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What to Keep in Your Winter Car Kit

Winter-DrivingAs a safety-conscious skier, snowboarder, or trekker, you never set out on an off-trail or backwoods adventure without making sure you have some basic emergency supplies in your pack. Your first-aid kit, avalanche beacon and probe, two-way radio, and compass are just a few of the items that accompany you on every single outing.

This attention to safety equipment should also extend to your vehicle. That’s because winter driving conditions, which can be dangerous even on well-tended city thoroughfares, may turn out to be downright treacherous on the twisty mountain roads that lead to the best powder. So before driving to your next snowy destination, take some time to load your trunk with the following:

  • Five-pound bag of sand or kitty litter to aid with traction
  • Jumper cables
  • Tow rope or straps
  • Spare tire or puncture repair kit
  • Extra cell phone (fully charged up before each trip) and charger
  • Energy bars and similar nonperishable food items
  • Portable camp stove with fuel source
  • Waterproof matches
  • Emergency flares
  • Battery-heated jacket and gloves
  • Blanket or sleeping bag suitable for use in freezing temperatures

In addition to the above, we recommend that you keep bottled water somewhere in your vehicle’s cabin area so it doesn’t freeze and is always ready to drink.

The limited space in your backpack means you don’t have enough room to carry all the critical gear needed to deal with winter roadside emergencies. Make sure you’re prepared for anything that might happen en route to your outdoor adventure by stocking your vehicle with the supplies listed here.

Ice Safety for Businesses

ice safety for businessWhen it comes to ice safety in the winter, business owners have to worry about more than just the possibility of employee slip-and-falls. They also have to worry about the possibility of customers, vendors, and other visitors getting injured on the premises due to slippery conditions.

In many municipalities across the country, property owners are legally obligated to keep walkways, driveways, and sidewalks clear of snow and ice. Failure to do so could result in costly litigation should a non-employee sustain an injury, which is why it’s a good idea to take the following precautions:

  • Carefully monitor the weather forecast so you’ll always be prepared to deal with heavy snow and freezing temperatures. Gas up the snow blower, have extra shovels on hand, and stock up on rock salt ahead of impending storms.
  • Make it a habit to inspect and clear your most heavily trafficked walkways on a daily basis. Examine the concrete or asphalt for bulges, cracks, and other abnormalities, and either fix the problem immediately or block off the area until the weather permits you to make repairs.
  • Don’t forget to check handrails and guardrails to ensure they are sturdy enough to act as a stabilizing aid for pedestrians. Again, replace or repair as needed, and keep the tops clear of ice and snow.
  • Provide extra lighting in parking lots, walkways, and entryways to compensate for the shortened daylight hours of winter.
  • Keep your vestibule, lobby, and hallways dry by laying out rubber mats and carpets to trap snow, sleet, and ice from visitors’ For best results, safety experts recommend extending the mats at least 15 to 20 feet from the doorway into the building.

While business owners can compel employees to adhere to winter safety rules, and supply them with ice cleats, it’s simply not possible to force visitors to exercise caution or wear traction devices. Nevertheless, you are on the hook for everyone’s safety and well-being, so help prevent accidents by taking the steps listed here.

How to Choose the Right Heated Pet Bed

Buying a heated pet bed for your dog or cat is an effective and affordable solution to keeping your furry companion warm throughout the winter months. But with so many terrific CozyWinters products to choose from, it can be a bit overwhelming for you as a first-time buyer to select the best one. That’s why we’ve put together this brief guide of key points to bear in mind as you shop our site.


Location

cat bedOne important consideration is where the pet bed will be used. Beds designed for outdoor use, including the Thermo-Doggy Cuddle Cushion and the Thermo-Kitty Sleephouse Cat Bed rely on electricity to generate heat, and therefore must be located near a 120V power supply. Indoor beds, on the other hand, may use special insulation to absorb and reradiate heat from your pet’s body without the need for electricity. Examples of self-warming beds include our Lounge Sleeper Dog Bed and Nuzzle Nest pet bed.

kh-1070-1090_HMaterial

Pet beds tend to be made of materials such as fleece, microsuede, memory foam, nylon, or heavy-duty vinyl, and may come with a removable cover that can be machine-washed. We suggest choosing a more durable material if you plan to use the bed outdoors or if your pet typically exhibits destructive chewing/clawing behavior. You can go with softer materials for indoor use, or select memory foam for older pets with arthritis or mobility issues.

