Dress for the weather if you go out (but stay in if you can)
- If you are going to be doing physical activity, make sure to wear a base (next-to-skin) layer made to “wick” moisture, according to online advice from the outdoor store REI. Materials that wick moisture, including synthetics such as nylon and polyester and natural fibers such as silk and merino wool, help keep your skin dry and avoid you becoming chilled or hypothermic, the advice says. On top of that base layer should be a middle layer that insulates and an outer layer that shields you from the snow. And don’t forget a hat, gloves, thick socks and waterproof — or at least water-resistant — shoes or boots.
- Start with a warm-up, which can help you avoid injury: Try these, repeating each in three sets of 10: jumping jacks; a standing squat (stand with feet a shoulder-width apart, bending your knees to 90 degrees like you are seated in a chair, then stand back up); lunges (feet shoulder-width apart, step forward 2 feet with one leg, bending to about 90 degrees and not letting the bent knee go over your toes, return to stand back up and put your feet together, then switch legs).
- Make sure your snow-shoveling form doesn’t put your body at risk: Bend at the knee and lift with your legs — not your back. Don’t let snow pile up (it’s harder to clear later on).
- Consider finding help. You shouldn’t be shoveling if you’re having trouble breathing, experiencing chest pains or have an uncontrolled heart condition. Shoveling despite any of these could prove fatal. If you feel persistent shortness of breath, chest pressure, palpitations, or feeling like your heart is racing or beating irregularly, seek emergency help.
Driving (if you must)
- Driving in perilous weather is dangerous, but if you absolutely can’t avoid it, consider bringing along supplies for the vehicle like a collapsible shovel, along with an ice scraper and broom, a phone charger, first-aid kid and other emergency supplies in the vehicle in case you get stuck, according to AAA Northeast.
- Don’t use cruise control in the snow; you need to stay alert. Go slow so that you can retain control if you start to skid off course. Do your best to maintain 8 to 10 seconds of distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. That way, it’s easier to stop if you must.
- If you get stuck while driving in the snow, try slowly rocking the vehicle. Ease forward in low gear (for automatic transmission) or in second gear (for manual transmission). Then, when the vehicle won’t go forward, release the accelerator to let the vehicle roll back. “When the vehicle stops its backward motion, apply minimum pressure on the accelerator again. Repeat these actions in rapid succession until the vehicle rolls free,” according to AAA, which cautions: “do not rock the vehicle for prolonged periods as serious damage to the automatic transmission or clutch may occur.”
About that roof …
- Especially on low-pitched or flat roofs, accumulated snow can cause collapses. Don’t climb onto the roof until the storm has passed to start removing snow, particularly in high winds or other blizzard conditions.
- Be sure to use a spotter when you go up there.
- Signs of collapse include a sagging roof, bad leaks, cracks, bends, ripples or popping sounds.
- Find more tips by Googling “FEMA P-957, Snow Load Safety Guide”
- Consider hiring a professional.
- Shut off water that flows to the outside, then drain remaining water from the outside spigot.
- If you won’t be home during the storm, leave the heat on, set to a temperature of no less than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
- “Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to un-insulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls,” according to online advice from the insurance company State Farm.
Sources: Newsday archives, AAA Northeast, NYU Langone, Northwell Health, Stony Brook University, District of Columbia Government, Recreational Equipment Inc., State Farm