Stay safe, Western Tidewater

Published 11:02 am Saturday, January 23, 2016

We’ve been fortunate to have a relatively mild winter thus far, but this weekend’s snow and freezing rain changed that in a hurry. We hope you haven’t been caught off guard, as the last few loaves of break and gallons of milk left at the store would suggest, and instead have created a plan for how to stay safe during such inclement weather. If an emergency were to happen, though, here are some tips from the American Red Cross:

• Wear layers of clothing to stay warm, along with a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.

• Avoid frozen pipes — run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent them from freezing.

• Be extremely careful if you have to shovel snow. Work slowly, take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.

• Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness or waxy feeling skin.

• Don’t forget your pets — bring them indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.

• Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.

• Avoid driving on snow-covered roads if possible. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers additional advice:

• Use fireplaces, wood stoves or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside and do not leak flue gas into the indoor air space.

• Keep as much heat as possible inside your home.

• Check the temperature in your home often.

• Eat well-balanced meals to help you stay warmer.

• Never use a charcoal or gas grill indoors — the fumes are deadly.

• Never use a generator inside the house, in the basement, in the garage, or near a window.

• Infants younger than 1 should never sleep in a cold room, because infants lose body heat more easily than adults.

Winter weather can be fun, and we hope you send pictures of you and your children enjoying the snow to But, it can be just as dangerous if you’re not smart.