Winter Walking Safety Tips

http://health.sunnybrook.ca/wellness/safety-tips-winter-walking-snow/
Photo Credit *

Now that the winter has arrived temperatures will be dropping and snow will fall from the sky. With snow comes ice, and with ice comes slips and falls. Mother Nature might be the one to blame for the sleet and snow, but who is to blame for the slips and falls?

As a pedestrian it’s your job to be aware of your surroundings at all times. If you know that snow is headed your way make sure to plan ahead. Here’s how:

Before you walk out the door, make sure that you wear the proper footwear. Proper footwear should place the entire foot on the surface of the ground, like sneakers or snow boots. You should avoid a smooth sole and shoes with flat bottoms.

While walking on snow or icy sidewalks or parking lots, always walk consciously. Be sure to take your time and don’t rush. People think that by looking down while walking helps, when really this isn’t true. Instead of looking down, you should look up and see where your feet will move next. This method allows you to anticipate ice or any uneven surfaces. Along with taking your time, you should occasionally scan from left to right to ensure that you aren’t in the way of vehicles or other hazards.

Injuries during the winter aren’t always from slipping on ice, but can also result from falling snow/ice as it blows, melts, or breaks away from awnings, buildings, etc. If you are a home or business owner, make sure sidewalks and walkways (and any overhangs) are cleared of any snow, ice or other slippery materials that could get in the way of the pedestrian.

Whether you’re walking to and from parking lots, between buildings at work, or even at home on your sidewalk, walk cautious and walk alert. Slips and falls are the most frequent types of injuries that occur during the winter season. No matter how well the snow and ice is removed from parking lots and sidewalks, it’s imperative to walk smart.

 

*http://health.sunnybrook.ca/wellness/safety-tips-winter-walking-snow/

Winter is Here!

Car tires on winter road covered with snow

The winter is upon us and sooner or later, New Jersey will see itself covered in a freezing blanket of billowy snow. But as New Jersians, life doesn’t just stop because of a few flakes (or feet) of the white stuff. Getting your car “winter ready” before the first snow will ensure you’re ready to face the road ahead. Ensure vehicle fluids are changed, tires are checked or replaced, and ensure all exterior lights are in proper working order. Then follow these driving tips if you need to travel in the cold and snow:

  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Most vehicles keep the tire pressure information on the driver side door panel.
  • Check and replace (if necessary) windshield wipers.
  • Top off wiper fluid.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • Do not use cruise control in wet, wintery, icy weather.
  • Avoid hard breaking in wet weather as this can make your vehicle spin out of control.
  • Look and steer in the direction you want to go.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds.
  • Keep non-clumping kitty litter or wood chips in the trunk of your vehicle. This will help your tires gain traction if you become stuck in snow.
  • When traveling long distances, make sure to keep a blanket, flash light, water, and snacks in your vehicle in case you become stranded.
  • When in doubt, stay home. If driving conditions make it extremely difficult to travel, please do not attempt to go out.

For more information on winter driving visit http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/roadway-safety/winter-driving-tips/#.WG0-FxsrJPY

The Winter Doldrums

kmm.orgDon’t let winter weigh you down.  Lift your family’s spirits with a brisk walk.  A walk around the corner, to a friend’s house, to the park, to the skating rink or sledding hill, or even to school in the sunshine and fresh cold air can put everyone in a better mood. Sound impossible? Here are some winter walking tips to put the spring in your step.

  • Be role model! If winter walking is normal to you, it’ll be normal to your children.
  • Being warm is not just about clothing.  Start out with a good breakfast and drink fluids to stay well-hydrated.
  • Dress appropriately. Bundle up in coats, hats, gloves, and scarves, of course. But also consider warm, waterproof boots (snow boots) and snow pants for snowy or very cold days.  Dress in layers.
  • Walking is more fun with friends! Recruit friends and neighbors to join you.
  •  Short winter days means dusk comes earlier.  Be visible.  Consider carrying a flashlight or clipping reflective tags to coats and backpacks.

Spring will be here before you know it, and April is New Jersey Walk and Bike to School Month. Now is a great time to bring in KMM for a school Walking Safety Assembly and to start planning a Spring Walk to School Day. Contact Safe Routes to School Coordinator Peter Bilton at (732) 745-3996 to find out more.

