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Your Home Environment Resource - University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County

Household Hints & HELP!

Winter Weather Safety

submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
This article appears in the January 16, 2005 Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper.

Winter weather has finally hit Nebraska. Are you prepared? One needs to be ready for the weather we experience. It may be warm, bright and sunny in the morning and by later in the day the rain, sleet or snow may appear. Being adequately prepared is very important. Your home as well as your vehicle must be ready. Winter travel has been treacherous this year.

In your home you should have supplies for at least three days in case you are trapped in your home due to winter weather. Safety is also very important. Dressing properly for working outside and for snow and ice removal. Be sure to have adequate snow and ice removal equipment such as shovels, snow blower, and ice-melt or sand. Snowblower safety is very important. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports two-thirds of snowblower injuries involve fingers, and -- among consumer products – snowblower misuse is a leading cause of finger amputations. In a 1999 study, 3,546 injuries were found to be snow-blower related accidents. The American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) recommends people take the proper precautions to prevent hand-related injuries while removing snow. They suggest the following:

  • Turn it OFF.
  • NEVER put your hand down the chute or around the blades.
  • Disengage the clutch.
  • Wait five seconds after shutting the machine off to allow impeller blades to stop rotating.
  • ALWAYS use a stick or broom handle to clear impacted snow. Never use your hand.
  • Keep all shields in place. DO NOT REMOVE the safety devices on the machine.
  • Keep hands and feet away from all moving parts.
  • Keep a clear head, concentrate.
  • DO NOT DRINK alcoholic beverages before or while using your snowblower.

Should you cut your finger or hand, apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth. If continuous pressure does not slow or stop the bleeding after 15 minutes, an emergency room visit may be required.

Even with today’s four-wheel drive vehicles and cell phone technology travel may seen easier and families can be put in dangerous situations during the winter. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) suggests every vehicle have winter travel kit. The kit should contain:

  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Water
  • Snack food (candy bars, raisins, dried fruit, granola bars)
  • Mittens/gloves/hat/scarf
  • Blanket/sleeping bag
  • Tow chain or rope
  • Tire chains
  • Bag of road salt and sand
  • Fluorescent distress flag
  • Jumper/booster cables
  • Road maps
  • Emergency flares
  • Cellular telephone or two-way radio, if available

Are you prepared? If not, take time to put together a travel kit. Make sure your home is ready for winter and take extra safety precautions when working outside or during snow removal.

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