Submitted by Charity Schweitzer Town of Redcliff’s,
protective services coordinator
Winter is an excellent time to review your family’s emergency plan. An emergency plan will help your whole family know what to do and where to meet if there is an emergency. We are not always together when there is an emergency. It is important to review plans because we do not use them often and so it can be easy to forget the details.
The holiday season brings people together, and time to bring out our favourite decorations. If you like to add the warm glow of candles to your décor, consider the safer LED options. Be careful of the placement of real candles and keep children and pets away from lit candles, matches, and lighters. Candles start more than one-third of home decoration fires. Although Christmas tree fires are rare, they can be severe. Be sure to keep your tree watered and place your tree away from heat sources. Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory and replace lights that have worn or broken cords. You can find more winter and holiday safety tips at www.nfpa.org and even some fun projects for kids.
Safety protocols have not changed much over the past few years. The basics are still essential: test your smoke alarms, stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop, have an up-to-date fire escape and emergency plan with an emergency kit. https://www.alberta.ca/build-an-emergency-kit.aspx has tips on how to make a home emergency kit. Shovelling your sidewalks also helps prevent trips and falls for you and others in the community. Redcliff is great at helping each other in this way. Downloading the Alberta Emergency Alert app will allow you to sign up for alerts issued by the Town’s Emergency Management during a disaster or emergency. Compatible LTE smartphones will receive critical alerts but downloading the app will allow residents to receive detailed follow-up information.
Our weather changes quickly and winter storms can cause extreme cold temperatures, power failures, loss of communication, and icy roads. If you have a generator, it should be used in a well-ventilated location outside, at least five feet (1.5 metres) away from all doors, windows, and vent openings. Measure the 5-foot (1.5 metres) distance from the generator exhaust system to the building. Never use a generator (or a BBQ) in an attached garage, even with the door open. Before considering using an emergency generator during a power outage, check with furnace, appliance, and lighting fixture dealers or manufacturers regarding power requirements and proper operating procedures. In the case of a power outage, stay warm with extra blankets, sleeping bags, and warm winter coats. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, be sure it is up to code and have the chimney cleaned and checked for cracks. Winter safety and other emergency information can be found at www.getprepared.ca.
If you must travel during a winter storm, do so during the day and let someone know your route and arrival time. If your vehicle gets stuck in a blizzard or snowstorm, stay in your vehicle. Allow fresh air in your car by opening the window slightly on the sheltered side – away from the wind. You can run the car engine for about 10 minutes every half-hour if the exhaust system is not blocked by snow. Check the exhaust pipe periodically to make sure it is not blocked. Remember: you can’t smell potentially fatal carbon monoxide fumes.
COVID-19 has impacted everyone, and with so many people staying home to help stop the spread, it is even more important to be sure that you have covered the basics of home safety and are prepared. Guidance and restrictions are always being updated, so be sure to stay current with the information from www.alberta.ca so that our families and community will be safe and healthy.