Chief’s Corner: Outdoor winter safety tips
December 18, 2013
EDITOR'S NOTE: "Chief's Corner" is a regular feature in the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza from North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Chief Mike Brown, offering information, tips and education material on fire safety, emergency preparedness and other pertinent topics.
In working with our partners at Southwest Gas, we would like to remind folks about a few energy and cost saving tips as well as some slip and fall safety tips when you're out and about recreating or just doing errands.
• Protect your natural gas meter from the elements and potential snow and ice accumulations and build up. Build or install a structurally engineered shelter over your gas meter. Contact a Southwest gas Energy Specialist at 1-800-654-2765 or click on the company's website for resources on how to build a shelter or for a contractor referral.
• Snow and ice falling from roofs can cause damage that could result in a gas leak, injury or damage, so make sure meters and outdoor appliances are kept clear.
• Use a broom instead of a shovel when clearing your natural gas meters and outdoor appliances.
• Have the furnace inspected by a licensed heating contractor to help ensure its safe and efficient operation. Regularly change the furnace's filters to help improve airflow and efficiency.
• Cut annual heating bills by as much as 10 percent per year by turning back the thermostat 10 to 15 percent for eight hours a day.
• Natural gas appliances require proper exhaust and ventilation. Therefore, it's important to know the location of the air supply and exhaust ducts, and to keep them free of snow, ice, leaves or other debris. Keeping vents clear can prevent operational problems for appliances and the accumulation of carbon monoxide in buildings.
• If you suspect the release of natural gas, leave the area immediately; call 911 from a safe place. For additional cold weather safety information and energy saving tips from Southwest Gas, visit http://www.swgas.com.
SLIP AND FALLS
Slips and falls account for 300,000 serious falls and 20,000 deaths a year. It is important for you and your family to be aware of slip and fall prevention strategies:
• Although your hands may be cold, don't put them in your pockets when you are navigating with any stretches. If you slip, you will need your arms to restore balance. If you fall, your arms will help you to break your fall and land safely.
• When getting in and out of the car, use the Three-Point Rule, always keeping three points in contact with the vehicle, either one hand and two feet, or two feet and one hand. This will provide a firm and secure platform, minimizing the likelihood of falling.
• Wear the proper footwear for proper traction and keeping your feet warm.
• Don't carry large loads while walking on snow or ice. If you can't avoid carrying a large load in an icy area and feel yourself falling, toss your load so that you can break your fall with your arms.
• Take small careful steps and help your elderly friends and relatives on snow and ice. Slips and falls can be extremely dangerous for seniors. If you are older, don't shy away from asking others for a helping hand.
• Use snow and ice melt in heavy foot traffic areas.
• When you're traveling in the car, it's always a good idea to have an extra blanket, food and water with you. And always remember to tell a family member or friend the details of your travel plan – where you're going and how you can be reached.