10 tips for staying safe this winter

Winter can be an exciting season, particularly if you have children and it snows; however, it is important to recognise the dangers and stay safe this winter. Many accidents and illness are caused by the freezing weather and so many of them could be prevented. Read our ten tips on how you can keep yourself safe this winter.

Take care when driving

If it’s snowing take extra care when you are driving. In 2012, 38 people were killed in accidents on the road in adverse conditions; 544 were seriously injured and 1584 had minor injuries. Try and stick to main roads where possible that are likely to have been gritted and make sure you leave plenty of time for the journey. Pull away in a higher gear than usual and steer into a skid should you feel yourself losing control.

Winter proof your car

Prepare in advance for adverse weather conditions. Check your tyres, and replace if needed (do not forget your spare tyre as well). Be sure that you have an emergency kit in your car, should you find yourself stuck anywhere (include blankets as well, in case you have to wait for help). In extreme cases consider getting snow chains fitted to your car. Before setting off anywhere, make sure that you have cleared all of the ice and snow from your car properly. Do not pour hot water over your windscreen or windows as this can cause it to crack.

Take car on foot

If you have to walk anywhere in adverse weather conditions make sure you are wearing suitable shoes. Try if possible to wear boots that support your ankle, and be sure that they have appropriate grip on the bottom. Be mindful when walking and consider what is underfoot. You can get chains that attach to your shoes, or use walking poles in severe weather. In 2012/13 just over 7000 people were admitted to hospital due to injuries caused by slipping on ice, so it is important to take care.

Plan your route

This is important if you are travelling on foot or in the car. Be sure that you and others know the exact route that you will be taking. Try and stick to clearest and most major route, as this is more likely to be gritted and clear of snow and ice. Stick to this route at all times and be sure that you have left plenty of time for your journey. Foresee any likely delays and cater for this. The last thing you should be doing in bad weather conditions is rushing.

Do not walk over frozen rivers or lakes

Whilst this may look fun, it is incredibly dangerous, and is the cause of 20 deaths over recent years, plus many, many more near misses. You have absolutely no way of knowing if the ice will hold your weight. If your dog ends up on the ice, it is much more likely that they will be able to scrabble to safety, whereas you put yourself in unnecessary danger if you were to chase after your dog. Be aware of the dangers frozen lakes can pose and don’t put yourself or your pet at risk.

Be safe when sledging

Be mindful of the area in which you choose to go sledging. Do not sledge near roads, a pavement, or water. Walk up the hill you intend to sledge down before, to get a feeling of how deep the snow is, allowing you to spot any potential dangers along the way. Always go feet first as well never travel head first. Be sure to wrap up warm, and only go sledging in the daylight.

Don’t forget sunscreen

This one can be an easy one to forget, or not think about, because the weather is cold, and you tend to be wrapped up; but it is incredibly important. If it is snowing, the snow will reflect the sunlight back up from the ground, increasing the UV exposure, so it is very important to be protected from this.

Stay safe at home

During the colder months, it is understandable that you are going to want your home to be warm. Whilst it is very important to keep warm when you are indoors, you also need to be sure that all of your appliances (boilers etc.) have been properly installed and regularly serviced. Every year 11 people die of carbon monoxide poisoning, due to gas appliances that have not been fitted properly. This needs to be carried out by a registered professional, and sufficient ventilation throughout the home is essential.

Dress appropriately

When the temperature drops, there is an increased risk of developing hypothermia, if you are exposed to the cold weather for long periods of time. This is a particular risk among the elderly. To lower this risk be sure that you move about at regular intervals, drink plenty and eat regularly, as well as wearing appropriate clothing. It is recommended that you wear several layers of thin clothing, and hats, gloves and scarfs if you are going outside. When layering up though, do not neglect the lower half of your body, and remember that your legs will get cold too.

Stay seen

If you are walking in adverse weather conditions, it is important that you can be seen by other walkers, and, most importantly, by vehicles. Wear either a high visibility jacket, or if you do not have access to one of these, a brightly coloured item of clothing, or scarf. Make sure that you stick to footpaths, do not attempt to walk along a road.

For snow clearing and gritting services contact UK Gritting
For more information about keeping safe this winter visit: www.rospa.com/wintersafety