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Winter Weather Safety & Safe Driving Tips Porterville College

Stay Safe Campaign

Winter Weather

Winter storms create a higher risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks from overexertion. Winter storms including blizzards can bring extreme cold, freezing rain, snow, ice and high winds.

A winter storm can:

  • Last a few hours or several days.
  • Cut off heat, power and communication services.
  • Put older adults, children and sick individuals at greater risk.

IF YOU ARE UNDER A WINTER STORM WARNING, FIND SHELTER RIGHT AWAY

  • Stay off roads.
  • Stay indoors and dress warmly. If you need to spend time in a public indoor space in order to stay safe from the cold, follow CDC precautions to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
  • Prepare for power outages.
  • Use generators outside only and away from windows.
  • Listen for emergency information and alerts.
  • Look for signs of hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Check on neighbors while following the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on maintaining social and physical distancing.

Prepare Now

  • Know your area’s risk for winter storms. Extreme winter weather can leave communities without utilities or other services for long periods of time.
  • Prepare your home to keep out the cold with insulation, caulking and weather stripping. Learn how to keep pipes from freezing. Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups.
  • Know your winter weather terms.
  • Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of freezing weather and winter storms.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts. Sign up for email updates about coronavirus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Remember the needs of your pets. Have extra batteries for radios and flashlights. If you are able to, set aside items like soap, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol, disinfecting wipes, and general household cleaning supplies that you can use to disinfect surfaces you touch regularly.
  • Create an emergency supply kit for your car. Include jumper cables, sand, a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water and non-perishable snacks. Keep a full tank of gas.

Remember that not everyone can afford to respond by stocking up on necessities. For those who can afford it, making essential purchases and slowly building up supplies in advance will allow for longer time periods between shopping trips.

Frostbite and Hypothermia

Learn the signs of, and basic treatments for, frostbite and hypothermia.

  • If you are sick and need medical attention, contact your healthcare provider for further care instructions and shelter in place, if possible. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 and let the operator know if you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a mask before help arrives.
  • Learn the symptoms of COVID-19 and follow CDC guidance.

Frostbite causes loss of feeling and color around the face, fingers and toes.

  • Signs: Numbness, white or grayish-yellow skin, firm or waxy skin.
  • Actions: Go to a warm room. Soak in warm water. Use body heat to warm. Do not massage or use a heating pad.

Hypothermia is an unusually low body temperature. A temperature below 95 degrees is an emergency.

  • Signs: Shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech or drowsiness.
  • Actions: Go to a warm room. Warm the center of the body first—chest, neck, head and groin. Keep dry and wrapped up in warm blankets, including the head and neck.

Survive During

  • Stay off roads if at all possible. If trapped in your car, then stay inside.
  • Limit your time outside. If you need to go outside, then wear layers of warm clothing. Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Only use generators and grills outdoors and away from windows. Never heat your home with a gas stovetop or oven.
  • Reduce the risk of a heart attack by avoiding overexertion when shoveling snow and walking in the snow.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia and begin treatment right away.
  • If it is safe to do so, check on neighbors while following the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on maintaining social and physical distancing. Consider connecting with family and friends by telephone, e-mail, text messages, video chat, and social media. If you must visit in person, wear a mask and maintain a distance of at least six feet from them. Masks should not be worn by children under two years of age, those who have trouble breathing, and those who are unable to remove them on their own.

Be Safe After

If you are sick and need medical attention, contact your healthcare provider for further care instructions and shelter in place, if possible. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 and let the operator know if you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a mask before help arrives.

Engage virtually with your community through video and phone calls. Know that it’s normal to feel anxious or stressed. Take care of your body and talk to someone if you are feeling upset. Many people may already feel fear and anxiety about the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). The threat of a winter storm can add additional stress. Follow CDC guidance for managing stress during a traumatic event and managing stress during COVID-19.