Pet Bed Warmers

kh-002-004_BIf your dog or cat already has a favorite bed and is unlikely to be receptive to a new one, you can try using a simple bed warmer instead. This kind of product, which is available in four different sizes, runs on electricity and can be placed under the top cover of an existing pet bed to add warmth when needed.

In addition to the above points, don’t forget to examine the size and style of the prospective bed to ensure that your pet will have plenty of room to get comfortable and that it will be able to climb in and out easily.

Now that you have a better idea of what to look for in a heated pet bed, visit CozyWinters.com today to check out our entire line of warming products for dogs and cats.

5 Tips for Taking Care of Ski Boots

Now that ski season is in full swing, you’re taking advantage of every opportunity available to you to head to the mountains and carve up the slopes. This means your gear will be getting used on a fairly regular basis for the next few months, and will require lots of maintenance to ensure top performance. Ski boots in particular always suffer plenty of abuse, so here are 5 care tips that will help them last through this winter and beyond:

  1. dry guyRemove the liners after each use to wash them by hand and/or let them air dry. This will prevent bacteria from building up in the lining fabric and producing foul odors. When quicker turnaround is needed, use a boot dryer like the DryGuy DG1 Boot & Glove Dryer from CozyWinters to take care of the process in record time. If desired, follow up with a Febreeze-type fabric spray to enhance the fresh, clean scent.
  2. Similarly, wipe down the inside of your boot shells after each use to dry them out and inhibit mold growth.
  3. Use clean and dry socks at the beginning of each ski session. Reusing dirty socks is the quickest way to introduce funk to your boots and erase all the good you did by washing the liners and cleaning the shells.
  4. Avoid walking in your ski socks in public areas in the lodge, including the lobby, lounge, and cafeteria. The floors in those spaces are typically filthy, and can contaminate your socks—and then your boots—in short order.
  5. Be careful about potential wear and tear on the toes and heels of your boots. These are the areas that get locked down into your bindings, so any damage in the form of dings and dents could end up affecting the boot’s secure fit on your skis as well as their ease of release.

Spending just a few minutes tending to your ski boots after each outing will keep them looking (and smelling) good all season long, so follow the above tips and be extra mindful about how you treat your footwear.

Tips for Preventing and Removing Pet Hair Buildup

A pet can be a wonderful addition to any family. Dogs, cats, and other furry critters make for extremely loyal companions that bring unbounded joy, love, and energy into your home.

Unfortunately, they also bring a decent amount of hair and dander as well, which can make a mess of furniture and carpets or exacerbate allergies. To stop the inevitable shedding from overtaking your home, here are some important tips on how to prevent and remove pet hair buildup:

  • dog on couch pet hairTo stop pet hair from getting on your most expensive pieces of furniture, cover those items with fitted slipcovers or restrict access to the room by closing the door or installing a baby gate.
  • Provide your pet with its own bed to help reduce the temptation to jump on the sofa or recliner. Heated dog beds, cat beds, and pet mats with washable fleece covers are a comfy and affordable alternative.
  • Invest in a good vacuum cleaner with strong suctioning power that is rated for pet hair pickup. When vacuuming carpets, go over each area at least two times in different directions to help loosen and remove hair.
  • If your current vacuum leaves behind too much pet hair, follow up with a squeegee. Firmly scrape the rubber end along the top of your carpet to gather all the fur remnants, repeating as necessary.
  • To quickly remove pet hair from upholstered furniture, put on a pair of lightly dampened rubber dishwashing gloves. Run your gloved hands over the fabric to collect the hair, rinsing and repeating as often as necessary.
  • Reduce shedding by frequently brushing your pet, keeping his coat clipped short, or using a de-shedding tool.

There’s no getting around the fact that a majority of dogs and cats shed copious amounts of fur throughout the year, but that doesn’t mean your furniture and carpets have to be permanently coated in pet hair. Using separate pet beds, buying a good vacuum cleaner, and maintaining a regular grooming schedule are just a few tips you can try for preventing and removing pet hair buildup.

