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Check your blizzard I.Q.: 10 tips for staying safe

February 3, 2016

Do your employees know what to do in a blizzard? The massive blizzard that struck the northeastern United States in January is a reminder that winter storms are serious business and that everyone needs to be prepared.

Here are 10 tips to help your employees stay safe:

  1. Be in the know. Environment Canada issues warnings when it expects blizzards, heavy snow, freezing rain and high winds. Its official definition of a blizzard is a period of six or more hours with winds above 40 km/h, with visibility reduced to below 1 km by blowing or drifting snow.
  2. Avoid the just get home or just finish the job syndrome. Take blizzard warnings seriously. Many have experienced seriously trouble or even died because they thought they could get to their destination before the worst of a storm. If you are already out, turn back if driving becomes risky or look for a safe place to stop.
  3. Understand that snow tires and all-wheel drive will not make you invincible. You may be blocked by other traffic. Visibility may quickly decrease. You may still have trouble stopping or steering. Any vehicle can get stuck in bad conditions.
  4. Keep your gas tank at least half full.
  5. Take a fully charged cell phone with you.
  6. Keep a winter survival kit in your vehicle. It should include a shovel, sand or kitty litter, extra clothing and footwear, an emergency food pack, survival blankets, matches and a candle in a deep can, among other items.
  7. If trapped in a storm or snow bank, make sure the tailpipe is not blocked by snow to keep carbon monoxide from getting into your vehicle. Keep a window open slightly on the sheltered side.
  8. Work sites and homes should have an emergency plan for power outages. Emergency kits should contain a flashlight and batteries, important telephone numbers, candles and matches, a battery powered radio, non-perishable food, bottled water, among other items.
  9. If the power is off, keep a small stream of water running from faucets to keep pipes from freezing. Keep fridge and freezer openings to a minimum.
  10. Be cautious about shoveling. Sudden exercise can cause a heart attack, especially in individuals who are not healthy and fit. If you do shovel, begin slowly, use a small blade and take frequent breaks.

- Adapted from the Alberta Automobile Association Emergency Preparedness Canada, Epcor

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