Safe Driving Tips

Driving in Snow: On the Road

  • Do not use cruise control when driving in ice or snow – it’s important that you stay alert and are able to control your speed at all times.
  • Go slow! It’s easier to control your vehicle when you’re driving at a slow pace, so accelerate and decelerate as slowly as you can to regain traction on the road and avoid skidding off-course.
  • If possible, maintain eight or 10 seconds of distance between you and the car in front of you. It’s harder to stop in the ice and snow.
  • The best way to stop while driving in snow is by threshold braking. It’s not just for race car drivers! Plant the heel of your braking foot on the floor, and with the ball of your foot apply firm, steady pressure to the brake.
  • Don’t stop if you don’t have to. Moving again from a full stop during a blizzard can be difficult and dangerous.
  • Try to drive in the tracks of the car in front of you – it will make it easier to control your vehicle.
  • Be patient with the other drivers on the road. This is a stressful situation for everyone, but it’s important to remain calm.

Driving in Fog

If you must drive in foggy conditions, keep the following safety tips in mind:

  • Slow down and allow extra time to reach your destination.
  • Make your vehicle visible to others both ahead of you and behind you by using your low-beam headlights since this means your taillights will also be on. Use fog lights if you have them.
  • Never use your high-beam lights. Using high beam lights causes glare, making it more difficult for you to see what’s ahead of you on the road.
  • Leave plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to account for sudden stops or changes in the traffic pattern.
  • To ensure you are staying in the proper lane, follow the lines on the road with your eyes.
  • In extremely dense fog where visibility is near zero, the best course of action is to first turn on your hazard lights, then simply pull into a safe location such as a parking lot of a local business and stop.
  • If there is no parking lot or driveway to pull into, pull your vehicle off to the side of the road as far as possible. Once you come to a stop, turn off all lights except your hazard flashing lights, set the emergency brake, and take your foot off of the brake pedal to be sure the tail lights are not illuminated so that other drivers don't mistakenly run into you.

5 tips to remember for driving safely in the rain

  1. Think. "Many people drive subconsciously, out of habit. When it rains, they often don't adjust their thinking." When conditions are less than ideal, drivers need to stay alert and focused on what's going on around them.
  2. Turn on those headlights. It's the law in all states to turn on headlights when visibility is low, and many states also require having the headlights on when the windshield wipers are in use. Well-working wipers and relatively new (not threadbare) tires are must-haves when driving in rain, especially when driving at high speeds on the highway.
  3. Beware of hydroplaning. Hydroplaning is the technical term for what occurs when your tires lose traction with the road due to excess water on top of the road. The result is that your vehicle begins to slide uncontrollably. It's easy to hydroplane: all you need is one-twelfth of an inch of rain on the road and a speed of more than 35 miles per hours. If your tires have extensive wear and tear, you are more highly likely to hydroplane. You can hydroplane even if you are driving a four-wheel drive car, SUV, or truck. If you start to hydroplane, let off the accelerator (gas pedal) slowly, and steer straight until you regain control. If your car starts to spin, turn your wheel in the direction that the vehicle is spinning, slowly. Do not turn your wheel against the direction it has begun to spin. Do not jerk the wheel sharply in one direction or the other, as you could flip your car due to over correction.
  4. Turn off cruise control. Ironically, on rain- or snow- slick surfaces, cruise control may cause you to lose control. You might think it'll help you stay at one steady speed, but if you hydroplane while you're in cruise control, your car will actually go faster.
  5. Slow down. "Speed limit signs are designed for ideal conditions, which means driving when you have little traffic and good visibility." That's hardly the environment you're driving in when it's raining. So, let up on the accelerator and allow more time to get to your destination.

Resources

Created By
Todd Dearmore
Appreciate

Credits:

Created with images by kentdufault - "driving winter snow" • photosforyou - "winter nature snow" • JillWellington - "red vintage car winter pines" • blende12 - "traffic auto highway" • music4life - "rain raindrop traffic"