10 Tips To Stay Safe During A Blizzard

Watching the snow fall from the sky can be calming and therapeutic, but don't underestimate the power of a blizzard.

Blizzards can cause power shortages, treacherous roadways, and sub-zero temperatures, and if you're not properly prepared, you may be caught in a dangerous predicament. After a snowfall, the roads are especially slick, and it's easy for your car to slip off the road. Power outages are also common during extreme weather, and without electricity a house can quickly become unbearably cold. For pet owners, a new snowfall presents its own set of challenges. If not guided by a leash, dogs can easily get away from their owners and get lost in the snow.

But there's no reason to be a victim of these blizzard hazards. By employing some simple remedies and precautions, you can enjoy the coziness of the snow storm rather than worry about your safety.

Here are 10 ways to stay safe during a blizzard.

Avoid Alcohol (Seriously)
A "whiskey jacket" is a popular way to stay warm, but drinking too much alcohol is not a good idea in extremely cold temperatures. Alcohol is dehydrating, which is less noticeable during the winter. Alcohol also interferes with the body's internal thermometer, which can prevent shivering (not a good thing), and result in an accelerated loss of body heat.

Charge Your Cellphone
The importance of a cellphone can't be overstated. These are the ultimate emergency devices, so make sure yours is charged and ready to go.

Don't Forget About Your Pets
Blizzards can be especially hazardous for pets. During heavy snowfall, keep your dog on a leash during walks and add some colorful identifying tags to the collar. Also, be wary of melting ice; it can be very painful for dogs to walk over and is potentially toxic if ingested.

Exercise Caution When Shoveling
Shoveling is a necessity, but it's also an easy way to throw out your back and even induce a heart attack. Remember to take constant breaks and stay hydrated; it's a workout after all.

Layer Up
Wearing three to four layers of clothing is the most effective way to insulate your body. Packing on some light-weight jackets or vests underneath a winter coat and wind breaker will allow you to tolerate the winter chill. Runner's tights and earmuffs are also useful for making sure no part of you is exposed.

Never Use a Generator Indoors
If you have an alternative power source such as a generator, make sure not to use it inside, even if it's located in a basement, garage, or crawlspace. The fumes it creates contain carbon monoxide, which can be especially dangerous to children, the elderly, and pets.

Prepare a Blizzard Survival Kit
Stock a bag with all the essentials that can help you outlast a long power outage. Batteries, flashlights, a battery-operated radio, bottled water, canned goods, any medications you take, and lots of toilet paper are some of the essentials, but cater your survival kit to your own personal needs.

Stay Inside
Staying off the roads and remaining indoors is the best way to avoid winter hazards, and the perfect chance to whip up some soup, but once the wind and the snow taper off, don't be afraid to step outside and enjoy the snow.

Use Flashlights Not Candles
During a power outage, avoid using candles if possible. Flash lights are a much safer alternative, especially in a household with children and/or pets.

Watch for Frostbite and Hypothermia
Symptoms for hypothermia include dizziness, exhaustion, and severe shivering. Symptoms for frostbite include numbness; flushed gray, white, blue, or yellow skin discoloration; or waxy-feeling skin. If you think you're afflicted with either, call 911.

This story was originally published February 9, 2017.