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State officials declare this week, Maryland Winter Safety Week

Posted at 11:11 AM, Dec 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-02 18:09:12-05

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WMAR) — State officials have declared this week, Maryland Winter Safety Week.

The official proclamation was announced Monday in Annapolis.

“Winters in our state bring frigid temperatures, intense winds, dangerous ice, and heavy snow, so I urge Marylanders to start preparing now,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “By being prepared, staying aware, and using common sense, we can all enjoy the winter season.”

Since the 2013-2014 winter season, the Maryland Department of Health reported 208 cold-related deaths in the State, including 61 in 2017-2018 and 54 during the 2018-2019 winter season. Thirty percent of occurred in Baltimore City alone.

Exposure to extreme cold can lower body temperature, weaken the immune system, and can aggravate chronic diseases like asthma, arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular and lung disease, and mental illness.

People can also be at risk indoors in cases where their power has been shut off, or if they can't afford to up the temperature in their homes.

Carbon monoxide exposure also peaks during the winter, especially when people are more likely to use generators, stoves, and home heating systems that are unsafe and may not be properly maintained.

Here are some winter preparedness and safety tips from the Maryland office of Emergency Management:

  • When cold weather hits, you should check on the welfare of family, friends, and neighbors who are particularly vulnerable to cold, snow, and ice – this may include the elderly and those with access and functional needs.
  • Build a home preparedness kit that includes winter supplies such as snow shovels, ice melting products, extra warm clothes and blankets, flashlights, and batteries.
  • Follow a trusted weather source, such as the National Weather Service and local news media, to be aware of any predicted frozen precipitation or severe cold temperatures.
  • Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter travel, by checking all fluids, wiper blades, lights, and systems before the winter season begins.
  • Have a car emergency kit in your vehicle and keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
  • Identify your pet with up-to-date name tags and rabies tags; include your cell phone number on the tag. Or, your pet can be micro-chipped, and most vets or animal control agencies can scan the chip to help locate the owner.
  • Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
  • Leave the heat on in your home and set the thermostat to no lower than 50° Fahrenheit If you will be going away during cold weather.
  • Practice safe cooking behaviors since cooking is the biggest cause of home fires and fire injuries.
  • Consider using battery-operated flameless candles.

Maryland Winter Safety Week runs through Sunday, December 8.