Winter Storm Jonas set some records in our area this past weekend, and also caused some pretty hazardous conditions. With major storms like this comes some pretty serious health, and safety issues. We put together some tips to help you and your vehicle stay safe during these weather conditions, and ways to make the cleanup process a lot easier. Because let's face it, sometimes the snow plow just doesn’t cut it.

1.) Driving Safety

Employers cannot control road conditions, and many businesses need their employees to come to work no matter what those road conditions are. If you must drive in these slick conditions there are a few things every driver should know.

Check your fluids! - Make sure your brake fluid, windshield washer fluid, oil, and antifreeze are

filled up.

Check your tires! - Make sure your tires have adequate tread depth and check for proper inflation.

Check your visibility systems! - Inspect all interior and exterior lights, turn signals, front and

rear defrosting systems, and check your windshield wipers.

Check your electrical system! - Check the ignition system and ensure that the battery is fully

charged, and that the alternator belt is in good condition with proper tension.

  • You should also keep an emergency kit in your vehicle. An emergency kit might include:

 

  • Cell phone or a two way radio (Make sure cell phone is fully charged)

  • Windshield Ice Scraper

  • Flashlight with extra batteries

  • Shovel

  • Tow Chain

  • Traction Aids (Bag of sand, bag of cat litter)

  • Ice Melt (bag of road salt)

  • Emergency Flares

  • Jumper Cables

  • Snacks and waters

  • Blankets

  • Change of clothes
  • Flat tire kit/ spare tire

  • If you get stranded in your vehicle you should not panic. Here are a few things you should do if you get stranded in your vehicle due to snowy driving conditions:

 

  • Stay in the vehicle

  • Call your supervisor and inform them of your situation

  • Call for emergency assistance if needed, response time may be slow due to road conditions

  • Display a “trouble sign” on your vehicle: place a colorful shirt or towel on the vehicle's antenna.

  • Turn the car on for 10 minutes every hour and run the heat to keep warm.

  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and ensure that your exhaust is free of snow, and that there is a window slightly cracked open.

  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia, and do small exercises to keep good blood circulation in your body.

  • Stay awake, being awake will reduce your risk of cold-related health problems.

2.) Snow Removal

• Shoveling snow

  • Snow shoveling can wreak havoc to the human body, especially during extremely cold weather. There is potential for exhaustion, heart attacks, back injuries, or dehydration. During this strenuous winter activity, be sure to take multiple breaks in warm areas. Try pushing the snow instead of lifting it, and be sure to scoop small amounts of snow at a time if possible. Keep the back straight, lift with the legs, and do not twist or turn the body. And if you have the energy, take the time to help out a neighbor who might be struggling. Also, try to layer on loose clothing, so you can peel a layer off if you get too hot.

• Powered Equipment - Snowblowers

  • When using powered equipment like snowblowers, be sure to double check to make sure the equipment is properly grounded and properly guarded. Never attempt to clear  a jam in the equipment with your hand. This could cause lacerations or amputations. First, turn the snow blower off and wait until all moving parts come to a stop. Then use a long stick to clear wet snow or debris from the machine. Refuel the snow blower prior to starting the machine, never add fuel when the machine is running. If you have enough fuel, try to help out a neighbor who might be struggling to remove snow themselves.

• Clearing snow from the roof, and other heights

  • Snow covered roofs can bring avalanches of snowfall, or collapsing of the roof or sky lights. Be sure to practice safe tactics when it comes to removal of snow from the roof. Be careful of falling snow, and wear non slip boots if attempting to go on top of the roof. Make sure all vents are not completely covered, or else carbon dioxide could build up and get trapped in the house. Use long brooms, and the proper lifting equipment.

Cold wintery conditions can cause many health and safety issues, but if you prepare for the weather conditions and know what to do when they arrive you might be able to help yourself, as well as help others. More information about winter driving safety can be found at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/safeDriving.html, and more information about snow removal management can be found at http://www.snowandicemgmt.com/snow-and-ice-removal-services. Be safe this winter!