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Winter Safety Tips

From the Whitman College Safety Committee

At work:

  • When snow and/or ice are present on sidewalks use the main entrances of buildings. They will be the first to be cleared and de-iced. Keep in mind, there are many entries to clear, the grounds crew may not have reached your building yet. During periods of icy fog or drizzle, or after normal business hours remember sidewalks, parking lots and roads may be very slippery. Use extreme caution.
  • Use hand rails when they are provided.
  • Wear traction-soled shoes or boots. If sidewalks are icy, walk in the grass for better traction.
  • Be aware that wet leaves can be very slick. Watch your step.
  • Allow more time! Your chances of slipping and falling are greater if you are in a hurry.
  • NOTE Security staff can provide an escort anytime day or night. If you are concerned about your personal safety while walking to or from your car or between buildings after dark, call the Security Department at x5777.

At home:

  • Install smoke detectors near each bedroom and on each floor of your home. Test it monthly. If it has a battery, change the battery once a year.
  • Install a carbon monoxide (CO) detector. Know the symptoms of CO poisoning: headache, fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath. If you experience any of these symptoms, get fresh air right away and contact a doctor for proper diagnosis.
  • Make sure your heating system is in good condition. Have your furnace serviced, your fireplace or woodstove chimney and flue inspected and cleaned if needed.
  • Check the lint trap in your dryer for accumulations of lint, which can ignite.
  • Keep portable space heaters at least three feet from anything that can burn, including bedding, furniture, and clothing. Never drape anything over a space heater to dry.
  • Keep on-hand extra blankets, flashlights with extra batteries, matches, a first aid kit, manual can opener, snow shovel and rock salt or kitty litter, and special items such as diapers, medications, bottled water, and canned food or food that does not require refrigeration or cooking.

In the car:

  • Check weather reports or travel advisories. Avoid traveling on ice-covered roads if at all possible. If you must travel, make sure someone knows your route, destination and expected arrival time.
  • Never rely on your car to provide sufficient heat; the car may break down. Always dress warmly in clothes appropriate for winter conditions.
  • SEE AND BE SEEN – Completely clear ALL vehicle windows of condensation, frost, snow or ice before beginning to drive. Make sure your headlights are clear and the glass is clean.
  • Have your car tuned up, check the level of antifreeze, make sure the battery is good, and check your tire tread or put on snow tires. Replace windshield wiper fluid with a wintertime mix. Keep the gas tank near full to help avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.

Winter survival kit for your car

Equip your car with these items:
Cell phone and charger
First aid kit
Windshield scraper
Road maps
Tool kit
A bag of sand or cat litter
Collapsible shovel
Flashlight and extra batteries
Brightly colored cloth or "flag"
A can and waterproof matches
Jumper cables
Paper towels
Tire chains or cables
High calorie "energy" dry foods

Canned compressed air with sealant

Shoveling snow:

  • Avoid shoveling snow if you are out of shape. If you have a history of heart trouble, do not shovel snow unless your doctor says it's okay.
  • Do light warm-up exercises before beginning. Take frequent rest breaks.
  • Do not drink alcohol before or while shoveling snow. Do drink water to stay hydrated.
  • Avoid throwing snow over your shoulder or to the side. In fact, avoid lifting it whenever possible. Try pushing the snow in front of you. Throw it straight ahead.
  • For deep or heavy snow tackle it in two stages. First, skim the snow off the top, then remove the bottom layer.
  • Dress warmly and stay dry. Wear shoes or boots with traction or rubber soles to prevent falls.

What Is Hypothermia

In cold temperatures you begin to lose heat faster than you can produce it. Prolonged exposure to cold may result in hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Body temperatures that drop too low affect the brain an make it difficult to think clearly or move quickly. Hypothermia is dangerous because you may not know it's occurring until it's too late.

Signs of Hypothermia

  • shivering / exhaustion
  • confusion / fumbling hands memory loss / slurred speech
  • drowsiness

Cold-related illnesses are life threatening. Seek medical help as soon as possible.

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