Snow--it's on the way!
Your Patient-Centered Medical Home team members are here in our award-winning facility ready to help whenever you need us. We care about your safety, so make sure you're prepared for the coming winter months.

Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. -- You can avoid visiting our award-winning hospital and your Patient-Centered Medical Home team members here this winter by taking a few preventive steps to head off potential disaster.

Did you know that December, January and February are the leading months for home fires caused by heating equipment usage?

Each year over hundreds of people die from hypothermia, (low body temperature) caused by extended exposure to cold temperatures both indoors and out.

We care about your safety, so here are some safety tips for the coming winter months and Holiday season:

Keeping Your Home Safe and Warm

• Test your smoke alarms monthly, change the battery once a year
• Install a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm near your bedrooms and on each floor of your house
• Heating equipment installed properly
• Keep portable heaters at least 3 feet from anything than can burn
• Keep children and pets away from the space heaters
• Never leave children in a room alone when a space heater is in use
• Use recommended fuel for kerosene heater, follow instructions when refueling the kerosene heater
• Keep a door open to the rest of the house or open the window slightly when using a kerosene heater reducing the chance of carbon monoxide build-up in the room
• Inspect fireplace chimney and flue each year and clean as needed
• For a wood-burning stove, check each year the chimney connection and flue
• NEVER use your range or oven to heat your home

Surviving a Winter Storm

• Before a storm hits make sure you have a way to heat your home during power failure
• Keep a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher nearby when using alternative heating sources
• Keep on hand extra blankets, flashlights with extra batteries, matches, a first aid kit, manual can opener, snow shovel and rock salt and special needs items (i.e. diapers, medicines)
• Stock up on a few days' supply of water, required medications, and food that does not need to be refrigerated or cooked
• Keep an eye on the temperature of your home. Infants and persons over age 65 are susceptible to cold. Possibly stay with friends or family or in a shelter if you cannot keep your house warm enough
• Dress in several layers to maintain body heat, covering up with blankets if necessary

Clearing Snow and Ice

• Dress warmly, paying special attention to feet, hands, nose and ears
• Avoid shoveling if out of shape or heart trouble unless your doctor says you are permitted to do so
• Warm-up before shoveling, take frequent breaks
• Push the snow in front of you, if possible. If lifting the snow pick up small amounts and lift with legs, not your back
• Use rock salt or de-icing compounds to remove ice from steps, walkways and sidewalks; sand can be used for traction as well
• When using a snow blower follow the manual on safety and make sure you understand the safety tips

Driving Safely in Winter Weather

Here are some recommended items to have available in case of an emergency situation happens:
• Keep emergency gear in your car for everyday trips
• Cell phone
• Flashlight
• Jumper cables
• Sand or kitty litter (for traction)
• Blankets
• Warning devices (i.e. flares, reflectors)
• Ice scraper, snowbrush and small shovel
• For long trips keep food, water, extra blankets and required medication on hand
• Avoid driving in snow or ice storms if possible. Drive slowly if you must go out
• Make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow before starting the car
• Do not sit in a parked car if the engine is running unless a window is open; do not let your car run inside a closed garage
• If your car is stuck or stalled, use the emergency flares and place one at each end of the car, a safe distance away. Stay inside your vehicle and open a window slightly to let in fresh air. Wrap yourself in blankets and run your vehicle heater for a few minutes every hour to keep warm.

Walking In a Winter Wonderland

• Dress warm and wear boots with nonskid soles
• Wear a bright scarf, hat or reflective gear so drivers can see you
• Walk on sidewalks if possible
• If sidewalks are not cleared of snow or ice walk on the side of the street against the flow of traffic and close to the curb
• Do not wear a hat or scarf that blocks your vision or difficultly in hearing the traffic
• When traveling with babies or small children, dress them in bright or reflective clothing
• Always keep children--whether in a stroller or on foot--in front of you and as close to the curb as possible
• Before you step off the curb, make sure oncoming cars and trucks have come to a complete stop
• Always pay attention in parking lots for distracted drivers, and any hazards like snow drifts or black ice in the parking lots

Preparation and planning are some of the keys to a safe winter and holiday season. Plan and prepare to enjoy this season safely!

(Editor's Note: James Shultz is a safety officer at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital)

Page last updated Tue December 3rd, 2013 at 00:00