Winter Safety Tips

schambow_thumbBy Becky Shambow, Safety & Risk Manager at Southwest Health

Any day now the snow is sure to fall. How prepared are you and your family for the winter weather? Here are a few tips on how to make sure you are ready for whatever this winter throws at us.

  1. Prepare an emergency kit for your home. Emergency kits should include rock salt and sand to help melt ice and improve traction, snow shovels or other equipment for moving snow, a sufficient source of heat (fuel, gas, wood, etc), plenty of warm clothes, and blankets.
  2. Make sure your vehicle is ready. Winterizing your vehicle includes checking your antifreeze levels, making sure your battery and ignition system are in working condition, checking your brakes and exhaust system, making sure you have a relatively full take of gas at all times, ensuring your heater and defroster are working, checking your thermostat and oil levels, having good winter wipers, and most of all being sure your tires have adequate tread and are safe for the winter roads.
  3. Prepare an emergency kit for your car. Emergency kits for your vehicle are just as important and should include a windshield scraper, flashlight, battery-powered radio, water, snack food, extra hats/gloves, a blanket, road salt and sand, booster cables, emergency flares, and a fluorescent distress flag.
  4. Make a family communication plan. It’s always a good idea to have a plan for how your family will contact each other should disaster strike. Be sure everyone knows whom to call, where to meet, who is responsible for loved ones (children, pets, elderly, etc).
  5. Bring pets and companion animals inside during the cold months. All animals are susceptible to the effects of dangerously cold weather. Be sure that they have non-frozen drinking water, plenty of food, and a shelter from the elements. If you’re unsure what your pet or livestock needs, talk to your vet.
  6. Winterize your home. Make sure your home is properly insulated. This can include bulking up on insulation in the walls and attic, caulking and weather-stripping your doors and windows, or installing storm windows or plastic covers. Make sure your heating equipment has been serviced and is in good working order. Keep fire extinguishers close by, and make sure everyone in your house is familiar with how to use them. Locate and familiarize yourself with your water shut off valves in case you have a pipe burst.

As the Safety and Risk Manager at Southwest Health, it’s my job to keep our organization safe. We work together with our operations team to assure your safety every time you step foot on one of our campuses. But we also care about your safety at home. So, while this may seem like a long list, you’ll probably find that you’re already doing most of these out of habit.

Stay safe and have a happy and healthy winter. Learn more at

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