Get Healthy Carson City: Winter safety tips for frigid temperatures

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This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Tuesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.

Although winter comes as no surprise, many of us are not ready for its arrival. If you prepare for the hazards of winter now, you will be more likely to stay safe and healthy when temperatures start to fall.

Home Safety

Many people prefer to remain indoors in the winter, but staying inside is no guarantee of safety. Take these steps to keep your home safe and warm during the winter months.

Winterize your home by installing weather stripping around door jambs and storm windows. Insulate water lines that run along exterior walls. Have your heating system serviced professionally to make sure that it is clean, working properly, and ventilated to the outside. Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys.

To prevent carbon monoxide (CO) emergencies, you should install a CO detector to alert you of the presence of this deadly, odorless, and colorless gas. Check batteries of your CO detector when you change your clocks each fall and spring. Learn the symptoms of CO poisoning which include headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. If your CO detector makes a loud sound, get outside immediately!

Travel Safety

Most of us rely heavily on our cars to get us to work, school, and around town. It is important, however, to get your car ready for cold weather use before winter arrives. Have the radiator serviced and maintain the antifreeze level. Be sure to check the tread on your tires, and if necessary, replace tires with all-weather or snow tires. You should also use a wintertime formula for your windshield wiper fluid and keep your gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank or fuel lines.

When making travel plans, be aware of current and forecast weather conditions. Avoid traveling when the weather service has issued travel advisories. If you must travel, inform a friend or relative of your proposed route and expected time of travel. If you become stranded in your car, follow these safety rules:

Stay with your car unless safety is no more than 100 yards away, but continue to move arms and legs.

Stay visible by putting a bright cloth on the antenna, turning on the inside overhead light (when engine is running), and raising the hood when snow stops falling.

Run the engine and heater only 10 minutes every hour. Make sure the tailpipe is not blocked.

Whether traveling around town or far away, prepare an emergency kit to keep in your car in case you become stranded. The kit should include a cell phone, portable phone charger, blankets, food and water, booster cables, flares, tire pump, a bag of sand or cat litter (for traction), flashlight, battery-powered radio with extra batteries, first-aid kit, and plastic bags (for sanitation). This is a good kit to keep in your car regardless of the season.

Winter Ready

While no one can stop winter from coming, following these suggestions will help you be ready for the season when it does arrive. Be sure to check on your family and neighbors as well to help them get ready for the cold. Some groups, especially young children, older adults, and the chronically ill are at greater risk from cold weather hazards. Do not forget your furry friends either. If you have pets, bring them inside. If you cannot bring them inside, be sure to provide them with adequate, warm shelter and unfrozen water to drink.

Carson City Health and Human Services wants you to be ready for winter! For information on Health Department programs and services, check out our website at or “Like” us on Facebook at


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