Winter is in full swing! The Town of Thompson wants to help our residents stay safe and enjoy the beauty of our Catskills winter. That’s why we put together this top 10 list of winter safety tips. Share with your loved ones, and stay safe this winter.

Hit the Road with These Winter Safety Strategies

1) Prepare an Emergency Kit for Your Car
In the event your vehicle breaks down, be ready with an emergency kit. The U.S. Department of Transportation created a list of essentials to put in your kit. Of course, keep this kit in your vehicle at all times!
• ice scraper
• snow shovel
• jumper cables
• flashlight with fresh batteries
• flares/emergency markers
• warm blankets
• water, food
• any necessary medicine

2) Just Say No to Snow (in the Road)
When it’s snowing, the Town of Thompson Highway Department has your back! Their crew works hard to keep the roads clear and safe. You can do your part, too…don’t put any snow or debris into our roads.

In fact, this is illegal according to NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law. Never shovel, snow blow, or plow snow back into a public roadway. It’s also essential that you brush the snow and ice off your vehicle before driving so it doesn’t end up in the road.

3) Tread Safely! Check Your Tires
“If you see Washington’s head, you’re low on tire tread!”

This should be your motto during our Town of Thompson winters. According to Consumer Reports, your tire tread should be at least 4/32”, according to most experts. Anything less, and your vehicle is more prone to losing its grip on snowy, slick roads.

A quick test is to take a quarter, place it in the tire tread, and see if the top of Washington’s head is visible. If it is, or if you see ANY space between the edge of the quarter and his head, get new tires as soon as possible.

Brave the Elements: Get Ready Now for Storms, and Other Winter Hazards

4) Get Storm Smart with an Emergency Kit for Your Home
When you prepare your emergency car kit, why not prep a storm kit for your home as well? Here’s what the National Weather Service recommends you include:

• Flashlight with extra batteries
• Battery-powered NOAA weather radio and portable radio to receive emergency information
• Extra food (that requires no refrigeration or cooking in the event of a power outage), plenty of water,
• Medicine and first aid supplies
• Emergency heating source: fireplace or wood stove (with plenty of wood), generator, etc.

5) Stay in the Know of Severe Winter Weather in Sullivan County
Did you know you can receive email and text alerts for severe weather warnings in Sullivan County? You can sign up right here, and even select to receive additional Town of Thompson alerts such as job postings, boil water orders, Town Board meetings, and more.

You can also check for up-to-date power outage information at the NYSEG website. You can also receive urgent alerts for weather in Orange County.

Finally, you can subscribe to alerts from New York State at www.nyalert.gov or by calling 1-888-697-6972.

6) Learn to Avoid Frostbite and Hypothermia
One of the best parts of living in the Catskills is access to year-round outdoor recreation. Getting outdoors – whether it’s walking in the Town of Thompson park, or skiing at a nearby slope – is a great way to stay happy and healthy during the winter.

However, anyone who is outdoors in the winter must be aware of the risks of both hypothermia (low body temperature caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperature) and frostbite (damage to skin by freezing).

Learn the signs and review winter safety strategies for both of these conditions using these hypothermia and frostbite prevention tips from the CDC.

7) Shovel Snow Safely
When the Town of Thompson receives a foot of snow, many of us are out shoveling right away. But the American Heart Association warns that those with existing heart conditions – like high blood pressure – are at a greater risk for a heart attack while shoveling snow. Consider hiring someone or ask a family member to help you shovel. Even those who are healthy should be careful when shoveling as it is a very intense activity. Use these tips to shovel safely:

• Take frequent breaks to rest between shoveling
• Use a smaller shovel as it forces you to scoop up smaller loads of snow. Lifting large loads of snow can raise blood pressure quickly.
• If possible, push snow as opposed to lifting and then tossing it
• Consider investing in a snow blower
• Don’t eat a large meal before shoveling as that adds extra strain on your heart
• Learn the signs of a heart attack and call 9-1-1 immediately if you feel discomfort in your chest or upper body, break out in a cold sweat, or experience nausea or lightheadedness

Source: Hudson Valley Chapter of the American Heart Association

Winter Safety Tips to Avoid Fire Hazards

8) Promptly Dispose of Your Christmas Tree
Yes, there are some of us in Monticello and Rock Hill Fire Districts who like to enjoy the Christmas spirit beyond December 25th. No judging! Except when it comes to your Christmas tree. It’s now likely past its prime, and so dry that it prevents a serious fire hazard. Go ahead and keep your decorations up, but it’s time to get rid of that tree.

9) Double Check Your Smoke Detectors
Most fire alarms include a test button that you can push to ensure the alarm is in good working order with full batteries. Set up a recurring event in your calendar to do the smoke alarm test on a monthly basis. Are your alarms 10 years old or older? The National Fire Protection Association suggests you replace them ASAP.

10) Never Warm Up Your Car in the Garage and 4 More Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas and it can cause deadly poisoning: either by a small amount inhaled over an extended period of time (weeks, months, even years) or by a large amount in minutes or hours.

CO is produced when fuel is burned incompletely and there is not enough oxygen to form carbon dioxide (CO2). That’s why burning fuel in enclosed spaces such as the home or garage can be dangerous without proper ventilation or by using heating equipment (stoves, fireplaces, furnaces, dryers, etc.) that is not functioning properly.

Here in the Catskills, we all like to stay cozy – whether it’s staying indoors with the furnace on full blast or enjoying a crackling fire by the fireplace. Just get smart about CO first with these 5 tips, so that you can stay warm…and stay safe!

• You know that smoke detectors are life-saving devices. However, carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are just as important and can detect dangerous levels! Be sure to install CO alarms in your home. Already have CO alarms installed? Be sure to do a battery check.
• Never turn on your vehicle (or use a remote start to turn on your vehicle) and let it sit in your garage while the engine is on – even if the garage doors are open! Turn on the vehicle and then immediately take it out of the garage.
• Get all of your heating sources inspected by an HVAC professional each winter season.
• If there is a snow storm, check all vents (dryer, stove, furnace, fireplace) to make sure snow is not blocking the release of gas, smoke, and fumes.
• Never use a generator in the home or garage, only outside – and keep it away from vents, doors, and windows.

Source for these fire and winter safety tips: National Fire Protection Association