Winter Driving Safety
When driving in winter months, it is critical to stay alert, slow down and stay in control – drive according to the weather and road conditions. Be aware of other vehicles around you, maintain a safe following distance.
At the start of the season, consider a winter tune-up for your vehicle, including having your tires checked for roadworthiness.
Stay off the road unless it is absolutely necessary that you drive. If you have to drive, take the right steps to prepare for your trip:
- Clear the snow and ice from your vehicle - windows, lights, mirrors and the roof.
- Once you start your vehicle, wait for the fog to clear from the inside of the windows to ensure visibility all around.
- Wear comfortable clothing that doesn't restrict your movement while driving.
- Plan your route ahead of time. Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to arrive. Allow extra time for travel.
It takes longer to stop on slippery or icy roads. Leave extra space between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead.
Look far ahead to observe road conditions and adjust your driving according to conditions.
Certain sections of road (bridges, overpasses, shaded areas) will freeze much sooner in cold weather and stay frozen longer. Watch out for icy patches on the road, areas that appear black and shiny.
Turn on your vehicle’s full lighting system.
If you experience car trouble - stay in your vehicle:
Run the motor every ten minutes for heat and open a window occasionally for fresh air.
Tie a bright cloth to your car for visibility.
If you have to get out of your vehicle, be careful of traffic.
Keep your body warm by moving your feet, hands and arms.
Do not attempt to walk home if you have car problems. Winter conditions can change quickly, and you may become disoriented and unable to find your way in blowing snow.
Snow plows will often have flashing lights. Snow plows and trucks with salt and sand will travel slower than regular traffic. Remember that the sight lines and visibility for snow plow and truck drivers may be reduced by weather conditions. It is never safe to pass a snow plow. The road surface behind the plow is better than the surface in front of it. When approaching snow plows or salt/sand trucks from behind, slow down, stay back and be patient.
Make the right call when you see an emergency vehicle with flashing red and blue lights and a siren. Signal, and then pull to the right.
If you are approaching a stopped emergency vehicle with its lights flashing, you should slow down and pass with caution. If it is safe to do so, you should move over into another lane to allow more space for the emergency vehicle.
The winter months can provide opportunities for fun outdoor activities, but also more gruelling and potentially dangerous outdoor maintenance responsibilities.
Did you know that when snow shovelling, it is possible that your ene
rgy output from shovelling can exceed what your body is capable of producing?
But there’s more than just strength and stamina at play here. Many people work outside without proper clothing, particularly without hats or scarves. The body loses a significant amount of heat through the head and neck. If someone is shovelling snow on a very cold day without a hat, the body works very hard and expends even more energy to try and stay warm. This factor, combined with the fact that a person might not be physically fit to tackle the driveway with a shovel, could produce enough stress to cause a serious medical condition.
To minimize the effects of shovelling:
Don’t shovel snow after smoking, or eating a heavy meal – these activities all put an extra load on your cardiovascular system.
- Dress in layers so clothing can be peeled off as the body becomes warm. Overheating puts extra strain on the heart.
- Wear a scarf over your nose and mouth to avoid breathing cold air.
- Wear a hat to retain body heat.
- Pace yourself, taking frequent breaks.
- Shovel safely by bending legs slightly at the knee, letting thigh muscles do most of the pushing and lifting work; this will reduce strain on the heart and on the back. Use a shovel with a small scoop and keep loads light and small.
Winter Power Outages
In winter, power supply interruptions can last from a few hours to several days. They are often caused by severe winter storms that may bring freezing rain, large snowfalls and high winds that can cause damage to the infrastructure supplying power to our homes.
Here are some tips that can help you plan to protect yourself and your family.
Before an outage:
- Check flashlights and battery-powered portable radios to ensure that they are working, and that you have extra batteries. A radio is an important source of weather and emergency information during a storm.
- Make sure that your home is properly insulated. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows to keep cold air out.
- Keep an emergency supply kit that will sustain your family for a minimum of 3 days and preferably for seven days.
During an outage:
- Do not use charcoal or gas barbecues, camping heating equipment or home generators indoors. They give off carbon monoxide, which can cause serious health problems and even death.
- Do not use gas appliances such as stoves as a source of heat as they will deplete the oxygen in your home.
- Leave one light switch on so you know when power is restored.
- Dress for the season, wearing several light layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing, rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
After an outage:
- Be extra cautious if you go outside to inspect for damage after a storm. Downed or hanging electrical wires can be hidden by snowdrifts, trees or debris, and could be live. Never attempt to touch or move downed lines. Keep children and pets away from them.
- Check with and help your neighbours and continue to stay off the streets when hazards are present.
- Restock and regularly inspect your emergency survival kit so the supplies will be there when needed again.