Winter weather brings cold temperatures and wet conditions to Norfolk County. Review these tips to help you prepare for winter.

 

  • Layer clothing
  • Build breathable (cotton, wool) clothing layers to include thermal underwear, undershirt, tracksuits, sweaters, snowsuits, winter boots, hats, mittens and scarves.
  • Cover exposed skin
  • Exposed skin can become frostbitten in as little as 30 seconds, always cover exposed skin especially when the wind is a factor.
  • Keep moving: try to limit the time sitting. Stand up and move around to allow circulation to reach better reach all body parts.
  • Blankets and portable seat/cushion: sitting on cold pavement or concrete can increase the risk of hypothermia. Sitting on a blanket or portable seat will limit the risk.
  • Drink fluid— dehydration can occur even when the temperature is below freezing.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages — alcohol diminishes the body’s ability to feel the cold and can cause an increased exposure time.
Signs of hypothermia —
    • confusion, lethargy, weakness, apathy, pale skin colour.
Signs of frostbite—
    • pale grey, waxy textured skin in affected area cold to the touch, numbness and localized pain, swelling and blistering.
  • Consumers must know that portable generators can be hazardous if used improperly. The hazards are:
    • Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust and
    • Electrocution from connecting the generator to the home electrical wiring system.
  • To avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning:
    • Never use a generator indoors or in attached garages.
    • Only operate the generator outdoors in a well-ventilated, dry area, away from air intakes to the home, and protected from direct exposure to rain and snow, preferably under a canopy, open shed, or carport.
  • To avoid electrocution:
    • Plug individual appliances into the generator using heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords with a wire gauge adequate for the appliance load.
    • Observe the generator manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation.
    • Do not plug the generator into a wall outlet.
    • If connecting the generator into the house wiring is necessary, have a qualified electrician hook up the standby electrical system, or have the local utility install a linking device if available.
  • Never store gasoline in the home.
    • Gasoline, kerosene and other flammable liquids should be stored outside of living areas in properly labeled, non-glass safety containers. They should also not be stored in a garage if a fuel-burning appliance is in the garage. The vapour from gasoline can travel invisibly along the ground and be ignited by pilot lights or arcs caused by activating electric switches.
  • If at all possible, avoid connecting the electrical output of the generator into the house wiring. Instead, connect individual appliances that have their own outdoor-rated power cord directly to the receptacle outlet of the generator, or connect these cord-connected appliances to the generator’s electrical outlet via a suitable, outdoor-rated extension cord having a sufficient wire gauge to handle the electrical load.
  • If connecting into the house wiring is necessary on a temporary basis to operate permanently wired equipment, such as a water pump, furnace blower/controls, room lighting, etc., there are important steps that require the utmost care to avoid electrocution.
  • A transfer switch permits the transfer of the load from the household power source that is normally supplied by the electric utility over to the portable generator. The transfer switch should be certified by UL, CSA, or another independent test lab for this application, and be mounted within an electrical box. Transfer switches and related accessories designed for connecting a standby system are available from electrical supply stores.
  • Do not operate more appliances and equipment than the output rating of the generator.
  • Keep portable and space heaters at least one metre (three feet) away from anything combustible including paper, drapes, loose clothes furniture, bedding and wallpaper.
  • Never place clothes on a heater to dry.
  • Avoid leaving heaters on when you leave the house or go to bed.
  • Keep children well away from heaters.
  • Space heaters must have a Canadian Standards Association (CSA) label.
  • Have a professional inspect and clean your chimney at least once a year.
  • Always use a fire screen.
  • Burn only materials appropriate for a fireplace.
  • Never burn trash or paper – burning paper can fly out your chimney.
  • Put ashes in metal containers and never store them in your home.
  • Be nice, clear your ice. This not only helps pedestrians but also the emergency workers that may be responding to your home or work site.
  • Have a safety kit in your car. A first aid kit, booster cables, gloves and hats, non- perishable snacks, blankets, and candles would be a great start to protecting yourself while travelling.
  • When driving on snowy or icy roads, keep in mind that it takes longer for vehicles to stop. Reduce your speed on slippery roads and give yourself plenty of room to stop
Safe snow shovelling requires proper preparation, the right tools, good technique and knowledge. Talk to your doctor about this activity and your health status before the winter season arrives. Think twice if you:
  • have had a heart attack or have other forms of heart disease
  • have high blood pressure or high cholesterol level
  • are a smoker
  • lead a sedentary lifestyle
  Tips
  • Consider hiring a student or using a volunteer service if you are a senior
  • Shovel at least 1–2 hours after eating, and avoid caffeine and nicotine
  • Warm-up first (walk or march in place for several minutes before beginning)
  • Start slow and continue at a slow pace (Suggestion: shovel for 5–7 minutes and rest 2–3 minutes)
  • Drink lots of water to prevent dehydration
  • Shovel early and often
  • New snow is lighter than heavily packed/partially melted snow
  • Take frequent breaks
Tools
  • Shovel
  • Sturdy yet lightweight is best (a small plastic blade is better than a large metal blade)
  • An ergonomically correct model (curved handle) will help prevent injury and fatigue
  • Spray the blade with a silicone-based lubricant (snow does not stick and slides off)
Clothing
  • Wear multiple layers and cover as much skin as possible
  • Wear a hat and scarf (make sure neither block your vision)
  • Wear mittens (tend to be warmer than gloves)
  • Wear boots with non-skid/non-slip rubber soles
Technique
  • Push the snow rather than lift it.
  • Protect your back by lifting properly and safely: Stand with feet at hip width for balance
  • Hold the shovel close to your body
  • Space hands apart to increase leverage
  • Bend from your knees, not your back
  • Tighten your stomach muscles while lifting
  • Avoid twisting while lifting
  • Walk to dump snow rather than throwing it
  • When snow is deep, shovel small amounts (1–2 inches at a time) at a time
  • If the ground is icy or slippery, spread salt, sand or cat litter to create better foot traction
Knowledge
  • Shovelling snow is a strenuous activity that is very stressful on the heart
  • Exhaustion makes you more susceptible to frostbite, injury and hypothermia
  • Stop shovelling and call 9‑1‑1 if you have
    • discomfort or heaviness in the chest, arms or neck
    • unusual or prolonged shortness of breath
    • a dizzy or faint feeling
    • excessive sweating or nausea or vomiting