NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


| Share

Staying Safe During Winter Weather

Staying Safe during Winter Weather


                Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Ground Hog Day 2018 so if we follow his forecast, we are in for six more weeks of winter.

                Whether we are hoping for an early spring or have an extended winter, it is important to be prepared for winter weather.

                Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack – a major cause of death in the winter. Use caution, take breaks, push the snow instead of lifting it when possible and lift lighter loads.  And one more tip about snow shoveling - do some stretching exercises first. You can also march in place or walk for a couple of minutes. With your muscles all warm, not only will you work more efficiently, you also reduce the risk of injuring yourself.

                Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.

                Walk safely.  We all know to be on the look-out for ice when walking but where are your hands when walking during the winter?   Think twice before walking outside with your hands in your pockets. Why?  Keeping your hands in your pockets increases the risk of you falling or completely losing your balance in case you slip while walking on ice or snow.

                Wear the right layers.  North Dakotans know that layers are key in cold weather but be sure you are wearing the right type of layers. Inner Layer: Wear fabrics that will hold more body heat and don’t absorb moisture. Wool, silk, or polypropylene will hold more body heat than cotton. Insulation Layer: An insulation layer will help you retain heat by trapping air close to your body. Natural fibers, like wool or goose down, or a classic fleece work best. Outer Layer: The outermost layer helps protect you from wind, rain, and snow. It should be tightly woven, and preferably water and wind resistant, to reduce loss of body heat.

                Avoid frostbite and hypothermia. Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposures to very cold temperatures. When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it’s produced. Lengthy exposures will eventually use up your body’s stored energy, which leads to lower body temperature. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia especially dangerous, because a person may not know its happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.  Frostbite is a bodily injury caused by freezing that causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation.

                Be safe when enjoying the outdoors.  Notify friends and family where you will be before you go hiking, camping, or skiing.   Avoid perspiring or becoming overtired. Be prepared to take emergency shelter.  Pack dry clothing, a two-wave radio, waterproof matches and paraffin fire starters with you.

                If you plan to use a wood stove, fireplace, or space heater, be extremely careful. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use fireplaces, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside and do not leak flue gas into the indoor air space.  Use only the type of fuel your heater is designed to use—don’t substitute. Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that may catch on fire, such as drapes, furniture, or bedding.

                Use generators safely.  Generators should be located at least 20 feet from any window, door or vent -- preferably in a space where rain and snow does not reach them.  Never use an electric generator indoors, in the basement, inside the garage, or near open windows or the air intake of your house because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Creative Commons License
Feel free to use and share this content, but please do so under the conditions of our Creative Commons license and our Rules for Use. Thanks.