The sun is finally shining over Birmingham today. Hurray! While it will hopefully melt all the ice that accumulated during the hard freeze that took place across the city and surrounding areas last night, the air is still frigid outside and ice still remains. To stay safe and warm during, yet another, Birmingham cold snap, check out these icy weather tips.
Use caution when using space heaters. If you use a space heater, be sure to use caution. According to Consumer Reports, half of all home heating fires happen during the winter months of December, January and February.
To avoid dangerous mishaps when using space heaters:
- Place your heater on a hard, level and nonflammable surface. (Remember, they are intended to sit on the floor, not on a table.)
- Establish a 30-foot kid- and pet-free zone around your heater, and never put a space heater in a child’s room.
- Keep your space heater at least three feet away from combustible materials, such as furniture, bedding and curtains.
- Don’t use a heater in a workshop or garage near paint, gas cans or matches.
- Turn your heater off when you leave the room or go to bed.
- Unplug your heaters when it is not in use. Periodically check the cord for damage, and don’t use it if it’s frayed or worn.
- Don’t plug another electrical device or an extension cord into the same outlet as a heater. This can cause overheating.
- Install working smoke alarms on every level of your home, and test them monthly.
Take care of your pets. If it’s too cold for you outside, then it’s too cold for your pet. So be sure to bring your furry friends indoors on bitter cold days. If they are unable to come inside, be sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and are able to get to unfrozen water.
Protect your pipes. Freezing temperatures can lead to frozen pipes and an inability to get running water. To keep your pipes from freezing, run the faucets at a low level.
Avoid fires. Space heaters and fireplaces are great for warmth, but they can be very dangerous if not used properly. To avoid potential fires, turn off space heater and ensure fireplace embers are completely out before leaving the room or going to bed.
Don’t use your kitchen as a heater. It can be tempting to use appliances in your kitchen, like a stove or oven, to help heat your home during winter. But this can lead to dangerous outcomes, like fires or carbon monoxide poisoning.
While it is best to stay indoors during times of low temperatures and icy, snowy conditions, it’s not always possible. If you must go outdoors, follows these safety tips:
- Wear layered clothing, mittens or gloves, and a hat. Mittens or gloves and a hat will help prevent the loss of body heat. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellant. Shoes should have non-slip soles.
- Protect your lungs from severely cold air by covering your mouth. It is also beneficial to avoid taking deep breaths and minimize talking.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite (in both you and your pets). If you notice signs of either of these conditions, contact emergency help.
- Stay dry. If your clothes get wet from ice and snow, be sure to change into dry clothes to prevent a loss of body heat.
- Avoid overexertion – shoveling heavy snow, pushing a stranded vehicle or walking in deep snow. Strain from the cold and hard labor increase the risk of a heart attack. Sweating can also lead to a chill and hypothermia.
- Stretch before going outdoors to shovel snow. This will help warm up your body and reduce the risk of muscle injury.
Icy, snowy roads spell disaster for vehicles. But if you absolutely have to venture onto the roads during these conditions, be sure to follow these safety tips:
Slow down. Speeding on icy, snowy roads is very dangerous. Not only does it increase the risk that you will lose control of your vehicle, but it also makes it much harder to stop. This is why slowing down is the most important thing to do when driving in ice and snow.
If you notice your vehicle fishtailing or sliding at all, it means you are driving too fast for the condition of the road, so slow down.
- No driver or vehicle is immune to losing control on icy roads.
- Crashes are common with SUVS and vehicles with AWD, 4WD, stability control and winter tires.
Wear your seatbelt. Wearing your seatbelt should be a no-brainer, but when driving on icy, snowy roads, it is even more critical to your safety. So buckle up. No excuses!
Avoid excessive braking. When you want your vehicle to stop, your initial instinct is typically to hit the brakes. But in icy conditions, brake application can result in a loss of vehicle control. Antilock brakes do not do well on ice and snow, and often lock up your wheels. So go easy on the brakes. Driving slowly will also help reduce the need to brake.
Avoid hills or dangerous roads. If hills or dangerous roads are on your driving route during icy conditions, it’s a good idea to figure out how to avoid them. By finding an alternate path to your destination, you will decrease your risk of a potentially serious accident.
When driving in dangerous weather conditions, it is also important to ensure your vehicle is stocked with an emergency supply kit in case you get stranded. (Don’t forget Snowmageddon 2014, folks!) It should include:
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Rain gear, extra sets of dry clothes, mittens, socks and hats
- Newspaper for insulation
- Plastic bags for sanitation
- Canned fruit, nuts and high-energy snacks
- Several bottles of water
- Extra cell phone (charged)
Also, let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive. This way, if your vehicle gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
Temperatures are supposed to drop into the teens tonight, and luckily the City of Birmingham is taking action. For anyone in need of shelter, Boutwell Auditorium will be open tonight from 5:00p.m.-9:00a.m.
1930 8th Ave N., Birmingham, AL 35203
How is the weather where you are? Let us know of specific areas to be aware of!