Depending on where you are in the world, you could be relishing the prospect of a balmy festive season complete with a sun tan, sticky humidity and a beach barbecue. On the other hand, you may be about to enjoy a more traditional white Christmas complete with snow-laden scenery, icy breezes and smoky chimneys. If you are fortunate enough to be walking in a winter wonderland at the moment, you also need to be aware of the hazards that go along with the beautiful wintery vistas that you’re enjoying. This doesn’t mean being a miser and never venturing out of your humble abode for fear of slipping. Rather, you need to be clued up about how to stay safe this festive season so you can promote goodwill to all men (and women) instead of being laid up in a hospital bed with a broken leg.
There are many winter hazards out there, but that doesn’t mean we should be living in fear of them. Take a look at how you can be aware of the dangers that cold snaps can bring and how you can mitigate them.
There’s nothing more joyous and festive than having a roaring fire ablaze while you and your loved ones are snuggled up watching an old-school Christmas movie. You might be wrapped up in your warmest and coziest clothes, and you may have a hot chocolate in hand as you admire the twinkling fairy lights that adorn your Christmas tree. To ensure that this particular seasonal scene can be a reality you need to complete some maintenance checks in your home.
Before you light the fire for the first time this winter, it’s vital that you check that your chimney is unblocked. If you have a partially or fully blocked flue, you risk starting a chimney fire which may result in the emergency services needing to tackle a blaze within your humble abode; not a great start to the festive season.
In a similar way to your chimney, you need to ensure that your central heating system is also able to work. Even though you may not need your heating on for most of the year, it pays to fire it up once in a while to prevent the pipework from seizing up or freezing over. Every year you should have your boiler serviced by a gas registered engineer to ensure that it is safe and adequately ventilated. You do not want carbon monoxide gases finding their way inside your four walls. This hazardous gas can be fatal when inhaled. As a backup, install cheap carbon monoxide monitors into your home. The chances are that they will never alert you to any emergency, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The chances are that you will be doing some traveling this Christmas. You may be fortunate enough to be staying local and merely popping down the shops once or twice to complete your Christmas shopping, or you could be embarking on a road trip across state to visit friends and family. Either way, you must ensure that your car is winter roadworthy.
Carry out the basic maintenance checks that you would at any time of the year. It’s more vital than ever that your tires are at legal tread depths to give you maximum grip. Ensure that the antifreeze levels are at an optimum and that your heaters are working. Hopefully, you won’t be caught in a snow flurry, storm or blizzard. However, you need to be prepared should the worst occur. Pack your trunk full of food, water, snacks, blankets, a red warning triangle and a snow shovel. At least if you are stranded you can stay warm, stay fed and stay comfortable.
Sometimes you cannot account for the road hazards you find yourself contending with. While you may be a safe and responsible driver, those around you may not be. They could be eager to reach their destination and be willing to drive recklessly simply to make up time. This means you need to have your wits about you and keep your distance from these sorts of drivers. Nevertheless, you may find yourself in a road accident through no fault of your own. This could be a rollover accident, a head-on collision or an intersection bump. You can click here to find out the most common types of injuries caused by rear-end collisions; the most common winter accident caused by drivers lacking adequate brakes or becoming distracted. All you can do is keep your own driving in check and be prepared should you become involved in a collision.
It doesn’t matter whether you are 8 or 48, you might want to venture out into the winter wonderland you find yourself in to play in the snow, build a snowman and make a few snow angels. Don’t wear your sneakers or cross trainers outside only to find yourself knee deep in the white stuff and slipping and sliding across patches of ice. You may fall and break a bone, or worse still bang your head and become concussed.
The outdoor environment in winter is more hazardous but not something we should be fearful of; we simply need to prepare. Wrap up warm in layers – a t-shirt, thin body top, zip up fleece and waterproof jacket complete with scarf, gloves and hat should suffice. You need to be wearing strong and sturdy boots or wellies to give you good grip on icy surfaces and within the deeper flurries of snow.
There are a few essential pieces of kit you should always have with you when heading outdoors in the winter. Always carry your smartphone and make sure it’s fully charged before you venture outside. Should you become stuck for any reason, at least you’ll be able to call a friend to help. Never forget a basic first aid kit. Plasters and anti-bacterial wipes should be enough and could prevent any cut or bruise from getting infected.
If you do live somewhere susceptible to ice, keep an eye on the weather forecast. If ice is predicted, scatter some gritting salt outside your door and on your driveway to prevent slipping accidents. If a weather warning has been issued and the advice is to stay indoors, heed it. Don’t be a maverick as you may be asking for trouble.
Winter is one of the most beautiful times of the year. Follow these tips, and you can be enjoying this festive season in your very own winter wonderland.