Seasonal Safety

Warning triangle on a winter road

Ready or Not, Winter is Coming

The leaves are changing and temperatures are slowly dropping. While some may not want to think about the coming months, winter weather will be here before we know it. The final weeks of fall are a great time to make sure your vehicle is ready for winter weather.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) recommends drivers keep an emergency kit with blankets, food, water and any medications in your vehicle; always have at least a half tank of gas; make sure all tires are properly inflated; and never mix radial tires with other types of tires.

Safety Tips

  • Always wear a seat belt.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly.
  • Drive slower; snow can make the road slicker than normal.
  • Know how to use your brakes. AAA recommends applying firm, steady pressure to the brake pedal.
  • Do not stop when going uphill.
  • Stay home if you are not comfortable driving in the snow.

Stay Warm This Season

Although Pennsylvania is not one of America’s five coldest states, the risk of frostbite and hypothermia still exists. Both of these life threatening conditions are caused by excessive exposure to low temperatures, wind or moisture. To ensure safety in the cold month activities, remember to keep children bundled and limit their outdoor time during severe weather.

Safety Tips

  • Check the temperature and limit your time outdoors if it’s very cold, wet or windy.
  • Bundle up in several layers of loose clothing.
  • Wear mittens rather than gloves.
  • Cover your ears with a warm hat.
  • Wear socks that will keep your feet warm and dry.


Even skin that is protected can be subject to frostbite. It is the most common injury resulting from exposure to severe cold, and it usually occurs on fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks and chin. If caught early, it is possible to prevent permanent damage. If not, frostbite can lead to amputation.

If you suspect frostbite:

  • Get indoors immediately.
  • Seek medical attention.
  • Remove constrictive clothing and jewelry that could impair circulation.
  • Place dry, sterile gauze between toes and fingers to absorb moisture and keep them from sticking together.
  • Elevate the affected area to reduce pain and swelling.


Hypothermia occurs when the body’s temperature drops below 95 degrees. Severe shivering, one of the first signs of hypothermia, is beneficial in keeping the body warm. But as hypothermia progresses, shivering gives way to drowsiness or exhaustion, confusion, shallow breathing, irregular heartbeat, slurred speech, loss of coordination and, eventually, results in unconsciousness and even death.

How to care for someone suffering from hypothermia?

  • Move the victim inside and remove any wet clothing.
  • Call for medical attention.
  • Add blankets, pillows, towels or newspapers beneath and around the victim.
  • Cover the victim’s head.
  • Handle the victim gently to avoid cardiac arrest.
  • Keep the victim in a horizontal position.
  • If necessary, give CPR.

None of these steps are a substitute for proper medical care. Be sure to seek medical attention for frostbite and hypothermia as soon as possible.

Three children lying on the Snow

Playing in the Snow

When hitting the slopes, follow these safety tips to ensure you get the most out of your experience:

Sledding Safety

  • Keep all equipment in good condition.
  • Dress in layers to adjust for weather conditions. If clothes become wet, head inside.
  • Sled on spacious, gently sloping hills, which have a level run-off at the end so that the sled can stop safely.
  • Check slopes for bare spots or holes, which might cause injury.
  • Make sure the sledding path does not cross traffic and is free from hazards such as large trees, fences, rocks or telephone poles.
  • Do not sled on or around frozen lakes because the ice may be unstable.
  • Do not sled head first! Sit down or lie on your back.
  • Children should wear thick gloves and protective boots to protect against frostbite.
  • Have age appropriate sleds and don’t exceed the number of passengers on the sled.
  • Have water and warm beverages available.

Two kids skiing in the mountains

Ski and Snowboarding Safety

  • Always wear a helmet!
  • Wear appropriate clothing and utilize the right equipment for skiing and snowboarding.
  • When skiing or snowboarding downhill, give moving skiers and snowboarders below the right of way. You should be able to see them, but they might not see you.
  • If you need to stop, only do so on the side of a run, well out of the way and in view of other skiers and snowboarders.
  • Look both ways and uphill before crossing a trail, merging or starting down the hill.
  • Use a safety device like retention straps to prevent runaway equipment.
  • Follow all posted signs and rules. Avoid closed trails and out-of-bound areas.
  • Know your ability level and the terrain you plan on skiing or snowboarding.
  • Prepare for emergency situations by taking simple safety steps like using the buddy system or being prepared for changes in the weather.

Tis’ the Season – Holiday Hazard ChecklistClose-Up of presents with Christmas Tree in background

The holidays should be a magical time for children. Yet each year, hospital emergency rooms treat about 8,700 people for injuries, such as falls, cuts and shocks, related to holiday lights, decorations and Christmas trees alone.

Decorations, lights, and toys are a wonderful part of the holidays, but if you have young children, you need to take special precautions to make sure they are safe. Even outdoor play and visiting your friends and families over the holidays comes with certain risks, so take the appropriate precautions to ensure a happy – and safe – holiday for all!

Safer Trees and Decorations

  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.” This indicates the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators. Because heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water.
  • Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Use only noncombustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use nonflammable holders and place candles out of children’s reach.
  • Take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable; keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces; and consider keeping the lower branches free of lights and ornaments.

Bright Ideas for Lights

  • Indoors or outside, always use lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory that indicates conformance with safety standards.
  • Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets.
  • Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage.
  • Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.

Trouble-Free Toys

  • Before buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy that he has received as a gift, read the instructions carefully. If the toy is appropriate for your child, show him how to use it properly.
  • Follow recommended age ranges on toy packages. Toys that are too advanced could pose a safety hazard for younger children.
  • Children under age three can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Follow government regulations, which are issued to help ensure your child’s safety.

Blow Out Candles and Store Matches Out of Reach

  • Keep holiday candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn, and don’t forget to blow them out when you leave the room or before you go to sleep.
  • Make a habit of placing matches and lighters in a safe place, out of children’s reach.

Keep Harmful Plants Out of Reach

Plants can spruce up your holiday decorating, but keep those that may be poisonous out of reach of children or pets. This includes mistletoe berries, holly berry and Jerusalem cherry.

Keep Button Batteries Away from Young Children

Keep a special eye on small pieces, including button batteries that may be included in electronic toys or musical greeting cards.

Prevent Spills with Pot Handles

Kids love to reach, so to prevent burns from hot holiday food or liquid spills, simply use the back burner of your stove and turn pot handles away from the edge.

Engage Older Youth in Cooking

Teach older responsible children how to cook safely. Teach them never to leave the kitchen while they are using the stove or oven. Instruct them to use oven mitts or potholders to remove items from the oven or stove, and teach safe microwave use. Always supervise children in the kitchen.

Injury Risks Areas