This is Winter Weather Preparedness Week (Dec. 4-10) in North Carolina, and Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey wants to make sure families prepare now for potentially dangerous weather this winter.
“When it comes to winter weather in North Carolina, we hope for the best, but we have to prepare for the worst,” said Commissioner Causey, who is also the State Fire Marshal. “Winter weather can cause a lot of problems on the roads and create a lot of fire hazards at home. All families need to prepare by creating an emergency plan and building an emergency preparedness kit.”
If you must travel during winter weather, Commissioner Causey reminds drivers to leave extra stopping distance between other vehicles. Winter weather can bring a combination of potentially life-threatening conditions including sleet, snow and ice that can cause road conditions to quickly deteriorate. If driving during slippery conditions, slow down and use extra caution. Commissioner Causey offers these travel tips to keep the holiday fun and injury free:
- Drive slowly. It’s harder to control or stop your vehicle on an ice or snow-covered roadway.
- Use an ice scraper to remove ice from your windshield before driving.
- Increase your following distance so that you’ll have plenty of time to stop for vehicles ahead of you.
- Keep an emergency preparedness kit in your car in case you get stuck in a winter weather situation on the road.
- Always wear your seat belt and ensure that everyone else in your vehicle is buckled up.
- Know whether your vehicle has an anti-lock brake system. Anti-lock brake systems prevent your wheels from locking up during braking. If you have anti-lock brakes, apply firm, continuous pressure to the brake pedal. If you don’t have anti-lock brakes, you may need to pump the brakes if your wheels start to lock up.
- Check your car seat before holiday travel.
- Use booster seats.
- Bulky coats and car seats don’t mix.
Weather in North Carolina can be very unpredictable, especially during the winter months. In the event of snowy or icy conditions, Commissioner Causey also reminds the public about the seriousness of falls and ways to reduce fall risk.
According to estimates by the North Carolina Injury and Violence Prevention Branch of the North Carolina Division of Public Health, falls are the leading cause of injury-related emergency department visits for older adults and are responsible for more than half of fatal head injuries.
Please remember these steps to reduce falls:
- Take your time. Get up slowly and get your balance before walking.
- Keep stairs and walking areas free of clutter.
- Use non-slip mats on your bathroom floor and showers.
- Be aware of uneven surfaces like rugs and uneven sidewalks.
- Be careful on stairs. Use the handrails and make sure they are well lit.
Staying warm safely can be a challenge. Each year during the winter months, there is an increase in the number of home fires related to the various forms of heating.
Please remember these tips to prevent house fires:
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment.
- Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
For more winter weather and holiday safety information, visit the OSFM website.