Missouri Department of Public Safety Fire Department

Missouri Department of Public Safety Fire Department

Narrated article: Winter tips to stay safe and warm

This month for Innovation in Focus we tested various tools and platforms to provide narration for articles to make them more accessible.

Listen to this article narrated: https://soundcloud.com/pili-swanson/narrated-article

Here are some tips to staying healthy, safe and warm this winter season as the temperatures begin to drop.

The CDC has COVID-19 tips for holiday gatherings, Boone County has tips for winter weather and the Columbia Fire Department has guidelines for safe home heating.

Due to the holiday nature of December, the CDC has some guidelines in regards to hosting gatherings. They include: having outdoor activities, having people only from your household in attendance, listing the allowed number of attendees, requiring the usage of masks, having hand sanitizer available and bringing tissues.

After attending a gathering, the CDC recommends people to stay at home as much as possible and if showing any symptoms of COVID-19, to get tested and quartinine the full 14 days even if your test is negative.

With holidays comes the possibility for travelling. The CDC has safe travel guidelines that include: wearing a mask in public settings, staying six-feet away from anyone not in your immediate household, washing hands often, avoiding contact with anyone who is sick and avoiding touching ones eyes, nose and mouth.

Stop the spread

The CDC also recommends obtaining a flu vaccine as soon as possible, since flu season peaks between December and February. 

Boone county has several tips for the community to stay safe and prepared for winter storms. Winter storms can bring loss of heat, electricity, telephone services and potential supply shortages.

To stay prepared consider having these supplies at home, work and in cars; a flashlight, extra batteries, a battery powered radio, a first aid kit, food and water supplies, extra medicine and having an emergency heating source such as a fireplace, woodstove or space heater. 

Other tips to keep in mind when it comes to cars, is making sure the gas tank is almost always near full and to fully check and “winterize” the vehicle. Also avoid traveling alone and always let someone know your travel plans, route and timeline. 

Brent House, a services representative at All-Star Automotive, had tips on keeping your car intact. House said tires were the “biggest issue” when it came to winter safety. 

“Make sure your tires are all good and that the tread is good on them,” House said. A way to know if a tread is low is by doing the “penny test.” The penny test is done by placing a penny in the groove of a tire and if most of Lincoln’s head is covered the tire is good, if a lot is visible it would be a good idea to change the tire.

Tire America | The Penny Test
Tire America | The Penny Test

House also added to “keep a good  distance” away from the car in front while driving in the snow as a safety precaution.

“Keep a close eye on your engine oil too,” he said. Keeping the oil checked and changed when needed is essential during not only the winter but year round.

One thing to look out for is antifreeze, a liquid to add to a car’s engine’s cooling system, is important during winter, House said. Antifreeze can be added by the owner or a mechanic and bought at stores and some mechanic shops. 

Another recommendation he added is to check the car’s battery and make sure it will be able to turn on during the winter. The battery can become worse during the winter months and a weak battery can deter car functions.

If a blizzard does trap someone in their car, Boone county said: not to panic, avoid overexertion and overexposure, turn on in car lights to alert crews and to stay with one’s car.

Boone county also advises for pets to have adequate shelter and plenty of food and water during winter storms. Cold weather can bring hyperthermia, which is when the body begins to lose heat faster than it produces it. Symptoms include: uncontrollable shivering, memory lapses, drowsiness and frequent stumbling.

People can also be overexposed to cold, wet and windy weather. If someone exhibits signs of overexposure they provide tips of remedy such as: getting into dry clothes and a warm bed or having a sleeping bag with a hot water bottle. Concentrate on getting shoulders, chest and stomach warm first and getting something warm to drink. If symptoms are extreme, people should call for medical assistance immediately.

When going outside during a winter storm, to avoid overexertion dress warmly in loose fitting clothes and layer up. Watch for frostbite on exposed parts of your body, avoid alcoholic beverages and keep yourself and your clothes dry.

Columbia Fire Department provides home heating safety guidelines. Many people use space heaters as a way of cutting electricity bills but the fire department warns they need space. Space heaters must be three feet away from things that can burn such as bedding, furniture or paper. Turning off portable heaters when going to bed or leaving a room is also cautioned.

Missouri Department of Public Safety Fire Department
Missouri Department of Public Safety Fire Department

Other safety guidelines are: never use an oven to heat a home, installing and maintaining a carbon monoxide alarm, installing smoke alarms in every bedroom, inspecting a broken plug or loose connection and replacing it, plugging power cords only into outlets with sufficient capacity and inspecting a chimney every year and keeping it clean.


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