Winter can be a magical time of year. Some like to play outside in the snow with their friends, while others might prefer to sit inside and drink hot chocolate by the fire. But no matter how you like to spend time in the winter, it’s always important to think about winter safety.
Your local National Weather Service will issue Winter Storm Warnings, Winter Storm Watches and Winter Weather Advisories depending on the type of wintry weather forecast. It’s important to know what these mean so that you can be prepared. A Winter Storm Warning is the most severe – it means take action immediately because dangerous winter conditions are expected. It is not a good idea to play outside during this time. A Winter Storm Watch means to be prepared because a winter storm is possible. A Winter Weather Advisory means to be aware – a winter storm is possible, but with less dangerous conditions.
After a winter storm has passed, if you’d like to play outside in the snow, it’s important to dress appropriately to stay warm. Wear at least two layers of clothing, a Staying Safe in Winter Weatherwarm hat, gloves and waterproof boots. Make sure to cover exposed skin and limit your time outside. This will help you avoid getting frostbite or hypothermia.
Frostbite can happen if skin is exposed to cold temperatures and freezes. It is most common on the fingers, toes, ears, nose, chin and cheeks. Frostbite is most likely to occur when it is very cold and windy. For instance, if the temperature is 0 °F with a 15-mile-per-hour wind, frostbite can occur within about 30 minutes. Frostbite starts by making your skin very cold and then numb. If this happens, take shelter inside immediately.
Hypothermia is when your body’s internal temperature drops below 95 °F, and it is very dangerous. Signs that you’re experiencing hypothermia include confusion, shivering, difficulty speaking, sleepiness and stiff muscles. It’s even possible to experience hypothermia inside, if the temperature is cold enough. To stay safe, make sure the thermometer is set to 68 °F or above.
One very important winter safety tip is to be extra careful around frozen ponds and lakes. It might seem like a fun idea to go ice skating, but it can be very dangerous. If the ice is less than 2 inches thick or has any cracks, holes or breaks, make sure to stay off. Also, check to see if there’s any flowing water around the edges, just below the surface or over the top of the ice – this indicates danger. If you don’t see any warning signs, and if the ice is at least 4 inches, it’s safe to go skating.
If you have pets, it’s important to make sure they stay warm as well! If it’s too cold outside for you, it’s too cold for your pets. Make sure they have a warm, dry place with plenty of food and water.
Winter weather can be very dangerous. Make sure to remember these tips in order to enjoy the winter and stay safe.