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How to Prepare for a Winter Storm

Friday, January 10, 2020 8:20 AM

As we head into winter, the weather continues to be unpredictable. This weather can be quite beautiful from the safety of your home, but it can be dangerous as soon as you step out the front door, from an increased risk of frostbite and slip-and-fall injuries to impaired road conditions.

With proper preparation and attentiveness to potential hazardous seasonal conditions, many of the risks of winter can be greatly reduced or avoided altogether.

NorthShore's Cardiology experts offer advice on how you can stay safe and prepare for the weather ahead:

Winter Storm

General Winter Safety Tips:

  • Take your time when shoveling. While you may want to get the job done fast, it’s important not to overexert yourself. If you start to feel pressure in your chest or experience shortness of breath, take a break and slow down. If symptoms last more than five minutes, you may need to seek medical attention.
  • Be careful of icy sidewalks. Common winter injuries, especially to the ankles and wrists, can be the result of slipping or falling on slick surfaces. For minor injuries, be sure to stretch the area and maintain flexibility for 2-3 days. If you fall and are in severe pain, and notice swelling around the joints, be sure to go to the hospital. You should also go to the hospital if you’ve hit your head and are suffering from a severe headache, vomiting or confusion.
  • Use salt on sidewalks and driveways. The more steps you can employ to reduce your risk of injury, the better. Before a big storm, try to salt heavily trafficked areas to help limit your chances of accidents.
  • Stay inside in inclement weather. If you know a big storm is coming, postpone going out to run errands. Stay off the roads as much as possible. If you are elderly or have problems with your balance, get help with shoveling and daily routines.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite. Keep skin covered at all times. Signs of frostbite include pain (stinging, throbbing, burning), numbness, blistering of the skin or discoloration.

Preparing Your Car:

Whether you're staying in or going out, getting your car ready for the cold weather and snow is a smart decision. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Service the radiator and maintain the antifreeze level.
  • Check tire tread or, if necessary, replace tires with all-weather or snow tires.
  • Keep gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
  • Use a wintertime formula in your windshield washer.
  • Prepare a winter emergency kit to keep in your car in case you become stranded. The kit should include:
    • Cell phone, portable charger, and extra batteries
    • Snowbrush and a small shovel
    • Blankets
    • Towels (to put under tires if you get stuck (for traction) 
    • Food and water
    • Booster cables, flares, tire pump, and a bag of sand or cat litter (for traction)
    • Compass and maps
    • Flashlight, battery-powered radio, and extra batteries
    • First-aid kit
    • Plastic bags (for sanitation)