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Environmental Health

‘Be prepared’ a good motto for winter

‘Be prepared’ a good motto for winter

Dec. 20, 2023

By Mary Wade Burnside

Winter officially starts today and in the past few weeks, we've have some reminders that it has been on its way, with a few doses of snow, ice and cold snaps this season.
That makes it tricky during a time of year when many people are busy shopping, attending parties and visiting friends and family.
Whoever said, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow” didn’t have a long way to drive to reach their celebration destination.
So it makes a lot of sense to be prepared for winter. It can help reduce bills and anxiety, and if
an emergency situation occurs, you’ll be thanking yourself for that extra preparation.
Both Monongalia County Health Department’s Environmental Health and Threat Preparedness programs work to educate area residents on ways to get ready for the next three months with advice for everything from snow shoveling to making an emergency kit.
Here are some tips to help make your winter cozier and more safe.
Snow shoveling: Do not shovel after eating or while smoking. Take it slow and stretch out first. Push the snow rather than lift it. If you do lift snow, only partially fill the shovel. Lift with your legs, not your back. Take breaks and don’t work until the point of exhaustion. And know the signs of a heart attack. If you experience any of them, stop immediately and call 911.
Car readiness: Service the radiator and maintain the antifreeze level. Check the tires and if necessary, replace them with all-weather or snow tires. Keep the gas tank on the fuller side to
avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines. You also will appreciate it if you get caught in traffic. Replace windshield wipers if needed and use a wintertime formula in the washer fluid.
Car emergency kit: Prepare a winter emergency kit for your car. Include a cell phone, portable charger and extra batteries; blankets; snacks; booster cables, flares, tire pump and a bag of
sand or cat litter for traction; compass and maps; flashlight and flares; and a first aid kit.
Winter weather: Avoid driving in storms and on ice. Refer to WV 511 (which features highway cameras for a real-time check of the roads), weather apps and other websites to get updates on conditions. Avoid long exposure outside during cold weather. Dress in layers and wear gloves and a hat in addition to a coat. Do not leave pets outside in the cold.
Home emergency kit: Include supplies for each family member and pet for at least three days. Supplies should include a gallon of water a day for each person in the household as well as nonperishable food; manual can opener; battery-powered radio; flashlights; dust mask; wipes and other sanitary products; cell phone and charger.
Around the home: Put weather stripping around your windows and doors. Check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Leave at least three feet of space around
fireplaces and space heaters. Do not plug space heaters into power strips, keep them away from fabric and do not use them unattended. Never run a generator inside. If you are running a
portable generator, you need to have a working carbon monoxide detector.
Food safety: Food safety is important year-round but if you are cooking for the holidays, it’s a great time to review how to cook a variety of meats and when to refrigerate items on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.
Health: If sick, stay home from work or school. Flu shots help keep you and others safe and also can save you from having to take time off work for you or your children. is a handy website that will provide additional information. Winter can be a cozy and fun time, especially with some preparation.
Mary Wade Burnside is the public information officer at Monongalia County Health Department.





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