As British Columbians get used to winter, individuals and families should also take time to prepare for winter storm season. The first snows of the season have already fallen, and over the coming months winter conditions will be the norm.
During December there were several instances of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in B.C. It is important to stay safe, and that includes being mindful of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted, but if too much is breathed in, it can become deadly. HealthLinkBC (http://bit.ly/2zNNLzq) and Technical Safety BC (http://bit.ly/2RKglZt) have some useful information about the warning signs of CO gas in the home, symptoms of CO gas poisoning, and what to do if there is suspected exposure to CO gas.
Consider putting carbon monoxide detectors at home near sleeping areas. These carbon monoxide detectors can be purchased in any store that sells smoke detectors. Look for detectors endorsed by the Standards Council of Canada, such as the Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC) or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
When installing a detector, follow the directions closely. Know what to do if the alarm sounds, and understand that carbon monoxide detectors are a backup safety measure. They do not replace the need to check appliances regularly and use them safely.
A little preparation will ensure individuals and families stay safe during stormy, wintery conditions. Here are some other tips to keep safe during this winter season:
* Prepare for extreme cold: Environment Canada will issue arctic outflow warnings when extremely cold winds that can create wind chill values of -20º C or colder are forecast for six or more hours. Use caution and limit outdoor exposure under these conditions, as there is an increased risk of frostbite and hypothermia. Parents and pet owners should be particularly mindful of children and pets being outdoors during these times.
Find Environment Canada weather alerts and specific regional details at http://ow.ly/HUef306UKC4.
* Wear your winter gear: Always wear clothing appropriate for the weather. Dressing in layers, with a wind and water resistant outer layer, provides flexibility for changing conditions. Cover as much exposed skin as possible by wearing hats, scarves, and gloves to avoid frostbite. Try to stay dry and change out of wet clothing as soon as possible.
* Be prepared for power outages: Severe weather can cause power outages. Be prepared for up to one week by developing a household emergency plan and putting together an emergency kit. If a power line is downed or damaged, assume it is live and a danger. Stay back at least 10 metres (the length of a bus) and call 9-1-1 immediately to report.
* Drive for the conditions: There are fewer daylight hours, and blowing snow can further reduce visibility. Wet and icy roads call for extra caution behind the wheel, and drivers should always maintain a safe distance from highway maintenance vehicles.
Motorists should monitor DriveBC (www.drivebc.ca) for up-to-date road conditions and have an emergency kit in their vehicles that includes warm clothes, winter footwear, food and water, a shovel, a flashlight, and a fully charged cell phone for emergency calls. Remember to “shift into winter” with specific winter driving tips at http://ow.ly/y747306UIX5.
Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness, shares winter and holiday safety tips at http://bit.ly/2GgVb3A. And PreparedBC is British Columbia’s one-stop shop for disaster readiness information. For tips on how to prepare an emergency plan and what to include in an emergency kit, visit PreparedBC at http://ow.ly/C28u306UJ1P.