Winter is Around the Corner

Well it seems as though it’s going to be a typical fall in St. Louis; last week it was 90, this week it’s 45. Saint Louisans will tell you, fall is short here…winter is around the corner. And although winters here are not as brutal as those up north, there is still enough dangerous cold and icy weather to warrant a quick safety checkup.

Here are some steps to take in preparation for winter:

The Furnace – As the cold nights set in, we eventually will switch the furnace on to ward away those cold chills. Whether gas, electric, or wood heat, check your smoke detectors to ensure that they’re in working order. I know most of us replace the batteries when we set our clocks as daylight savings time switches back and forth, but it is a good idea to give them a test when you switch on the heat. If you’re not using electricity to heat your home, you should definitely have carbon monoxide detectors in your home as well, especially near the furnace or other source of heat. It’s also a great idea to purchase a couple of electric space heaters just in case your furnace has a problem during freezing temperatures. Even if you decide to leave home. A couple of space heaters may be enough to keep pipes from freezing in the kitchen or bathroom. Remember too, never use outdoor heating or cooking equipment indoors. Every year it seems there are lives lost to fire and carbon monoxide poisoning because of this bad decision.

Food and water – If there is a major storm, why risk having to go out of the house for food and water. Or this area, I recommend keeping at least a week’s supply of water and food that needs no cooking or refrigeration. It doesn’t have to be gourmet, just edible and safely stored.

Light and backup electricity – Sure, we’d all like to have a backup generator in our home. But they’re just a wee bit expensive. What we can have instead, is a couple of fully charged flashlights, backup batteries or rechargeable battery packs, and solar chargers. I recommend getting a small 12V rechargeable battery pack at the discount store. You can find these in either the home electronics or automotive section (some of these store enough power to start your car). Most of these come with a charger that plugs into household current and have a USB port on them for charging phones and such. If you leave it plugged in, it will be fully charged when the power goes out. Likewise, there are small solar panels available which have USB ports on them to charge small battery operated appliances such as phones or USB powered LED lights. And of course, it wouldn’t be a complete list without recommending a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio.

Keeping outdoors safe – Make sure you’re ready for snow and ice but refreshing your supply of ice melt and checking that you still have a shovel handy. Also, make sure your outdoor faucets aren’t leaking at all. Any leaks will eventually freeze and burst the pipe indoors. Not a problem…..until it thaws.

Automobiles – Along with the flashlight, tire inflator, booster cables, and road flares you should already have in your car, prepare your automobile for a winter emergency by loading it with a warm blanket, boots, gloves, and a hat. Throw in an ice scraper, ice melt, sand or cat litter (for traction), and a small shovel just in case we get another snow like ’82. We also try to have a few small bags of necessities such as gloves, hats, snacks and heat packs handy to hand to anyone who looks like they might need it.

An additional resource for winter preparedness can be found here:

One last thing, for some of us winter weather represents a hazardous mobility challenge. So remember to check up on those family and friends who may need a little assistance or just a friend to talk to during the inclement weather.

Thanks for reading,
And remember to take the next step…

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