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Winter is almost here. Many are preparing for the upcoming holidays and looking forward to snowball fights, wood crackling in the fireplace, winter sports and more. But the magic of a winter wonderland can bring hazards. Snow shovelling alone spikes emergency room visits each year—and a study out of Queens University found that seven percent of patients reporting heart problems started to notice symptoms while shovelling snow. There are more than 120,000 annual traffic accidents that cause injury across the country, with many occurring when snow, sleet, slush or ice are present. And sadly, the harsh winter cold and storms are responsible for more than 100 deaths in Canada each year.All Canadians encounter winter weather-related hazards at some point in time. Storms and blizzards, extreme cold, snow, frost and wind chills pose threats to residents from coast to coast. Preparing for Old Man Winter can help mitigate its threats and keep community members safe and warm this winter season. Share these winter safety tips with your agency and all it serves:

  • Snow removal: Shovelling and snow blowing are strenuous jobs that are made even more so for those not used to physical activity. The exertion, coupled with extreme cold—which increases both heart rate and blood pressure—can strain the heart, especially in older, inactive adults. Toronto Paramedic Services recommends not shovelling after eating or while smoking, pushing snow rather than lifting it, and taking it slow and allowing for frequent breaks

Your heart isn’t the only thing needing protection. Keep hypothermia and frostbite at bay when Jack Frost comes nipping. Dress in multiple layers of warm, breathable clothing—layers trap air that serves as a protective insulator. And be sure to throw on a hat to keep your head warm. Include these snow-removal safety tips, imprinted on a hot chocolate packet, with your annual snow-removal guideline mailers and announcements.

  • On the road: Driving in winter can be hazardous for a number of reasons. Although you can’t control the weather, you can prepare to drive in it. Transport Canada recommends having your car serviced prior to winter’s arrival to check the radiator, anti-freeze level and tire tread. Add cold-weather windshield washer fluid and keep gas tanks full to avoid ice build-up in the lines and tank. Also, be sure to prepare or restock your car’s winter emergency kit—include extra warm clothes, blankets, food and water, jumper cables, a small shovel, first-aid kit, flashlight and sand or cat litter.Post these safety tips to social media outlets and ask friends and followers to make a pledge to add these items to their car before the snow falls. Reward participants with an entry into a drawing for a free auto safety kit or Travel Blanket.
  • At home: When the weather outside is frightful, many prefer to stay put. To keep safe indoors, have your heating system, fireplace and chimney professionally checked to ensure good working order and safe ventilation to the outdoors. It is also a good idea to install a carbon monoxide (CO) detector and/or check and replace its batteries. Stock food and water in case weather conditions make travel impossible, and assemble or restock a winter emergency kit prior to a storm. Include extra first-aid items and medication, pet food and baby supplies, batteries, flashlights or lanterns, a weather radio and a safe alternate heat source.Post your winter emergency kit checklist online and imprint the URL on Pocket First Aid Kits that can be distributed at local libraries, seniors’ centres, health departments and more. Encourage participants to download your checklist by entering them in a prize draw for a Pop Light Twist Lantern or MagLite® flashlight.

Winter is coming—it is inevitable. Share these tips with your entire community to keep everyone safe and warm this upcoming season. Then, let it snow!

 

Chai, Carmen. “Slipping on your back, breaking bones or triggering a heart attack: Should you be shovelling the winter snow?Global News. Shaw Media, Inc. 08 Feb. 2013. Web. Retrieved 29 Sept. 2015.

Canadian Motor Vehicle Traffic Collision Statistics: 2013.Transport Canada. Published 2015. Web. Retrieved 29 Sept. 2015.

How Do Weather Events Impact Roads?” U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 17 Sept. 2015.

Being Prepared for Winter.Environment Canada. N.p. n.d. Web. Retrieved 29 Sept. 2015.

Winter Storms & Extreme Cold.” Ready.gov. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 17 Sept. 2015.

NWS Winter Storm Safety Home Page.” National Weather Service. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 17 Sept. 2015.

Why Do People Die Shoveling Snow?” National Safety Council. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 17 Sept. 2015.

Snow Shovelling.Toronto Paramedic Services. N.p. n.d. Web. Retrieved 29 Sept. 2015.

“Shoveling Snow Health Hazards.” American Heart Association. N.p., 23 Mar. 2015. Web. Retrieved 17 Sept. 2015.

Be Prepared to Stay Safe and Healthy in Winter.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 02 Feb. 2015. Web. Retrieved 17 Sept. 2015.


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