Precautions to take on the road and at home
PHILADELPHIA, December 15, 2020 — With snow, sleet and rain all expected to fall on the region starting Wednesday, the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania urges people to prepare now. Each year, hundreds of Americans are injured or killed by exposure to cold, vehicle accidents on wintry roads, and fires caused by the improper use of heaters. The Red Cross urges people to stay indoors and wear warm clothes, and to check on relatives, neighbors and friends, particularly if they are elderly or if they live alone.
WINTER STORM SAFETY
The storm will bring dangerous travel conditions and the Red Cross urges everyone to stay off the road if possible. If driving in winter weather is unavoidable, people are urged to follow these tips:
- In your vehicle keep a windshield scraper, small shovel, and small sack of sand or kitty litter for generating traction under wheels. Also carry an emergency supply kit, including warm clothing.
- Keep your vehicle’s gas tank full so you can leave right away in an emergency and to ensure you have enough fuel to keep warm if you get stuck. Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
- Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
- Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
- Don’t pass snow plows.
- Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways.
- If you become stranded, stay in the vehicle and wait for help. Do not leave the vehicle to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards (91 meters). You can quickly become disoriented and confused in blowing snow.
- Display a trouble sign to indicate you need help. Hang a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) on the vehicle.
- Run the engine occasionally to keep warm. Turn on the engine for about 10 minutes each hour (or five minutes every half hour). Running the engine for only short periods reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and conserves fuel. Use the heater while the engine is running. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and slightly open a downwind window for ventilation.
- Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so that you can be seen.
STAY SAFE OUTSIDE
If you are outside:
- Wear layered clothing, mittens or gloves, and a hat. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Mittens or gloves and a hat will prevent the loss of body heat.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite.
- Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses much of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly away from the body.
- Stretch before you go out.
- If you go out to shovel snow, do a few stretching exercises to warm up your body. This will reduce your chances of muscle injury.
- Avoid overexertion, such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a vehicle, or walking in deep snow. The strain from the cold and the hard labor may cause a heart attack. Sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia.
- Walk carefully on snowy, icy sidewalks. Slips and falls occur frequently in winter weather, resulting in painful and sometimes disabling injuries.
HOME HEATING SAFETY
- If using a space heater, place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface in the home.
- Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
- Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended.
- Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
- Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
- Test batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Develop a fire escape plan and practice it with everyone who lives in the home.
PLEASE GIVE BLOOD
Severe winter weather can have a negative impact on the blood supply. Winter storms often result in the cancellation of blood drives and a shortfall of blood and platelet donations. These negative impacts are compounded due to the December holidays and COVID-19. With winter weather potentially impacting portions of the U.S., the American Red Cross encourages eligible blood and platelet donors to make an appointment to give before travel conditions become hazardous or to make an appointment to give as soon as possible after the storm to help restock the blood supply. The Red Cross must collect more than 2,600 platelet and nearly 13,000 blood donations every day for patients at about 2,500 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide, regardless of weather or holiday. To find a blood drive near you, to host a blood drive or to schedule an appointment to give blood, use the Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). To learn more about hosting a blood drive and to sign up to sponsor a drive this winter, visit RedCrossBlood.org/HostADrive.
People can download the Red Cross Emergency app for instant access to weather alerts for their area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid app in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.
About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.
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