Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey offers tips to keep families safe this winter

Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — In recognition of Winter Weather Preparedness Week, which runs from December 5-11 in North Carolina, Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey is urging families to make preparations now for potentially dangerous weather this winter.

“Although North Carolina isn’t necessarily known for its harsh winters, that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down,” said Causey, who is also the state fire marshal. “Between holiday traveling, cooking and other potential fire risks, it is so important for families to keep safety in mind this winter.”

WINTER TRAVEL

Winter weather can bring a combination of potentially life-threatening conditions, including sleet, snow and ice that can cause road conditions to quickly deteriorate. Since road injuries are the leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries to children in North Carolina,

Causey offers some simple travel tips to help keep the holiday fun and injury free:

♦ Drive slowly. It’s harder to control or stop your vehicle on an ice or snow-covered roadway.

♦ Increase your following distance so that you’ll have plenty of time to stop for vehicles ahead of you.

♦ Always wear your seat belt and ensure that everyone else in your vehicle is buckled up.

♦ Know whether your vehicle has an anti-lock brake system. Anti-lock brake systems prevent your wheels from locking up during braking. If you have anti-lock brakes, apply firm, continuous pressure to the brake pedal. If you don’t have anti-lock brakes, you may need to pump the brakes if your wheels start to lock up

♦ Check your car seat before holiday travel.

♦ Use booster seats.

♦ Bulky coats and car seats don’t mix.

FALLS

Weather in North Carolina can be very unpredictable, especially during the winter months. In the event of snowy or icy conditions, Causey also reminds the public about the seriousness of falls and ways to reduce fall risk.

According to estimates by the Injury and Violence Prevention Branch of the North Carolina Division of Public Health, falls are the leading cause of injury-related emergency department visits for older adults and are responsible for more than half of fatal head injuries.

Please remember these steps to reduce falls:

♦ Take your time. Get up slowly and get your balance before walking.

♦ Keep stairs and walking areas free of clutter.

♦ Use non-slip mats on your bathroom floor and showers.

♦ Be aware of uneven surfaces like rugs and uneven sidewalks.

♦ Be careful on stairs. Use the handrails and make sure they are well lit.

HEATING

During the winter season, staying warm and safe can be a challenge. Each year during the winter months, there is an increase in the number of home fires related to the various forms of heating.

Please remember these tips to prevent house fires:

♦ Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment.

♦ Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.

♦ Never use your oven to heat your home.

♦ Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

♦ Test smoke alarms at least once a month.

LEARN MORE

To learn more about fire and holiday safety, visit the OSFM website.

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