Winter can be dangerous, even for the most seasoned Iowans. Sixteen-year Robbin’s Fire Department veteran and AEMT Jason Alt discussed how to mitigate these dangers for both long term Midwesterners and guests from out of state and country.
Alt advocated for wearing as many layers as necessary for the cold to block skin from having open contact with the air. This can help prevent frostbite and hypothermia, which can occur in minutes on the coldest Iowa days.
Driving can be especially dangerous in winter regardless of one’s experience behind the wheel. Alt advised keeping track of one’s whereabouts and location while on the road in case it becomes necessary to contact emergency services. Keeping track of mile markers and street signs is going to help emergency services reach emergencies far more accurately than trying to ping a location from cell towers.
He also spoke about the importance of students having a safety kit in the car. At minimum this kit should include an emergency blanket and light source to be kept within reach from the driver and passenger seats. Leaving these items in the trunk can leave a person in trouble in the event of an accident or mechanical issue.
Also, have some energy dense food in this kit in case an extended time passes while waiting for help.
Alt added that in the event one comes across a stranded motorist or accident in dangerous conditions it is recommended to note the location of the incident and proceed to a safe location to pull over and notify 911. He said do not attempt to stop and provide assistance as this can pose additional dangers, especially on roads with speed limits exceeding 55 mph.
For home safety, Alt noted another important tip is to make sure to have functioning carbon monoxide detectors and fire alarms. If students ever suspect a carbon monoxide leak, don’t hesitate to call 911 and vacate the premises immediately.
He added to follow manufacturer’s instructions for relighting a pilot light should it happen to go out and if feeling unsure about doing so, call the gas company.
Finally, if students plan to use a space heater, they should make sure to put it on a flat, hard surface away from pets and carpet. And, turn a space heater off before going to sleep.
Students should also use UL approved devices to help minimize the risk of an electrical fire and check the device either on the case, cord or in the owner’s manual to ensure your device falls within these guidelines.
Winter Safety Checklist
- Boots, hat, gloves, scarf and layers
- Emergency car kit
- Working carbon monoxide detectors and fire alarms
- Check space heater for safety