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Be Chill About Safety! Follow These Cold Weather Tips


The chill of winter weather brings the possibility of snow and snow days. Unfortunately, the falling mercury poses safety hazards and dangers for people, pets, and property. As blustery temperatures enter the area, follow our list of cold weather tips to stay safe, minimize property risks, and keep pets warm and healthy.


Table of Contents:

Cold Weather Car Tips

  • How to Winterize: Car Checklist for Winter Weather Safety

Working in Cold Weather Safety Tips

  • The Best Cold Weather Gear

  • Extreme Cold Weather Clothing

School Bus Stop Safety

  • Appropriate Winter Clothing for School Bus Stop

Cold Weather Pet Tips 

Know the Signs of Hypothermia

Don’t Forget to Check the Pipes

FAQ: Cold Weather Safety 


Synopsis:

Mind the four P’s of winter weather safety: people, pets, property, and  pipes. Proper proactive habits can protect lives, pets and property–including your car!


Cold Weather Car Tips

Winter weather contributed to the automobile-related deaths of nearly 400 individuals in Missouri during 2021. As snow and ice pelt roadways and create slick, slippery, and dangerous traveling conditions, drivers must abide by additional safety tips during the commute. When navigating in snow and ice, always:


  • Slow down

  • Illuminate headlights 

  • Allow additional distance between other vehicles

  • Pack a cold-weather emergency kit in case drivers become stranded


The Impact of Cold Weather on Your Vehicle

Snow and ice travel pose unique road hazards, but the cold weather and frigid temperatures also create other vehicle issues.


The most common car troubles in extreme cold include:


  • Slow start 

  • A shorter range (for electric vehicles)

  • Decreased tire pressure

  • Fogging windshields

  • Bad batteries


How to Handle a Car That’s Slow to Start

Cars don’t love extremely cold temperatures, and drivers may discover that their car starts slower during winter or has a rough start. If the car has issues turning over, another underlying problem could exist. However, a rough or slow start during extreme temperatures might correlate to cold batteries or frozen fuel lines. 


Many drivers allow their car to ‘warm up’ for a few minutes before driving. While owners should never leave a running car unattended, sitting in the vehicle for a few minutes before venturing on the road is fine. This time allows the engine to warm up and help the systems run smoothly. 


Cold Temperatures Lead to Shorter Ranges

Extremely cold temperatures impact electric vehicles (EVs) differently. As batteries power EVs, cold weather strains the entire mechanical system. While standard internal combustion engines (ICE) use the heat from the engine to warm the cabin, EVs require power from the battery to add warmth. 


Cold temperatures can cut the expected range of an EV by about a quarter. Drivers need to understand this negative impact, as they might need to locate a public charging station to regenerate their vehicles. Depending on the distance of the commute, the EV might lack the range in the winter to drive to and from the destination on one full charge. 


A Cold-Weather Wilted Tire

Newer vehicles include electronic data about the car’s systems via a smart screen on the dashboard. Drivers receive alerts about oil life, fuel efficiency, and tire pressure. During winter, drivers might notice that their tire pressure falls. The cold weather naturally ‘deflates’ tires, but this change isn’t permanent. As the car warms and the external temperatures rise, the tire pressure also increases. 


However, drivers should assess for a leak if tire pressure remains consistently low. Always keep tires inflated according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. 


See Clearly and Defog the Windows

Cold weather and car cabin heat combine to create one very frustrating issue: foggy windows. Alleviate the fog by using the car’s defroster. Drivers need to adjust the temperature to remediate the condensation on the windows. Never drive with foggy windows! 


Cold Weather Can Zap Batteries

Extremely cold temperatures can zap a car battery. If the battery is nearing the end of its life, the bitter cold causes more issues and drains the power. When the battery fails, a ‘jump’ could help revitalize the battery long enough to drive to a service center. In some cases, a jump fully remediates the issue. 


How to Winterize: Car Checklist for Cold-Weather Safety

Before winter weather and cold temperatures create havoc on roadways, drivers should prepare by winterizing their vehicles.


Here are 10 crucial steps to winterizing a vehicle:


  1. Check the tire tread and consider installing snow tires

  2. Schedule a maintenance check-up on the vehicle

  3. Replace wiper blades (if necessary)

  4. Create a winter emergency kit

  5. Purchase an ice-scraper and store it in the back of the vehicle

  6. Change the oil (if necessary)

  7. Check the battery

  8. Consider using a fuel additive (to remove water)

  9. Regularly check the tire pressure

  10. Wax the car (this protects the paint)


Working in Cold Weather Safety Tips

Cold weather can impact health if individuals work outside to clear snow from sidewalks and driveways or focus on job-related outdoor tasks. Stay safe when working in cold weather and abide by these safety tips:


  • Wear protective warm clothing; when working outdoors in snow, choose waterproof, heavy winter clothing. Remember to wear gloves (not mittens) and a hat. A warm and weatherproof hat is crucial to staying warm and maintaining proper body temperature as heat escapes from the head.