O Tannenbaum, How Lovely Are Your Branches

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Photo Credit: Pinterest

In NJ and around the world, cutting down a Christmas tree has become a family tradition.  On a crisp December day, Mom and Dad bundle up the kids, pile into the car, and head out to a tree farm.  Hack saw in hand, they trek through the fields and over the hills inspecting, rejecting, and finally, finding the perfect tree.  Alternatively, the family stops at a nearby lot and selects a pre-cut tree.  Wherever the tree is purchased, it has to be brought home.  That’s when the trouble starts.

While this stately tree may fit perfectly in front of your picture window, it may be a bit oversized for your car.  How do you transport your Tannenbaum safely from field to foyer?

The folks at www.cars.com asked the experts at the National Christmas Tree Association for some tips on transporting your tree.

  • Get your Christmas tree netted before leaving the lot to make it more manageable. If it’s going on the roof, the trunk should be facing front.
  • Make sure to select a tree that will either fit inside your cargo area or on top of your roof. A roof rack is a good idea.
  • Have enough rope or cord to wrap around the tree and secure it to the roof rack or to cargo hooks.
  • Protect the cargo area or roof with a tarp or blanket.
  • Before leaving the lot, give the tree a good tug to make sure it’s secure.
  • Drive slowly and avoid the highway. Heavy objects affect your vehicle’s center of gravity and consequently emergency handling.

The NJ State Police emphasize that improperly secured trees can cause the tree to slide down the windshield and obstructing the driver’s view or falling off the roof and strike another vehicle.  They suggest planning ahead and arrive in a vehicle to support the size of tree you select.

Whether your holiday plans call for “rockin’ around the Christmas tree,” or sitting in quiet contemplation, make sure you and your tree arrive home safely.

“Waes Hael” and Be Safe

carolingLike many traditions, caroling harkens back to olden times.  On Twelfth Night, people in the apple growing regions of southern and western England gathered in orchards for wassailing. Because wages were often paid in apple cider, a bountiful harvest was necessary for the livelihood of the landowner and laborers.  Dancing and singing traditional songs, the people paraded through the orchards pouring apple cider on the trees and settling cider soaked bread on branches to chase away evil spirits.  They toasted the apple trees with a hearty “waes hael” (good health.)

Today, families and friends keep the tradition alive with a night of caroling.  Like the ancients, they walk through neighborhoods singing favorite carols and perhaps stopping for food and drink.

Unlike the ancients, carolers today may be walking on cold nights and icy sidewalks.  Keep these winter walking tips in mind.

  • Bundle up in coats, hats, gloves, and scarves.
  • Wear sensible, warm, waterproof boots for snowy or very cold nights.
  • Dress in layers.
  • Stay hydrated.  Carry a thermos with water or hot cocoa.
  • Carry a battery operated lantern or a flashlight to light the walk and to be seen by drivers. Be visible.

Have a great time!

Lunch Time by Foot

walkingKMM is located in the heart of vibrant New Brunswick, NJ where banks, the post office, all sorts of stores, and even the State Theater are within walking distance. Our staff relishes all this convenience, especially at lunch time when the city is our oyster.

American, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Caribbean, and Ethiopian cuisine as well as the Hyatt’s Glasswoods Tavern offer attractive eat in options. For something fast, New Brunswick boasts barbeque, burgers, soups, salads, hot dogs, subs, and sandwiches. And, if we just can’t decide, we head over to the new supermarket which has an abundant take out menu. We frequent delightful ice cream and yogurt shops guilt free because we are walking to and from the yummy establishments.

Admittedly, winter has curtailed our lunchtime outdoor activities somewhat. For now, we’re mostly brown bagging around our conference table.

Despite the cold, wind, snow, and ice, we do get out, waiting for the “perfect” day, defined loosely as one with temperatures above 20 degrees and no precipitation. Lacing up our boots, putting on our mittens, and wrapping up in scarves, and hats, we’re ready to brave the elements. Walking gingerly to avoid ice, we mince our way down the sidewalk to a nearby eatery for something hot to eat-in or take out.

Sadly, we’ve haven’t enjoyed too many of these excursions. When it comes to walking in winter, we use common sense. If it’s cold, if it’s slippery, if the snow is piled high at intersections, we stay in the office and look longingly at our sneakers sitting untouched in the corner waiting, like us, for Spring.

Say Cheese and Drink Hot Chocolate

WinterPhotoContest2The weather outside is certainly frightful and Winter 2014 is turning out to be memorable –  if nothing else.  So the staff at KMM decided that we need to help make the winter commute brighter and warmer.

