Winter safety starts with you

Tips on how to stay safe in the cold, at home and on the roads

We are well into winter and it is a good time to review basic safety tips that can help you and your family stay safe during the cold winter months. If you are headed outdoors or on the road, you will want to pay close attention to the weather to ensure you are prepared for the temperature and weather conditions. Halton Region issues cold warnings when the temperature drops below -15 degrees Celsius (without wind-chill), or when weather conditions are severe enough to warrant alerting the community to the risks involved with prolonged exposure.

Anyone can be affected by extreme cold-related weather conditions, depending on how long one is exposed to cold conditions and exertion levels. Those especially at risk include: adults over the age of 65, infants and young children, people who work outdoors, people who exercise outdoors (hikers, skiers) and people who have limited resources to house or protect themselves. During extreme cold, call or visit friends and neighbours who may be at risk and keep pets inside.

Protect your health

  • Plan ahead and check the weather forecast.
  • Cover exposed skin using multiple layers of loose-fitting clothes with a wind-resistant outer layer, a hat, mittens, and scarf.
  • Dress appropriately when going outside. Frostbite can occur within minutes.
  • Always be on the lookout for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Prepare emergency kits for your home and car.
  • Sign up for automatic cold warnings.

For more information on cold warnings and what you can do to protect your health, visit halton.ca/cold.

Protect your home

Every winter, some Halton residents experience water outages or frozen water pipes, service lines or meters. To reduce this risk during cold temperatures:

  • remember to shut off and drain pipes leading to outside faucets;
  • ensure doorways to basement areas and crawl spaces with water meter and plumbing are opened enough to ensure the temperature in these areas remains warm;
  • do not set your household temperature too low at night or when the house is vacant; and
  • wrap foam pipe insulation around pipes most susceptible to freezing (e.g., near outside walls, under kitchen and bathroom cabinets, in crawl spaces and attics).

For more tips on avoiding frozen water pipes, visit halton.ca/frozenpipes.

Protect yourself on the roads

Plan ahead for winter driving to ensure your trip is a safe one.

  • Clear snow and ice from all windows, lights, mirrors and roof and make sure that you have plenty of windshield washer fluid and that it is rated to -40oC or lower.
  • Plan your route ahead of time. Let someone know of your destination and expected time of arrival. Bring a map and be prepared to take an alternate route.
  • Always keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • Bring a cell phone.
  • Use winter tires.
  • Make sure there is enough space between you and other cars.
  •  Keep a winter driving survival kit in your car that includes booster cables, washer fluid, emergency flares, a survival candle, blanket, first aid kit and highway help sign.

To learn more visit halton.ca/winterdriving and halton.ca/beprepared.

Being prepared is the most important step you can take to stay safe this winter. I wish you all a safe and healthy winter season!

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.