With the winter season upon us, now is the time to prepare for the cold temperatures and unpredictable winter storms. The Dennis Police Department Emergency Management Division would like to share the following tips and information so that you will be prepared for another New England winter. Check back with us for monthly updates.
View the FEMA website for a guide from FEMA on how to prepare for a winter storm.
View the Make a Family Emergency website to see suggestions from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency for making a family emergency preparedness plan.
Avoid These Winter Weather Mistakes
As winter weather sets in, you may have to take extra precautions to keep your family safe or to prevent property damage. The Weather Channel highlights 22 things to avoid as you prepare for winter, including:
Failing to Clean the Gutters Before Freezing Weather Arrives. Cleaning gutters is important when protecting and preparing your home for the winter months. Gutters help keep icicles from forming along the roofline. Icicles may damage shingles, which can cause water to leak into your home.
Going to Bed Before Heating Sources Have Cooled. Before you go to bed or leave the house, ensure that space heaters have cooled and are powered off. If you have built a fire in the fireplace, be sure that the embers are no longer burning.
Forgetting to Develop a Fire Escape Plan. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the risk of home fires increases with the use of alternative heating sources, so it's important to develop and rehearse an escape plan.
To see the full list of winter weather don'ts, visit the Weather Channel website.
The official start of winter begins December 21, but some parts of the country are already experiencing severe winter weather. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), serious health problems can result from prolonged exposure to the cold. One of the most common problems is frostbite.
Frostbite is an injury to the body caused by freezing, and most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Signs of frostbite include:
- White or grayish-yellow skin area
- Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care immediately or call 911. If medical care is not available, follow these important tips from the CDC, including:
- Get into a warm room as soon as possible
- Do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes, unless necessary. Doing so can increase the damage
- Immerse the affected area in warm water
For more information about frostbite and how to prevent it, check out this video from the National Weather Service.
View the CDC Signs of Frostbite website.
View the CDC Winter Weather website.
A Winter Ready Home
You might wear gloves and a hat to protect yourself from cold temperatures outside, but did you know that your home needs protection, too?
With the proper maintenance, you can prepare your home for the winter season and reduce heat loss during a power outage.
Follow these tips from America's PrepareAthon!, including:
- Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of your roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow or ice
- Insulate pipes with insulation or newspaper and plastic
- Allow faucets to drip during cold weather to avoid freezing
- Have a professional inspect your chimney or heating equipment
For added warmth, you may choose to use indoor space heaters. If you purchase a space heater, look for one that has an automatic shut-off or tip-over switch. Place the heater on a level surface away from high-traffic areas and flammable items such as curtains, bedding, or furniture. Make sure the room has enough ventilation to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
View the CDC Carbon Monoxide Poisoning website.
Winter Care for Pets
Winter weather can be dangerous not only for humans, but for pets too! Taking extra precautions throughout the season can ensure your pets stay healthy and happy. The Humane Society of the Unites States offers tips to keep pets safe, including:
- Protect paws from salt. This and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet's feet. Be sure to wipe off their paws with a damp towel
- Keep pets warm and indoors. No matter the temperature, windchill can threaten a pet's life. Pets are sensitive to severe cold and are at risk for frostbite when outdoors during extreme cold snaps
- Avoid antifreeze poisoning. Antifreeze has a sweet taste that may attract animals but is a deadly poison. Don't allow pets to wander unattended near driveways, garages or other places when they may come into contact with antifreeze
It only takes a few tablespoons of highly toxic antifreeze to injure your pet. Learn the signs of antifreeze poisoning.