Beginning this month and running until supplies last, KMM will send every commuter who submits a photo of their winter commute (either via our Facebook page or via wintercommute@kmm,org) a packet of delicious hot chocolate!  Once the photos are submitted, fellow commuters and Facebook fans can vote on their favorite photo.  The photo with the most votes at the end of the program will receive the Grand Prize Gift Basket filled with winter goodies.

As for the photos?

Be creative.  Whether you carpool, vanpool, take mass transit, ride a bike or drive alone – take a picture of what you winter commute looks like.

There is a delicious hot cup of chocolate waiting to be sent just to you!

Happy and Safe Commute!

We do remind everyone, to exercise safety and common sense when taking their photos.  Please do not take photos while driving.

Remove Your Car From the Street… It Could Save Your Life

Awhile back, I was a member of the governing body in my town.  From time to time, constituents would call about any number of issues.  Calls piled high immediately after a snow storm.  Mostly, residents complained that they had been ticketed for leaving their cars on the street.

MH900289534I would explain that our town, like many communities, requires vehicles to be removed from the street when snow fall reaches a certain level. For some towns, it’s two inches.  In others, it may be “when the street is snow-covered.”  In my town, the day before a storm, the Public Works guys post signs up and down the street, reminding people to move their vehicles off the roadway.  Some communities use reverse 911 messaging systems to call residents.

These policies were not adopted to be mean.  They are not meant to inconvenience people.  They are definitely not meant to be revenue generators, as a disgruntled citizen always suggests.  They are meant to save lives.

Think about it.  Cars parked on the street, impede snow removal.  If the snow can’t be removed, the roads cannot be plowed adequately.  If the roads cannot be plowed adequately, ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars may not be able to respond quickly to emergencies.  If emergency personnel cannot respond quickly, a house could burn down or someone could die.

So, follow the rules.  Get your car off the street prior to a major snowfall.  Squeeze your family’s vehicles into your driveway or onto your lawn.  Make arrangements with your neighbor or a local business.  Learn if your town allows residents to move their cars to municipal parking lots.

Yes, it’s a pain.  But it would be a lot more painful if you or your family needed emergency services, and first responders couldn’t respond.

~RAK

Winter Driving Tips

snow
With winter in full swing here in Central New Jersey, we thought it would be best to brush up on our winter driving skills.  Before you climb into your car, take a moment to review and refresh!

Driving in Bad Weather

• Carpool: two heads are better than one.
• Sign up for the KMM Emergency Traffic Alert system and receive traffic reports for the roads YOU travel on.
• Be alert. Don’t drive when fatigued.
• Allow plenty of extra time for trips.
• Have alternative routes for how you’ll drive from point A to point B. Anticipate worst-case scenarios and prepare for them.
• Make sure your cell phone is fully charged and have the charger handy.

Tips for Readying Your Car

• Keep the gas tank at least half-full when driving in bad weather. You’ll be more prepared for periods of slow driving or when traffic stops altogether.
• Keep your wiper blades in excellent condition to ensure good visibility.
• Make sure your tires have good treads.
• Carry emergency supplies in your vehicle, no matter what the weather. A good emergency checklist includes a blanket, window scraper, flashlight, first-aid kit, shovel, jumper cables, flares, and non-perishable snacks.

Braking and Skidding

• When applying the brakes on a vehicle equipped with conventional brakes, avoid locking them by pumping.
• For vehicles equipped with anti-lock brakes, apply the amount of brake pressure needed, and don’t pump the brakes.
• To avoid skidding, stay within the speed limit, and, in poor weather, slow down. Keep adequate distance between your vehicle and others.
• Slow down before entering turns or bends, steering steadily.
• While on icy or slippery roads, don’t brake heavily or jerk the steering wheel.

Snow, Ice or Mud Conditions

• If your car is stuck in snow, ice, or mud, proceed carefully. Acceleration that is too rapid will spin the wheels and only dig the vehicle in deeper.
• Try to stay calm and turn the steering wheel gently from side to side to clear snow, ice, or mud away from the wheels. Lightly accelerate forward with the wheels straight ahead, alternating with a slow movement in reverse. This may help rock the vehicle out of its rut.
• Be aware that moisture on overpasses and bridges becomes icy more quickly than on ground-level roads, since cold air is beneath these structures.

This is the perfect time of year to investigate ridesharing or mass transit as an alternative for your commute. Contact KMM to inquire about carpool or vanpool matches for your route, and get free mass transit schedules for your area. Why not start commute habits now that will benefit you all year-long? It could make for a better commute!