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Winter Safety

Here are a few quick tips to help keep you safe, whether you're sitting around the fireplace with your family or traveling across town or across the country.  From all of us at Columbus Township Fire & Rescue, happy (and safe) holidays!

Blizzard and Freezing Temperature Preparedness

  • Ensure you have plenty of food and water on hand
  • Keep basic first aid and medical supplies on hand
  • Have warm clothes, blankets, and an emergency heat source available
  • If using a space heater, fireplace or wood stove, follow the guidelines below
  • Avoid traveling if at all possible
  • If you absolutely must travel, follow the guidelines below
  • Let a small (pencil-lead thin) stream of water run from your faucet, especially the ones furthest from the source or near an outside wall
  • Don't over-exert yourself outside, such as when shoveling snow

Driving in Winter Weather

Information provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

  • Maintain your vehicle properly, and ensure fluid levels are adequate - especially antifreeze and and windshield washer fluid
  • Keep the following in the vehicle: cell phone, flashlight, jumper cables, shovel, ice scraper, boots, gloves, and blankets (NOTE: A deactivated cell phone with no service can still make a 9-1-1 call)
  • If you get stuck: stay calmstay with your vehicle, don't overexert yourself, turn on your emergency flashers or other warning devices, run the car just enough to stay warm (ensure the exhaust pipe is clear)
  • Let someone else know your route and what time you expect to arrive at your destination so they can check in with you
  • Practice cold-weather driving in a controlled environment - know how your vehicle will respond to braking on ice/snow, remember that stopping distances are longer in slippery conditions, and always steer into a skid (but avoid over-correcting)
  • Give snow plows plenty of room, and don't pass them
  • Do not use cruise-control on snowy or icy roads
  • Don't idle the vehicle for a long period of time with the windows up or in an enclosed space
  • Always wear your seatbelt, maintain an adequate following distance from the vehicle in front of you, and NEVER drink and drive

For more tips on how to prepare for cold-weather driving trips, take a look at the official OSHA publication.

Furnaces, Fireplaces & Wood Stoves

Information provided by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA)

  • Keep all combustible objects at least 3 feet away from furnaces, fireplaces and wood stoves
  • Have the chimney professionally cleaned and inspected annually
  • Do not use flammable liquids or excessive amounts of paper to start or accelerate a fire
  • Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening
  • NEVER burn charcoal indoors - it can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide (CO)
  • NEVER close the damper while hot ashes are in the fireplace - they can heat up again and force toxic carbon monoxide into the house
  • Before you go to sleep or leave the house, make sure the fire in the fireplace is completely out
  • Have a smoke alarm on every level of your home, and check it on a monthly basis!

For more tips on how to prevent heater-related fires and what to do in case a fire starts in your home, visit the U.S. Fire Administration's website at www.usfa.fema.gov