November 14, 2017
Winter is almost here and at the Genesee Health Plan (GHP), we want to connect you with the top 10 tips you need to stay safe and healthy through the winter season. We recently spoke with Michigan State Trooper Amy Belanger to learn how to prepare for inclement weather and what to do during a winter emergency. Here are the top 10 tips for staying safe this winter while on the road or at home:
1. Clear ice off your windshield. Keep an ice scraper in your vehicle. Tpr. Belanger says the number one thing to do before you drive is make sure your windows are clear of ice and snow. In the morning, when ice builds up over night on your windshield, your windows can fog up and can hinder your ability to see clearly. It’s also recommended to start your vehicle a few minutes before you need to drive to help the ice defrost.
2. Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter. Make sure your windshield washer fluid is full as well as your gas tank. Carry cat litter or sand and a shovel in case you get stuck in snow. Additionally, keep your tires properly inflated and keep jumper cables stored in your vehicle in case your battery needs a jump.
3. Pay attention to the weather. Always check the weather before making plans to travel and be aware of winter advisories and warnings. For weather updates, tune into the local weather broadcasting radio station NOAA Michigan, KIH29 (162.457). You can also tune into Flint Public Radio at WFUM 91.1 FM, WFOV 92.1 FM or WKGZ 96.7 FM, or Flint News Talk Radio at WFNT 1470 AM or WWCK 1570 AM. When driving, be aware of black ice that usually forms in the morning over bridges. Tpr. Belanger says it’s critical to pay attention to signs posted before bridges and to always proceed with caution. Bridges can freeze because of the cold air that flows underneath.
4. Drive according to the road’s conditions. Remember to drive according to road conditions. Tpr. Belanger says just because the speed limit is 70 mph on the highway doesn’t mean you should drive 70 mph in snowy or icy conditions. Slow down and be aware of stopping distances, as it may be slippery and could take you longer to come to a complete stop. Tpr. Belanger also advised that law enforcement officials can give tickets to drivers for driving too fast in dangerous winter conditions.
5. Avoid driving during winter storms/blizzards. If you don’t have to drive when the weather is bad, don’t go out. Tpr. Belanger says it’s not worth it to drive in dangerous conditions and risk getting caught in a blizzard. Stay home instead.
6. Pack a winter travel kit. Before you hit the road, make sure your car has a cell phone charger, warm clothes, boots and blankets, water, snacks like granola bars or trail mix, and a flashlight with batteries. These items will come in handy if you get stuck during an emergency and have to wait for help.
7. If you get stuck, stay in your vehicle. If you do get stuck on the side of the road or you slide into a ditch, do not leave your vehicle or walk down the highway looking for help. Stay in your car for warmth, call for help and wait for someone to assist you.
8. Keep snow clear of your vehicle’s exhaust pipe. If your vehicle gets stuck and you need to keep it running to stay warm, make sure snow and any obstructions are clear of your vehicle’s exhaust pipe. If it’s blocked with snow, fumes from the exhaust can get trapped in your vehicle. If this happens, carbon monoxide can build up inside the vehicle and possibly cause death.
9. Have a communications plan in place. Anytime you travel during the winter, make sure someone knows where you’re going. Whether it’s making a trip to the grocery store, going to work or driving home for the holidays, always tell someone about your travel plans. This way if you get in an accident or are stuck in snow, someone will be able to find you or call for help.
10. Prepare your home for snow storms. When you’re at home this winter, make sure you have extra warm clothing, blankets, batteries, flashlights, matches and candles for light. Tpr. Belanger says it’s always a good idea to have canned food on hand, and if you have animals, make sure you have enough food for them, too. If you plan on using a generator, be careful, says Tpr. Belanger. Although generators can provide heat and electricity, they can also leak carbon monoxide. When using a generator, make sure it is in a well-ventilated area outside of your home.
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