do the job for you.

Consider snow blowers for large snowfalls. It is more expensive, but it will save time and your back.

Before an expected snowstorm, put salt on your walkway and driveway to prevent ice buildup. You also can throw sand and cat litter on icy patches to avoid slips and falls.

Avoiding Frostbite and Hypothermia

Frostbite and hypothermia can occur when you're exposed to cold temperatures for an extended period. Dress warmly, cover all exposed skin, and seek shelter if you feel numbness or uncontrollable shivering.

If you or someone you love is suffering from frostbite or hypothermia, move them to a warm place and contact 911. Remove any wet clothing and monitor breathing. Wrap them in blankets or dry clothing. Warm the core first. Your extremities, hands and legs are able to warm themselves quicker.

Winter Sports Safety

Skiing, snowboarding and ice skating can be fun winter activities, but they also carry risks. Always wear appropriate safety equipment, including helmets, and ensure that children are supervised at all times. When possible, do not venture on the slopes or outdoors alone. Have a buddy to enjoy the winter activities and sports together.

Keep Your Home Safe

It’s important to keep yourself healthy indoors as well. Here are some things to consider when preparing for the winter.

Home Heating Safety

Heating equipment is a leading cause of home-fire deaths. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, and never use your oven to heat your home.

If you have a chimney/fireplace, clean those regularly. Additionally, you can winterproof your home by insulating windows, waterlines and your roof.

Fire Safety

Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, and test them monthly. Have a fire-escape plan, and make sure everyone in your household knows it.

Carbon Monoxide Safety

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that can be deadly. Ensure you have a CO detector installed in your home, and replace the batteries twice a year.

Be Prepared for the Unexpected

As with having a survival kit in your car for emergencies while traveling, you should prepare for unexpected emergencies at home. Have a stock of nonperishable food, clean water and emergency supplies such as a first aid kit and portable phone chargers.

Personal Health

No matter the season, your personal wellness is vital. Winter weather and illnesses, can make staying healthy a challenge. Here are some things to consider.

Preventive Care

Preventive care is the first line of defense against winter illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu activity often peaks between December and February. Get vaccinated early, and practice good hygiene habits, such as frequent handwashing.


Eating a balanced diet is crucial for maintaining a strong immune system. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains in your meals. Staying hydrated is equally important, especially in dry winter weather.

RELATED: Common Nutrient Deficiencies

Mental Health

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects many people during the winter months. If you're feeling persistently down, fatigued or uninterested in things you usually enjoy, reach out to a healthcare provider.

Staying Active

Regular exercise boosts your immune system and mood and can prevent bone loss. Whether it's indoor workouts or outdoor winter sports, aim for at least 30 minutes of activity most days.

Wash Your Hands

Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap. Carry hand sanitizer when traveling for extra care.

Primary and Specialty Care in Northeast Ohio

Winter is a time for joy and warmth, but it’s important to stay informed about potential hazards and how to prevent them. At Southwest General Health Center, we offer primary and specialty care services to prepare you for the winter and help you when emergencies do occur. Don’t hesitate to reach out so you can enjoy the season! To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment, visit us at