In recognition of Winter Weather Preparedness Week, which runs from Dec. 6-12 in North Carolina, Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, who is also the State Fire Marshal, urges families to make preparations now for potentially dangerous weather this winter.
“Winter is a time that brings families together in celebration of the holidays. But that also means more cooking, more traveling and more risk of fire and other accidents,” said Commissioner Causey. “This winter, it is so important for families to keep safety in mind.”
Winter weather can bring a combination of potentially life-threatening conditions including sleet, snow and ice that can cause road conditions to quickly deteriorate. Since road injuries are the leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries to children in North Carolina, Commissioner Causey, who is also Chair of Safe Kids North Carolina, offers some simple travel tips to help 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.
- Increase your following distance so that you’ll have plenty of time to stop for vehicles ahead of you.
- 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 wants to remind 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.
During the winter season, staying warm and safe 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. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating is the leading cause of fires in U.S. homes.
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.
To learn more about fire and holiday safety, visit the OSFM website.