Environmental Services Program
Winter Safety and Health Tips
The time to get ready for winter is before the first flakes fall. Here are some tips to help you through any icy patches:
Do you know how to survive if a blizzard traps you in your car?
- Stay in your car. Do not walk around in the snow looking for assistance.
- Occasionally check the vehicle's tailpipe to ensure it's free of snow to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Keep up your circulation with some minor exercise.
- During the day place an orange or red flag on your antenna. During the night leave your dome light on (only when vehicle is running). Open the hood as a distress signal when snow stops falling.
- If you are alone do not sleep with the engine running.
- Winter Car Survival Kit: Weather Channel™ meteorologist Julie Martin shows five items you may not know you need in your vehicle in case you get stuck in a snowstorm.
- Your vehicle emergency supplies kit can help you until assistance arrives.
As the weather cools off and the deer start moving here are few safety reminders (courtesy of the New York Department of Transportation):
- Use caution when driving at dawn or dusk and scan roads and roadsides ahead.
- Reduce your speed at night and use high beams when possible.
- Be sure all vehicle occupants wear seat belts and children are properly restrained in child safety seats.
- Slow down when approaching deer standing near the roadside, as they may suddenly bolt into the road.
- Deer often travel in pairs or groups, so if deer are spotted crossing the road, slow down and be alert that others may follow.
- Be especially alert and use caution when traveling through frequent deer crossing areas, which are usually marked with “leaping stag.”
- Do not rely on devices, such as deer whistles, extra lights or reflectors, to deter deer. Research has shown that your best defense is your own responsible behavior.
- Motorcyclists should be especially alert for deer as motorcycle-deer collisions have a higher fatality rate.
- If a deer does run in front of your vehicle, brake firmly but do not swerve. Swerving can cause a vehicle-vehicle collision or cause the vehicle to strike a pedestrian or potentially deadly fixed object, such as a tree or utility pole.
- Keep your tree at least three feet from fireplaces, heat vents, radiators, candles and other sources of heat.
- Trees should not block exits.
- Before using light sets, check for frayed or damaged wiring.
- Turn off holiday lights before going to bed or leaving home.
- Do not connect more than three mini light sets.
Add water to live tree stands daily. This National Fire Protection video demonstrates how quickly a dry tree burns compared to one that is watered daily.
- Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic.
- Allow faucets to drip a little so pipes will not freeze.
- Cover windows with plastic to keep cold air out.
Indoor space heaters add warmth but can be a dangerous fire hazard. When buying a space heater find one that has an automatic shut-off in the event it is tipped over. Make sure heater is on a level surface away from high-traffic and items that are flammable such as curtains, bedding or furniture.
Plan ahead for potential dangerous winter travel issues.
Vehicle emergency kits should include:
- booster cables
- windshield scraper
- small broom
- emergency flares
- fluorescent distress flag
- tow chain or rope
- battery powered radio
- extra batteries
- snack food
- extra hats, mittens, gloves and socks
- first aid kit with pocket knife
- road salt and sand
Check (or have a mechanic check) these items on your vehicle:
- Brakes - Check both for wear and fluid levels.
- Antifreeze levels - Levels should be sufficient to avoid freezing.
- Battery and ignition system - Battery terminals should be clean.
- Exhaust system - Check for crimped pipes and leaks.
- Air and fuel filters - Replace when necessary. Keep water out of fuel system by using additives. A full tank of gas will keep fuel line from freezing.
- Defroster, heater and thermostat - Should work properly.
- Windshield wipers and fluid - Use the type of washer fluid that does not freeze easily.
- Lights and flashing emergency lights - Should work properly.
- Oil - Use correct level and weight for winter. Heavy oils congeal at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
- Tires - All-weather radials with adequate tread usually work for most winter conditions however sometimes vehicles must have chains or snow tires with studs.
Winter weather safety information - National Weather Service information includes wind chill, frostbite and hypothermia; winter driving and winter driving techniques; outdoor activities; winter fires, carbon monoxide and home safety; and school safety.
Burn Season - Information on burn season and opening burning, including links to fact sheets.