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Don’t be left out in the cold this winter

Published in General, For the Health of It Author: Melissa Hjelle, Injury Prevention Specialist

Half of my lifetime thus far had been spent living in southern California and one thing I’ve learned living here in Minnesota is true appreciation for the changing of seasons. I am planning for the holiday season, the New Year and deciding what fun things I can do to make winter enjoyable.

However, moving to Minnesota I quickly learned that with the season changes (especially winter) we must be proactively prepared. Don’t be ill-prepared and end up with frostbite like me; you can only imagine the things I thought I knew that first winter. I quickly adapted to become what I call “Minnesota Smart,” but each year I still look at my checklist(s) to make sure I don’t make a rookie mistake again! Enjoy your winter and be safe. Here are some great tips for your home and car during the Minnesota winter months.

Home checklist

  • Turning on the stove for heat is not safe; have at least one of the following heat sources in case the power goes out:
  1. Extra blankets, sleeping bags, and warm winter coats
  2. Fireplace with plenty of dry firewood or a gas log fireplace
  3. Portable space heaters or kerosene heaters
  • Check with your local fire department to make sure that kerosene heaters are legal in your area.
  • Use electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements.
  • Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.
  • Never leave children unattended near a space heater.
  • Keep heat sources at least three feet away from furniture and drapes.
  • Have the following safety equipment:
  1. Chemical fire extinguisher
  2. Smoke alarm in working order (Check prior to winter storm season and change batteries, if needed.)
  3. Carbon monoxide detector (Check prior to winter storm season and change batteries, if needed.)
  • Never use an electric generator indoors, inside the garage, or near the air intake of your home because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Do not use the generator or appliances if they are wet.
  • Do not store gasoline indoors where the fumes could ignite.
  • Use individual heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords to plug in other appliances.

Car checklist

  • Cell phone, portable charger, and extra batteries
  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper
  • Battery-powered radio with extra batteries
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Water
  • Snack food
  • Extra hats, coats, and mittens
  • Blankets
  • Chains or rope
  • Tire chains
  • Canned compressed air with sealant for emergency tire repair
  • Road salt and sand
  • Booster cables
  • Emergency flares
  • Bright colored flag or help signs
  • First aid kit
  • Tool kit
  • Road maps
  • Compass
  • Waterproof matches and a can to melt snow for water
  • Paper towels

Learn more ways to be ready for winter.