How to Enforce Employee Safety

Now that you’re committed to making employee safety a priority this year, the next step is to actually enforce the rules. This effort will likely be met with resistance and more than a bit of grumbling from employees—especially if laxity had been a big part of the prevailing culture—but is a quick and effective way to promote the sought-after changes. Here’s how to get started:

  • enforce employee safetySpell out all safety rules and regulations in the employee handbook or in a separate document, and distribute the materials to all personnel. Require employees to sign a document stating that they have read the rules and agree to abide by them.
  • Update the company’s safety rules annually or whenever new equipment or procedures are introduced.
  • Post the most critical safety rules on signs in break rooms, locker rooms, the cafeteria, and other areas where employees tend to congregate.
  • Have clearly articulated consequences for not following safety rules (e.g. a verbal warning for the first offense, a written warning for the second offense, etc.) so employees understand the immediate repercussions of noncompliance.
  • Provide supervisors, managers, and others in positions of authority with guidelines on when and how to issue warnings for safety violations, as well as extra training on how to apply the rules in a fair and consistent manner.
  • Incentivize the process of developing good safety habits by offering small rewards, such as free coffee and donuts at breakfast or a pizza party at lunch, when certain milestones are reached. Use a large signboard to keep track of the number of days without an accident and hang it in a prominent location to stoke motivation.

Even the sincerest commitment to employee safety will ultimately ring hollow in the absence of a systematic way to enforce all policies. Use the above tips to promote compliance with safety rules and change employee attitudes and behaviors in your workplace.

Winter Motorcycle Tips

For most motorcycle enthusiasts, winter is a time to be dreaded. It signals the onset of several months of unpredictable weather, high winds, and icy roads, all of which are significantly more dangerous for bikes than for cars or trucks, and usually forces riders to put their machines into storage until spring.

But for those motorcyclists lucky enough to live in areas where the roads remain relatively clear all year round, winter becomes just another riding season—albeit one that requires more effort to protect against the elements. Here are some tips for how to do so:

  • motorcycle snowDress appropriately for the weather, beginning with a snug-fitting base layer and ending with a leather or windproof/waterproof outer layer to help you stay warm and dry during the ride.
  • Use heated clothing, such as the WarmGear 12V black leather gloves, heated jacket liner, heated pants liner, and heated socks from CozyWinters, to help keep your blood circulating and maintain feeling in your hands and feet.
  • Wear a balaclava under your helmet to protect your neck and face from the wind. You might also want to wear a half-mask over the balaclava to prevent your visor from fogging up and hindering visibility.
  • Consider installing a windshield or wind deflectors on the bike to redirect the flow of frigid air away from your body.
  • If you typically use racing tires on your bike, now is the time to revert to an all-season model. Riding with the right tires will improve traction and handling on a variety of road conditions at lower winter temperatures.
  • Take a look at your engine oil as well. Some manufacturers recommend switching to thinner oil in the winter to aid with start-up and improve cold-weather performance.

By following these winter motorcycle tips, you can extend your riding season and get more enjoyment out of your bike no matter what the thermometer says. Just remember to exercise extra caution during your winter rides since car drivers probably aren’t expecting to see motorcycles at this time of year.

Gearing Up for Ski Season

Winer woman skiNow that winter is in full swing across the country, it’s finally time to welcome back the skiing season. If you’re brand new to the sport, here are the minimum gear and training requirements you’ll need before getting started:

Apparel

The purpose of skiing apparel is to keep you warm and dry in all kinds of weather without inhibiting your range of motion. To accomplish this, we suggest:

  • A base layer made of moisture-wicking “performance” fabric
  • A mid-weight layer made of fleece or a similar material
  • Long skiing socks to help provide ankle and arch support while eliminating chafing from boots
  • Waterproof and windproof ski jacket and pants for warmth and protection against the snow
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Knit cap or beanie

If you’re going out on a particularly cold day, you might also consider using a battery-heated vest or battery-heated gloves for an extra level of comfort in the extreme conditions.

Equipment

Newcomers to skiing are encouraged to rent equipment the first few times out to ensure that they enjoy the sport sufficiently enough to warrant investing in their own gear. However, if you want to buy your own equipment now, be prepared to purchase:

  • A pair of Skis with bindings
  • Ski boots
  • Ski helmet
  • Goggles

In addition, a boot and glove dryer like the DryGuy DG1 Widebody model we carry at CozyWinters is ideal for quickly drying your apparel and equipment during full-day or multi-day excursions.

