Staying safe and healthy over winter break

CSUMB Emergency Manager, Ken Folsom | Photo by Florenz Tuazon

CSUMB Emergency Manager, Ken Folsom | Photo by Florenz Tuazon

December 12, 2022

By Amanda E. Snyder

Between COVID-19, RSV, unpredictable weather and other concerns, this winter offers more than a few challenges when it comes to staying safe and healthy. Luckily, there are several resources available through the CSUMB community to help you stay in good health and out of harm’s way.

At the top of everyone’s mind is the “triple-demic” of the flu, the respiratory virus RSV and COVID-19. Amy Thomas, the Director for Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management, points the campus community to the CDC’s updated masking guidance, which can be helpful in preventing all three illnesses. Among that guidance is to wear a mask in areas where there is a high rate of COVID-19 or other illnesses, in public places where there are a lot of people or when you are around people who have vulnerable immune systems.

In addition, with winter comes winter weather, which can mean slick roads and poor visibility. Thomas shared a link to the Department of Transportation’s “Winter Weather Driving Tips.” These include basics like slowing down in unpredictable conditions, inspecting your tire pressure regularly and before a longer drive, checking the battery condition and ensuring that your car is stocked with necessities like windshield wiper fluid and fresh oil.

While winter break means going home for many students, there are still a number of students on campus over the holidays. For those still on campus, fewer people and less daylight can present additional risks. Deputy Chief of the CSUMB Police Department John Short directs people to the Police Department’s Personal Safety webpage. Tips there include utilizing the university’s Night Walk service, which escorts anyone, regardless of their affiliation with CSUMB, between any locations on the main campus. The webpage highlights other strategies that are good for any time of year, such as keeping emergency numbers programmed in your phone, locking all doors and windows even if you will only be gone for a few minutes and keeping house and car keys on separate rings.

From candles to Christmas trees to cooking, the risk of fires over the holiday season increases.  Emergency Manager Ken Folsom directs people to the National Fire Protection Association’s information about fire risks over the winter holidays and how to avoid them. Some strategies include using battery-operated candles instead of real candles and to always be alert and focused when you are cooking or baking for the holidays. In addition, if you have a real Christmas tree, be sure to water it daily, keep it at least three feet from heat sources and always turn off Christmas lights before leaving or going to bed.

In addition, Folsom recommends that no matter what your plans are for the holidays, whether on campus, at home or on the road, having an emergency plan and an emergency preparedness kit is key. While emergencies cannot always be avoided, being prepared for them can make a significant difference.