Winter can take a toll on our homes, cars, and bodies which is why it’s very important to be prepared. The cold weather can be dangerous due to icy sidewalks, frostbite, hypothermia, and other injuries. Below are 5 tips to help keep you safe and sound this winter.


1. Winterize Your Home

Determine if there are any home maintenance issues that need to be fixed. Inspect the outside of your home for damaged or frayed wires in order to avoid any electrical problems, which can mean no heat! Get those gutters cleaned out before the snow falls to prevent water and ice buildup that will eventually make its way into your home. Ensure you have proper ventilation. Clean exhaust fans and filters to help maintain your indoor air quality. Place smoke detectors and battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors in areas where you use fireplaces, wood stoves and heaters. House fires and burns are two of the least known dangers of winter.


2. Stock Up Your Pantry and Medicine Cabinet

To avoid traveling during an unexpected winter storm, keep your pantry and medicine cabinet full of all the essentials. Double-check that you have flashlights, extra batteries, a back-up energy source, a first aid kit, and extra toilet paper and paper towels. Fill your pantry with shelf-stable foods and drinks such as:

  • Bottled water (one gallon per person per day, for at least three days)
  • Canned goods such as soups and stews
  • Cereal, granola, energy bars
  • Anything jarred, such as jellies, pickles, and meats
  • Peanut butter
  • Dried pasta and jarred sauce
  • Dried fruit, nuts, jerky
  • Shelf-stable juice
  • Coffee, tea and hot cocoa mix


3. Dress in Layers

Wear dry, loose-fitting layers to best hold your body heat. Cover exposed skin like your face and hands. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs. If your skin turns red or dark, go inside right away as this might be a sign of frostbite. Hypothermia can also occur when our body temperature gets below 95 degrees. Dressing in layers will help keep you warm and reduce heat loss. Dress your children warm and set time limits on outdoor play. Our furry friends are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia too and should be kept inside during severe cold. Learn more about hypothermia’s symptoms and treatments.


4. Prevent Falls

We all know how icy our sidewalks can get during freezing winter temperatures. Aside from making sure your sidewalks are shoveled, wear sturdy shoes and walk at a slow pace to prevent falls when walking outside. Check to see if the surface is slippery before getting out of the car. Give yourself plenty of time to run errands. Being in a rush can increase your chances of falling. You can learn more about avoiding falls in the winter from Mayo Clinic. If you have COPD, we have some tips on breathing in the cold air.


5. Find a Winter Buddy

It’s important to check up on your family, friends, and neighbors during the cold months, especially the elderly. Find out if they have food, water, heat, and are overall safe inside. Make arrangements with a friend who can check up on you as well and stay in touch throughout the season. Speaking of buddies, let’s not forget pets! Check on your neighborhood pets and make sure they have a warm place to stay.