  • Choose shoes with good grip (ideally waterproof boots)

  • Be mindful of over-exertion. Always pay attention to the body and watch for signs of fatigue. 

  • Drink warm fluids like hot coffee, cocoa, tea, or cider

  • Do NOT drink alcohol, which makes the body feel warmer.

  • Take regular breaks. 


What is the Best Cold Weather Gear?

Dressing for winter weather–especially when working outdoors–requires layers of clothing. When temperatures drop below freezing, choose layers to ensure optimal warmth. Waterproof fabrics protect from wet snow and ice; choose coats that offer this protection. 


During the bitter cold days, the best winter cold gear includes:


  • Waterproof gloves (mittens limit finger mobility)

  • Waterproof hat

  • Scarf

  • Heavy winter coat

  • Boots with good grip

  • Heavy socks

  • Lined pants or thermal pants worn beneath standard jeans or workwear


Extreme Cold Weather Clothing

Missouri and the Eureka area sometimes endure temperatures that fall below zero. Wind chills add to the discomfort and create a frigid polar climate in the area. During extremely cold weather, choose heavy insulated clothing–this is the time to zip up in a down parka. Heavy wool sweaters, insulated gloves, and thick winter hats are ideal for protecting the body during the extreme cold. 


When temperatures fall below freezing, only venture outdoors when necessary. Avoid any outdoor tasks and work if possible.


Winter Weather School Bus Stop Safety

Rockwood School District rarely cancels school because of bitterly cold weather, and parents should never assume that freezing temperatures will result in a day off. However, freezing temperatures can be dangerous for young children, especially when waiting outdoors for the bus. 


Winter weather leads to slick and dangerous roads, and sliding cars pose a danger to children waiting on the side of the road for their bus. During snowy or icy weather, encourage children to step further away from the road. Even though the sidewalk might feel safe, a driver can easily lose control of their car if the vehicle begins to slide on the road. 


Appropriate Winter Clothing for the School Bus Stop

Parents must ensure children wear appropriate winter attire when temperatures fall and mornings are bitter cold. Bundle kids in a heavy winter coat, and make sure they wear mittens/gloves and a hat. Many parents also allow their children to wait for the bus in their warm car.


Cold Weather Pet Tips 

Dog breeds handle cold weather differently. Siberian Huskies and Samoyeds originated in areas where cold weather dominated the forecast. However, age, size, and coat color also affect how well a dog tolerates cold. PetMD explains that puppies and senior dogs cannot regulate their body temperature efficiently; smaller dogs and puppies also store heat less efficiently than larger or adult dogs. 


Generally, temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit could pose an issue for some dogs. Coats and sweaters can be used to warm up family and friends; in addition, owners should closely watch their pets when they are outdoors. Ensure dogs have a nice, warm indoor space to keep them safe. 


Know the Signs of Hypothermia

When temperatures drop below freezing, an individual stuck or stranded in a car or outdoors without proper protective clothing can suffer from hypothermia. Frostbite also is a potential risk when skin is exposed to dangerously low temperatures. What are the signs of hypothermia and frostbite? Use our graph to learn how to identify these dangerous winter-related medical issues:

Symptom

Hypothermia

Frostbite

White or gray skin


🥶

Waxy skin


🥶

Numb tingling skin


🥶

Shivering

🆘

🥶

Memory issues

🆘


Sleepiness

🆘


Disorganized ‘slurred’ speech

🆘


Shaky hands

🆘


Don’t Forget to Check the Pipes!

Plumbing is vulnerable during the bitter cold. Frozen pipes that burst lead to a disastrous and expensive mess in the home.


To prevent pipes from freezing, consider:


  • Installing insulation

  • Closing doors (this helps lock in heat)

  • Turning up the heat (keep the indoor temperature around 55 degrees Fahrenheit)

  • Running the water occasionally 


FAQ: Cold Weather Safety


What are the Four P’s of winter safety?

The four P’s to remember for winter safety include people, pets, pipes, and property. Although other sources might denote that the fourth ‘p’ stands for ‘plants,’ not all homeowners worry about their plants. Cars, for many, are valuable personal property.


What is the most common cold weather emergency? 

Frostbite and winter-related falls are among the most common in the area.


What temperature is life-threatening cold?

Hypothermia is defined as a body temperature below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.


What is the coldest month in Missouri?

January is typically Missouri’s coldest month of the year!


What is the coldest temperature recorded in Missouri?

On February 13, 1905, Warsaw, MO, recorded the coldest temperature: -40 degrees Fahrenheit!



About the Author:

Eureka Fire Protection District is an EMS, Fire, and Rescue service provider located in Eureka, Missouri. Staffed with nearly one hundred volunteer and career Paramedics, EMTs, Firefighters, Junior Firefighters, and administrative teams, the department provides its local community with fire prevention, education, safety resources, and emergency relief. Eureka Fire Protection District maintains a reputation as a well-run, high-performing fire department by keeping up to date with the latest in life-saving training and technology.


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