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For Release: Dec. 29, 2009
Contact:  Pamela Williams
Office of Communications 
(405) 271-5601

Winter Weather Safety

With the continued melting and refreezing of snow from last week’s winter storm, ice remains a major hazard for Oklahomans in many parts of the state. During the ice storm of January 2007, more than 6,000 persons with storm-related injuries were treated at a hospital. Slipping or falling on ice accounted for approximately 75 percent of injuries, motor vehicle crashes accounted for 13 percent, and 8 percent were due to sledding injuries. About half of the injuries occurred at a home or on a farm, and 34 percent on a roadway. In addition, 66 persons were treated for carbon monoxide exposure. There were 44 injury deaths associated with the winter storm; approximately half were due to motor vehicle crashes, one-fourth were a result of falls, and 15 percent were associated with hypothermia.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) would like you and your family to be safe by planning ahead and following these safety precautions for extreme cold weather:

Prepare your home:

  1. Listen to weather forecasts regularly for predicted cold weather conditions.
  2. Install smoke alarms and battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors in the home. Test detectors at least once a month to make sure they are working correctly.
  3. Have chimneys and flues inspected at least once a year.
  4. When using fireplaces, space heaters, or other heating devices, follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and make sure they are properly vented to the outside.
  5. Do not use generators, charcoal grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline/charcoal-burning devices inside the home, basement, or garage; and do not use gas ovens or stoves to heat the home.
  6. Use battery powered flashlights or lanterns to light the home instead of candles. If candles are used, never leave them unattended and supervise children around open flames.

Prepare your car:

  1. Have regular maintenance service on your vehicle as recommended by the manufacturer.
  2. Check the antifreeze levels and replace windshield-wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture.
  3. Replace worn tires and check air pressure of tires regularly.
  4. Keep gas tank near full to help avoid ice forming in the tank and fuel lines.
  5. Keep winter emergency supplies in your vehicle (blankets, first aid kit, flashlight, etc).
  6. Do not leave motor vehicles running inside a garage attached to the home, even if the garage door is open.
  7. If you become stranded in your car, periodically run the engine to keep the inside of the car warm.  However, make sure to crack open the windows while the engine is running to avoid possible carbon monoxide poisoning.

Additional safety precautions:

  1. Gather emergency supplies for communication, food, safety, heating, and vehicle travel.
  2. Dress warmly and stay dry when going outdoors.
  3. Avoid walking on ice and be cautious when traveling on icy roads. If you must travel, let someone know your destination, when you expect to arrive at your destination, and when you return home.
  4. Always fasten seat belts while driving or riding in a motor vehicle.  Always buckle your child in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt according to the child's age, weight, and height.
  5. Make sure you let others know of your travel plans, routes you plan to take, and estimated times of departure and arrival. 

Additional winter weather health and safety information can be found on these Web sites: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter and http://www.cdc.gov/family/holiday/.



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