Winter is coming: Be prepared for freezing temps and staying safe in Colorado

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COLORADO — The season’s first snow and hard freeze is just around the corner and now’s the time to prepare to keep you and your family safe.

Steps for your home

NFPA and the U.S. Fire Administration say December, January and February are peak months for heating fires – space heaters are the type of equipment most often involved in home heating equipment fires. Here’s what you can do to stay safe:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet from any heat source like fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators or space heaters.
  • Keep portable generators outside, away from windows, and as far away as possible from your home.
  • Install and test carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month.
  • Plug only 1 heat-producing appliance (such as a space heater) into an electrical outlet at a time.
  • Make sure your furniture isn’t blocking your home’s heating vents.
  • During cold spells, keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes, like those in the kitchen and bathrooms.

Prepare your car for winter

The National Safety Council says by getting your car ready for winter and using some simple tips to drive safely, you can face almost any weather Mother Nature sends your way.

In addition to annual maintenance:

  • Test your battery; battery power drops as temperatures drop
  • Make sure the cooling system is in good working order
  • Have winter tires with a deeper, more flexible tread put on your car
  • If using all-season tires, check the tread on your tires and replace if less than 2/32 of an inch
  • Check the tire pressure; tire pressure drops as the temperature drops
  • Check your wiper blades and replace if needed
  • Add wiper fluid rated for -30 degrees
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze

Remember to keep your car’s emergency preparedness kit fully stocked, too.

Be Prepared

Being prepared to go into the cold starts with you.

The National Weather Service says that with the cold weather can come frostbite or hypothermia.

  • The NWS will issue a wind chill warning, wind chill watch, or wind chill advisory.

Nationwide has some tips for cold-related injuries

  • Watch for signs of frostbite: loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities. If any of these occur, get medical help immediately.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia: uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. 
  • If any of the hypothermia symptoms appear, get yourself (or the victim) to a warm location, remove wet clothing, and warm the center of the body first. Give the patient warm, non-alcoholic beverages if they are conscious. And of course, get medical help as soon as possible.

If you must go outside FEMA says wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water-repellent.

  • Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
  • Cover all of your body. Wear a hat and a scarf, covering your mouth to protect your face and to help prevent loss of body heat.
  • Remain dry. Wet clothing loses its insulating ability and easily transmits the cold.

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