Just in time for Thanksgiving, the American Red Cross is offering several tips to make sure Oklahomans have a safe holiday.
Many Oklahomans will hit the road to visit family and friends. The American Red Cross has steps they can follow to help make sure they have a safe trip. These tips are also important as Oklahoma prepares for upcoming winter weather.
The holiday is also a time when cooks spend a lot of time in the kitchen and there are tips they can use to avoid a cooking fire while whipping up their Thanksgiving dinner.
DRIVING TO GRANDMA’S HOUSE
Check the weather along your route and plan for travel around any storms that may be coming. Watch weather predictions for your entire route so you know what to expect along the way.
- Buckle up, slow down, don’t drive impaired.
- Be well rested and alert.
- Follow the rules of the road.
- Use caution in work zones.
- Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
- Observe speed limits – driving too fast or too slow can increase your chance of being in a collision.
- Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
- Don’t follow another vehicle too closely.
- Clean your headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows to help you see, especially at night.
- Turn your headlights on as dusk approaches, or if you are using your windshield wipers due to inclement weather.
- Don’t overdrive your headlights.
- If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.
?If winter weather threatens and you become stuck in the snow, these tips are for you:
- Stay with the car. Do not try to walk to safety.
- Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
- Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
- Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running to help rescuers see the vehicle.
- Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.
- Carry an emergency preparedness kit in the trunk.
- Keep your car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
Heat sources such as space heaters, fireplaces or wood and coal stoves can pose a fire hazard, and fatal fires peak in the early morning hours when most people are sleeping. To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends the following tips:
- All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
- Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
- Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, and chimneys inspected annually by a professional, and cleaned if necessary.
- If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.
- Heeding Flood Warnings: Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated flood information. A flood WATCH means flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area. A food WARNING means flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area. When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
- Relocating During Flood Warnings: Stay away from flood waters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankle, stop, turn around and go another way. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
- Keep children and pets out of the water, as they are curious and can be harmed by flowing or contaminated water.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
Cooks should avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while preparing the holiday meal. Never leave the stove unattended – if the cook has to leave the kitchen even for a short time, they should turn off the stove. More cooking safety steps are:
- Check food regularly.
- Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
- Keep children and pets away from the cooking area.
- Keep anything that can catch fire - pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from the stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
- Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
- Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen.
- Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority issued a Winter Weather Advisory ahead of Thanksgiving weekend. The organization asks Oklahomans to be winter weather aware as they make their travel plans.
If you must travel during inclement weather, travel at reduced speeds and keep a safe distance between vehicles.
Pack water, blankets, jumper cables and flashlights. Remember to check the organization's Twitter page @OKTurnpike, Facebook page, visit PikePass.com or call the Turnpike Road Condition hot line 1-877-403-7623 for up-to-date road conditions before you go.