Here are a few quick tips to help keep you safe, whether you're sitting around the fireplace with your family or traveling across town or across the country. From all of us at Columbus Township Fire & Rescue, stay warm and safe out there!
Blizzard and Freezing Temperature Preparedness
Ensure you have plenty of food and water on hand
Keep basic first aid and medical supplies on hand
Have warm clothes, blankets, and an emergency heat source available
If using a space heater, fireplace or wood stove, follow the guidelines below
Avoid traveling if at all possible
If you absolutely must travel, follow the guidelines below
Let a small (pencil-lead thin) stream of water run from your faucet, especially the ones furthest from the source or near an outside wall
Don't over-exert yourself outside, such as when shoveling snow
Check in on senior citizens or disabled friends and family members
Driving in Winter Weather
Maintain your vehicle properly, and ensure fluid levels are adequate - especially antifreeze and and windshield washer fluid
Keep the following in the vehicle: cell phone, flashlight, jumper cables, shovel, ice scraper, boots, gloves, and blankets (NOTE: A deactivated cell phone with no service can still make a 9-1-1 call)
If you get stuck: stay calm, stay with your vehicle, don't overexert yourself, turn on your emergency flashers or other warning devices, run the car just enough to stay warm (ensure the exhaust pipe is clear)
Let someone else know your route and what time you expect to arrive at your destination so they can check in with you
Practice cold-weather driving in a controlled environment - know how your vehicle will respond to braking on ice/snow, remember that stopping distances are longer in slippery conditions, and always steer into a skid (but avoid over-correcting)
Give snow plows plenty of room, and don't pass them
Do not use cruise-control on snowy or icy roads
Don't idle the vehicle for a long period of time with the windows up or in an enclosed space
Always wear your seatbelt, maintain an adequate following distance from the vehicle in front of you, and NEVER drink and drive
Information provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). For more tips on how to prepare for cold-weather driving trips, take a look at the official OSHA publication.
Furnaces, Fireplaces & Wood Stoves
Heating is the second leading cause of all home fires.
Keep all combustible objects at least 3 feet away from furnaces, fireplaces and wood stoves
Have the chimney professionally cleaned and inspected annually
Do not use flammable liquids or excessive amounts of paper to start or accelerate a fire
Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening
NEVER burn charcoal indoors - it can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide (CO)
NEVER close the damper while hot ashes are in the fireplace - they can heat up again and force toxic carbon monoxide into the house
Before you go to sleep or leave the house, make sure the fire in the fireplace is completely out
Have a smoke alarm on every level of your home, and check it on a monthly basis!
Information provided by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). For more tips on how to prevent heater-related fires and what to do in case a fire starts in your home, visit the USFA website at www.usfa.fema.gov