Winter safety, be prepared at home and on the road
Mike Lawrence - Staff Writer
And they’re back. Those wintry white flakes might make school children giddy, but for some adults the reaction might be a bit less enthusiastic.
Our northern winters can present their own set of challenges and knowing how to stay safe when the temperature drops is essential. Whether on the road or at home, it pays to remember some of these basic winter safety tips both when at home and when travelling.
Keeping safe at home is just as important as keeping safe on the roadways. The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) offers these reminders. Test smoke alarms and ensure they are in good working order. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment or fireplaces. Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned yearly by a qualified professional. When using seasonal decorations, use CSA approved lights and fire-resistant materials. If putting up an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled as fire resistant, and if using a live tree, choose one that appears fresh, set it up away from heat sources, and ensure the stand is kept filled with water.
Robert Popovic, Emergency Services Manager for the Municipality of Sioux Lookout, shared, “Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, tasteless and toxic gas and is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’. As per Ontario Fire Code, every house with a fuel-burning applicant is required to have a working CO alarm in your home. Do not operate a gas-powered generator or propane heater inside your house. Keep your chimneys clean, and have them inspected by a WETT certified professional on an annual basis. Fire Prevention Week occurred recently, but let’s keep checking the smoke alarm throughout the year. Have a home escape plan, share it with everyone in the house, and then practice the plan annually. Avoid using burning candles in your home, and if you decide to use them, extinguish them if you are not in the same room as them. During your drive this winter, be prepared to adjust your driving with changing road conditions. Travel can be hazardous due to sudden changes in the weather and consider changing your non-essential travel until conditions improve.
“With winter arriving, weather can bring power outages or other disasters that may require you to leave your home. Be prepared for any emergency, have a ‘go’ bag ready. More information available at: https://www.getprepared.gc.ca/”
For more winter home safety tips visit the OAFC website at https://www.oafc.on.ca/winter-fire-safety-tips.
Travelling in winter presents its own set of challenges. Living in Sioux Lookout means months of potential snowy driving conditions. Whether someone is a seasoned driver or new to the road, here are some simple reminders on how we can all stay safe once roads become slippery. Before you travel, you can check winter road conditions in our region online at https://511on.ca/, or by phone by dialing 511.
The Government of Canada’s website (https://www.getprepared.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/sfttps/tp201002-en.aspx) offers some tips on being ready for winter driving. These include slowing down, leaving plenty of space between moving vehicles, getting winter tires, keeping washer fluids topped up with fluids that are cold weather rated to -40C, keeping your vehicle’s fuel tank at least half full, and clear all snow off of your vehicle before travel.
The website also recommends keeping an emergency car kit stored in the vehicle. This would include such items as food that won’t spoil (energy bars, etc.), water in plastic bottles, a blanket, extra clothing, a first aid kit, a small shovel, scraper and snow brush, candles with matches (in a deep can), a crank flashlight, an emergency whistle, and roadmaps. Additional items to keep in the trunk include sand, salt, or non-clumping cat litter, a tow rope, jumper cables, a fire extinguisher, and a warning light or road flares.
It also pays to be aware of local winter parking restrictions. As per Municipal bylaw, “Effective November 1, 2021 to April 15, 2022 parking is prohibited in the Downtown Core between the hours of 3:00 a.m. – 7:00 a.m. All other Municipal streets and laneways will have parking restrictions between the hours of midnight and 7:00 a.m.”