Play it safe this winter

Natalie Netzel Staff Writer

January 3, 2014

Natalie Netzel

Staff Writer

NEWBERRY — Newberry doesn’t have the extreme winter like the northeastern part of the country but residents still need to know about safety especially with heaters, candles, proper winter wear for children and what can happen if power does go out.

About 67 percent of winter fires occur in one and two-family homes and 5-8 p.m. is the most common time for winter home fires, according to the National Fire Incident Reporting System for 2009-2011. Also, $2,091,000,000 in property loss occurs from winter home fires.

When it comes to heaters, the U.S. Fire Administration offers these recommendations for safe heater uses:

— Alternative heaters need their space. Make sure to keep anything that can catch fire at least three feet away.

— Make sure your alternative heaters have ‘tip switches.’ These ‘tip switches’ are designed to automatically turn off the heater in the event they tip over.

— Kerosene heaters may not be legal in your area and should only be used where approved by authorities.

— Only use the type of fuel recommended by the manufacturer and follow suggested guidelines.

— Never refill a space heater while it is operating or still hot. Refuel heaters only outdoors.

— Make sure wood stoves are properly installed, and at least three feet away from anything that can catch fire. Ensure they have the proper floor support and adequate ventilation.

— Use a glass or metal screen in front of your fireplace to prevent sparks from igniting nearby carpets, furniture or other items that can catch fire.

— Do not use the kitchen oven to heat the house. In addition to being a fire hazard, it can be a source of toxic fumes.

— Always use a flashlight – not a candle – for emergency lighting.

As for generators, FEMA says to follow manufacturer’s instructions and use a generator or other fuel powered machine outside the home. Also, never connect generators to another power source such as power lines because the back feed can electrocute a utility worker.

It’s also not a bad idea to check smoke detectors and make sure they are properly working.

Although severe winter storms do not normally plague the southern area, it’s still important to be prepared just in case.

There are differences between a winter storm outlook, winter weather advisory, winter storm watch and winter storm warning.

A winter storm outlook conditions are possible in the next two to five days. A winter storm watch conditions are possible within the next 36-48 hours. A winter weather advisory occurs when conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. A winter storm warning is life threatening and conditions have begun or will begun in 24 hours.

The Red Cross urges people to have the following supplies in case of a cold related emergency:

At least a three day supply of water; one gallon per person per day and non perishable food, flashlight, battery powered radio, extra batteries, first aid kit, medications and medical items, a multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items, copies of personal documents, cell phone with chargers, family and emergency contact information, cash, baby supplies if needed, pet supplies if needed, tools for securing the home, sand rock sale or kitty litter for non-slippery walkways, warm clothes and accessories, alternate heating.

The Red Cross also offers these tips for winter safety:

— Go to a designated public shelter if the home loses power.

— Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain, snow or dense fog.

— When tackling strenuous tasks, consider the physical conditions.

— Protect oneself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose fitting lightweight clothing.

— Help people with special assistance, the handicapped or children.

— Check on animals.

Keeping children warm

Winter weather doesn’t have to be severe when trying to decide how to dress children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips for keeping children warm:

— Dress infants and children warmly for outdoor activities. Several thin layers will keep them dry and warm. Don’t forget warm boots, gloves or mittens and a hat.

— The rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions.

— Blankets, quilts, pillows, bumpers, sheepskins and other loose bedding may contribute to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and should be kept out of an infant’s sleeping environment. Sleep clothing like one-piece sleepers or wearable blankets is preferred.

— If a blanket must be used to keep a sleeping infant warm, it should be tucked in around the crib mattress, reaching only as far as your baby’s chest, so the infant’s face is less likely to become covered by bedding materials

Many pediatricians feel that bathing two or three times a week is enough for an infant’s first year. More frequent baths may dry out the skin, especially during the winter.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also said that cold weather is not a cause of colds or flus but these viruses do tend to be more common in winter. Frequent hand washing and teaching your child to sneeze or cough into the bend of her elbow may help reduce the spread of colds and flu.

If your child suffers from winter nosebleeds, try using a cold air humidifier in the child’s room at night. Saline nose drops or petrolatum may help keep nasal tissues moist. If bleeding is severe or recurrent, consult your pediatrician.