Snowball fights and sipping hot chocolate by the fireplace may be nice winter pastimes, but you should always be aware of the risks that accompany the cold. The frigid temperatures can cause more problems than one might think. Your children may love to play in the snow, but it’s not as fun for adults when problems arise. Let’s take a look at three common winter risks and what to do if they occur.
Clearing Your Roof
Snow can pile up on your roof, which may be subject to damage under the added weight. If you find that your roof is collecting large amounts of snow, you may want to clear it off to prevent potential complications. Do not try this yourself if you are afraid of heights or unsure that you are capable of accomplishing this task. Professional help is available for hire. However, if you are confident in your abilities, there are some safety steps to follow for the protection of you and your home.
Double check that your ladder is sturdy and locked in place before climbing up. As an extra precaution, have someone hold the ladder steady as you climb up and down. To clear snow away, use a long-handled snow rake or pole. Plan where you want the snow to fall before you begin clearing; aim away from any structures, people or cars. Be careful to avoid contact with electrical wires. Clearing a roof is a big task and you should not try it alone. Having the presence of another person will come in handy in case you get injured.
Power outages during winter are particularly stressful because it can become difficult to stay warm. If you lose power, check the circuit breakers and fuses to see if they were blown. However, an easy fix is not always the case. A blackout should be reported to your utility company. Do not call 911 unless there is an emergency, such as fallen power lines.
Before the loss of heat can take a toll, change into warm clothing and put on a hat that covers your ears. You can start a fire if you have a fireplace or wood stove, but do not use kerosene heaters (or any other outdoor appliance) inside of your home; these devices create a colorless, odorless gas called carbon monoxide, a poisonous byproduct of combustion.
The return of power after a blackout can cause a power surge, which can damage electronics. You can reduce this risk by taking action during a blackout. Unplug your major appliances and turn off electronic devices at their power source. Ensure that at least one light is left on so you know when your power is restored. During this time, avoid opening your fridge door unless absolutely necessary. Food will stay cool for a couple of hours behind the closed door, which will reduce the food spoilage in a shorter blackout.
If you have a generator, make sure that it is properly installed outside (by an electrician if possible). It should run downwind of your home to rid the area of carbon monoxide. Keep children away from generators at all times and do not exceed the rated power capacity.
Building snowmen and making snow angels is the best part about winter for children. It’s only natural to want to play outside in the snow. But, because of the risk of frostbite and hypothermia, children should be dressed appropriately and supervised closely while playing outdoors.
Dressing in layers is often warmer than a single thick layer. A coat, scarf, hat and mittens will keep little bodies warmer for longer. Heat is lost through your head and hands, so a hat that covers ears is even more beneficial. Waterproof boots will keep little feet warm and dry.
If you notice a child is shivering, moving very slowly, appears to be tired or has faded pale skin, it’s time to go inside to warm up. Changing into dry clothes and drinking hot liquids helps the body regain its appropriate internal temperature.
Hypothermia is when the body loses heat faster than it can burn the energy to produce more. Symptoms include extreme shivering, slurring words, incoherence, severe lethargy and can result in death. Anyone suffering from similar symptoms needs immediate medical attention. A victim should be changed into dry, warm clothing if necessary. Layers should be added to the head, neck and torso. Warm liquid, such as tea, is helpful as well.
Extreme cases of winter maladies are rare for families that are aware of the risks and actively take precautions against them. With safety in mind, the cold season can be an enjoyable time for both children and adults alike. Stay toasty warm and have a (snow) ball this winter!