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Communiqué Blog

Preparing for winter weather

Woman throwing snowballWinter is here, and with winter comes cold weather, snow and ice. Here are some tips to keep you warm and safe during this season.

Stay safe outdoors – Dress warmly

  • Dress in layers. Wear loose, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers. Trapped air between the layers acts as an insulator and layers can be removed to avoid perspiration and subsequent chill.
  • Avoid cotton, when it gets wet, it stays wet. Instead, try clothing made from moisture-wicking fabric. Better yet, wool will keep your body temperature up, even when wet.
  • Consistently check for any exposed skin. Shirts and jackets have a tendency to roll up on the back of wheelchairs.
  • Use mittens to keep your hands warm if opening fingers is challenging.
  • Carry two pairs of gloves with you at all times in the likelihood that one pair gets wet. Make sure the gloves are lined for the best protection.
  • Always wear a hat or cap since half of your body heat could be lost through an uncovered head.
  • Keep calves warm with leggings or, if you are using a wheelchair, cover your legs with a blanket.
  • Wear warm and waterproof footwear.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbitten skin feels cold to the touch and may feel numb. If skin turns white or grayish-yellow, frostbite can be suspected. Move to a warm area and cover the affected area with something warm and dry. Never rub the affected area.
  • Wear sunscreen! Even in the winter, sunburn is possible. When the sun reflects off the snow, severe sunburn can occur, especially under your nose and the bottom of your ears.
  • Apply Vaseline to the areas of your face that are not going to be covered. It acts as a moisture insulator and helps prevent your face from getting dry or chapped in the cold air.
  • Keep your wheelchair in good condition and make sure the battery for power chairs is fully charged before going out.

Dealing with dehydration

Hydration is critical in winter weather. When the body gets dehydrated, cold sets in more easily. Skin becomes dried out from heating and cold temps more so than in summer. Keep your body oxygenated by drinking lots of water.

Stay safe indoors

Winter is a busy season for fires in Canada. That’s why it’s important to be mindful of fire prevention and safety. Make sure you have working smoke alarms, don’t leave burning candles unattended. If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.

Check your emergency kit

You likely have some basic emergency kit items already in your home, such as a flashlight, battery-operated radio, food, water and blankets. The key is to make sure they are organized, easy to find and easy to carry (in a suitcase with wheels or in a backpack) in case you need to evacuate your home.

Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle

Prepare an emergency kit and keep it in your vehicle. Refresh the supplies for winter. For example, add an extra blanket or new food items.

Check weather reports

When severe winter weather threatens, Environment Canada issues special alerts to notify Canadians in affected areas so that they can take steps to protect themselves and their property. Check out Environment Canada’s page on winter weather to learn more about the various weather alerts.

These tips have been brought to you by Public Safety Canada, Red Cross and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. To learn more about how to prepare for a range of emergencies, visit GetPrepared.ca

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