Fitness and conditioning

Skiing is a physically demanding sport, even if you stick to the beginner’s slopes. While you don’t have to be in Olympic shape to begin skiing, it would be very beneficial to take a few weeks to work on your fitness and conditioning to reduce your chances of injury. Specifically, we recommend exercises that:

  • Strengthen your core
  • Improve your balance
  • Strain your cardiovascular system
  • Increase your agility
  • Tax your endurance

Lessons

First-timers should make it a point to take lessons before tackling the slopes for solo runs. Beginner’s sessions cover basic yet important techniques such as how to balance on the skis, shift your weight, turn, stop, fall safely, and stand up after falling.

Having a fantastic first experience with skiing naturally increases your chances of digging the sport and making many return trips to the mountains. To give yourself the best shot of producing these results, be sure to gear up according to the above recommendations before you go.

Tips for Making Employee Safety a Priority in the New Year

icy stairsIt’s no secret that slip-and-fall accidents are a leading cause of employee absence and decreased productivity in the workplace or that these mishaps are also responsible for an overwhelming percentage of annual worker’s compensation claims. Data and statistics supporting these statements are widely available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, OSHA, and other organizations, and the incident files in your own HR department probably tell a similar tale.

With all that you know about the dangers of slick surfaces in the workplace, it’s time to get serious about enforcing employee compliance with safety rules. Here are some effective tips for making workplace safety a priority in the New Year:

  • Do whatever is necessary to ensure the safety program has the full support of management. If top-level employees continually look the other way and fail to enforce the rules, then unsafe behaviors are not likely to change.
  • Rewrite the company’s safety manuals or employee handbooks to make important safety protocols, such as wearing ice cleats in winter, mandatory. Simply saying that safety gear is “recommended” is not enough to guarantee compliance.
  • Place high visibility warning signs in areas that are particularly susceptible to slip-and-fall accidents, including icy sidewalks, slick loading docks, slippery steps, and narrow walkways.
  • Encourage employees to treat hazards themselves by making rock salt, sand, sawdust, floor mats, and other remedies readily accessible near known trouble spots.
  • Consider assembling and training a “safety team” made up of interested employees. These safety team members can help with monitoring workspaces in real time and can offer reminders or tips when they see breaches of safety protocols.

Workplace safety should be a priority in every organization, particularly those that have already experienced the loss of work days, productivity, and employee morale due to preventable slip-and-fall accidents. Make this year different by implementing the above tips to promote compliance with all safety rules.

Pet Safety for the Holidays

dog-in-christmas-lights-480x300Festive decorations, tempting foods, and heaping piles of presents are just a few of the things that make the holiday season special. But while these Christmas staples are pleasing to humans, they can pose unique dangers to household pets. So as you go about decking the halls, trimming the tree, and whipping up tasty treats, keep the following pet safety tips in mind:

  • When decorating your home with traditional Christmas plants such as mistletoe, poinsettia, and holly, keep them off the ground and well out of the way of pets. These plants and their leaves/berries are toxic to dogs and cats, and may cause mild to severe vomiting, diarrhea, and other intestinal problems if eaten.
  • Cover or hide any extra electrical cords used to power holiday lights, moving figures, and similar decor, especially if your pet is a chewer. Pets can receive electrical shocks or tongue lacerations if they break through the outer coating and expose the internal wires of electrical cords. (If you can’t keep cords out of reach, we carry the CritterCord Cord Protector at CozyWinters.com.)
  • Beware of placing shiny ornaments or long strands of tinsel on the lower branches of your Christmas tree. These items can be very alluring to curious pets, but are a serious choking hazard.
  • Do not leave burning candles unattended in any room. It’s all too easy for a dog or cat to burn its whiskers, tail, or paws while passing by or inadvertently knock over a candle and perhaps start a fire.
  • Refrain from giving your pet holiday treats containing chocolate, certain nuts (including walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts), and raw eggs or nutmeg (think eggnog), all of which can cause a variety of health issues ranging from upset stomach to tremors, seizures, and abnormal behavior.
  • Do not allow pets to play with gift wrapping accessories such as ribbons and bows since these items can cause intestinal blockage if swallowed.
  • If traveling with your pet, make sure they are kept secure while in moving vehicles.

The holidays are a time for celebrating with family and loved ones, including pets. If you have dogs, cats, or other furry creatures in your home, take extra care to keep them safe amidst all of these seasonal hazards.

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