Fall is a wonderful time of year. The leaves are changing, the kids are back to school, there’s football to watch, apples to pick (and eat!), pumpkins to carve, and the weather is especially pleasant — lower humidity, fewer bugs, and better sleeping temperatures. What’s not to love?
But fall is not without its share of hazards. Here are some tips to be prepared for whatever weather challenges may come your way this season:
In short, never drive through floodwaters! Fall can often times bring with it rainy weather, and heavy rains can be a common occurrence as September and October are still part of hurricane season. So if you encounter fast moving water or a flooded roadway as you are driving or walking, it’s best to turn around and find another route. Abide by the “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” adage. You do not know the conditions under the water. All it takes is 6 inches of moving water to make you fall. And keep children and pets from playing in floodwater.
Leaves, while pretty, can pose hazards for motorists. Fallen leaves can gather on roadways and when they become wet, they can create very slick conditions. Add freezing temperatures to the mix and your vehicle will have zero tracking, similar to driving on an icy road. In addition, leaves can cover important road markings (double yellow lines, for example) or deep pot holes. So it’s important to slow down when driving on a leaf-covered roadway. And always give yourself plenty of room between you and the cars around you in case anyone has to stop short.
Children often play in leaf piles so be alert! Never drive through a pile of leaves.
Many “leaf peepers” are out on the roadways and many can be distracted by foliage vistas. Be alert to what other motorists are doing.
Keep your windshield free of leaves so as to not obstruct your view. And if you see dried leaves peeking out from under the hood of your car, take a moment to pop it and clear them away before you take your trip as they can obstruct ventilation holes and overheat your vehicle.
With the days getting shorter, visibility when driving in the fall can be a challenge. Many people walk along the side of the road at dusk with dogs, on horses or riding bicycles, and they can be difficult to see. School is also in session so kids are out playing. Mornings tend to be foggy. Additionally, fall is a time when wildlife is more active and on the move. Slow down when driving, especially on curvy or narrow roads where visibility around corners is difficult, and pay attention to postings for animal crossings, and obey school zone speed limits.
Fall foliage hikes are fabulous. If you take a hike, be prepared for weather changes as you increase elevation. It may be sunny at the base of the mountain but it could be cold and rainy or even snowy at the summit. Dress in layers, and bring a wind breaker or waterproof shell, plenty of water, and never hike alone.
Many people like to take fall boat rides to see peak foliage. Even if things seem calm on the water, everyone on board should wear a life jacket. Being submerged in water of any temperature for any length of time can cause hypothermia and even the strongest swimmer can be weakened.
Here are a few more maintenance items to do this fall for safety:
- Get your furnace serviced. Before winter arrives, it’s a good idea to call a professional to do your annual furnace servicing now. Your furnace is by far the most important appliance in your home. Have the filters cleaned or replaced. Check to see if you have an annual service contract, which will greatly bring down costs on this important maintenance step.
- Fire Safety. When we “fall back” is the time when everyone should replace the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. It’s also a good idea to have a working fire extinguisher in the house, and everyone who lives there should be familiar with how it works. Hold a Fire Safety Meeting with family members and go over the steps. Do not do any outdoor burning when fire dangers are high. Flying embers can travel and start fires. Never leave candles unattended, especially in Jack-O-Lanterns or on table centerpieces.
- Fireplaces. Get your chimney inspected every fall. Hire a chimney sweep to clean out your chimney of debris, nests, etc. before your light your first fire. Use the fireplace screens to protect from flying sparks and embers. Never pour lighter fluid, kerosene or gasoline on a fireplace, and never leave a fireplace unattended.