Thursday, 1 March 2018

Stay safe in the snow!

snow, safety, family health, health advice
School's out for winter...!
The school is shut and your work train is cancelled - so there's big cheers all around as friends and family declare a 'snow day'. But as well as being lots of fun, dipping temperates, snow and ice can present challenges too - and be dangerous to the elderly, those that are pregnant and newborn to school age children. Follow our tops tips to enjoy the snow without falling foul of the wintery weather.

A warm home

One of the most important things to remember when it's cold outside is to keep your house at the right temperature - the NHS advises that to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), babies should sleep in rooms heated to between 16℃ and 20℃. Ahead of the winter it's always worth bleeding radiators and checking your insulation is still up to scratch. But on a day-to-day basis you can make the most of the heat you have by closing curtains at dusk - and open them in sunshine. If you've had the oven on - leave the door open when you're finished. Draught excluders by the door and rugs on colder wooden floors also help, and if you have a chimney that's not in use, use a device to block up the gap.

Hopefully you've been able to service your boiler and ensure your heating system can be relied on in a cold snap - but should the worst happen, while you wait for the plumber try not to sit still for more than an hour or so, moving about will keep you warm. A hot drink or  hot meal will also help arm you up - and a hot water bottle or an electric blanket at night will keep out the chill.

Dress to impress

health advice, snow, cold weather, cats
Make sure you're wearing
the right kind of coat!
Several layers of closing will keep you warmer than one thick one (because they each trap a layer of air!). Cotton, wool or fleece are the warmest. And don't forget your legs are as important as your upper body - why wear 3 tops but just one layer further down? If you're like me, my coat ends mid thigh anyway - so a base layer or leggings under your jeans or trousers will keep you warmer. Likewise wear two pairs of socks on your feet - the first layer should be moisture-wicking - then another warmer layer over that. Tucking your trousers into your socks will also prevent cold air creeping up your body.

When you're outside - wear a hat - as any exposed skin loses heat quickly. Likewise gloves are essential as fingers and hands are vulnerable to the cold. Keeping dry is important too. Being wet will cause chill to set in more quickly than if you're dry. Have waterproof or at least water resistant outer layers. Try not to sit on cold surfaces when you are out too - a cold park bench for example will 'conduct' the temperature to your booty! Wrap a scarf loosely around your mouth when outdoors – and wear shoes with a good grip, too. But remember,  if you have a heart or respiratory problem, stay indoors during very cold weather.

Driving in bad weather

Driving in snow, winter weather, health tips
De-ice and clear your car
BEFORE you start your journey.
If you need to go out in your car, make like a Scout and be prepared. Ahead of time check weather conditions and your route. And when you're told to only make essential trips - listen! Allow extra time for journeys in ice and snow - because traffic will be moving slower and the last thing you need is to be in a panic and trying to speed up. Carry out some practical checks on your vehicle before you leave - including making sure the wipers and tyres are up to scratch and the screen wash is full. Inside your car make sure you have an 'emergency' kit - with a torch, spare clothes and blankets, high-vis outfits in case you need to abandon your car and walk along the road, a shovel, your phone charger, ice scraper, jump leads, a first aid kit, water and ideally a hot drink in a flash plus some food, a warning triangle and even a piece of old carpet to use if your wheels get stuck. Bear in mind you might end up walking instead - or have to wait for a period of time inside your car - so dress appropriately even if you just popped out!

When it comes to driving, the advice is to accelerate gently, use low revs and change up to a higher gear as quickly as possible. When moving off, use second gear to reduce wheel slip (maybe your car already has this function? Check the handbook). Leave plenty of stopping distance between you and the car in front, particularly if you're going uphill - as ideally you want to maintain a constant speed without the need for changing gear. When going downhill use a low gear and avoid using the brakes - again leave plenty of room between you and any vehicle in front. Brake before you get to a bend, and if you slip, take your foot off the accelerator - don't stamp on the brakes, keep your hands on the wheel and steer in the direction the car is sliding. 

Ensure your dipped headlights are on in heavy snow (double-check that yours are on if they are automatic, as snowy conditions might not always activate them). Fog lights should be on only when visibility is below 100m. And finally avoid the wheel tracks of there vehicles on un-gritted roads - it's more likely to be icy.

Take care and have fun!


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