While the first #blizzardof2015 ended sooner than expected in some parts of Atlantic Canada like Halifax, the storm system is still going strong in many areas with weather warnings still in effect, and another storm looming on the horizon.
5 tips to stay safe in the storm:
- Avoid driving.
Treacherous road conditions have prompted many road closures as the blizzard wreaks havoc on travel across nearly every county in the Maritimes. Blowing snow and high winds make roads impassable due to poor visibility. If you must go out in the storm, make sure your car has at least half a tank of gas and is packed with emergency supplies including a first aid kit, jumper cables, a windshield scraper, spare tire, cell phone and charger, as well as blankets and extra warm clothing. Once you're in your car, drive slowly, and if you get stuck, stay inside your car for warmth while you call for help.
- Be prepared.
Shelves are empty in some parts of the US as shoppers scramble to stock up on groceries for the week. The Canadian Red Cross recommends keeping a week's worth of food and safety supplies including water, canned foods or foods that don't require cooking, a non-electric can opener, baby food, prescription medications and a flashlight. Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
- Stay warm.
Infants and the elderly are most susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite. Keep children bundled up in warm layers with a scarf and head covering and warm, waterproof boots. Stay close to home, and take frequent breaks inside to warm up. Signs of hypothermia include tingling sensations on nose, ears, toes and fingers, cloudy thinking and slowed heart rate. Go inside and stay there if you experience any of these symptoms. Bring pets inside and move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas. Make sure their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice or other obstacles. Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- Put down the snow shovel.
A 2010 study found that heavy snowfall combined with cold weather and low pressure is associated with an increase in heart attacks. Some doctors recommend avoiding snow shoveling if you are over 55 or have a history of heart problems. If you must shovel the snow, be aware of the health implications; take breaks, dress warmly and remember to breathe.
- Mind the gas.
Fuel-burning space heaters, portable generators and outdoor appliances can cause the build up of carbon monoxide - a colourless, odourless and dangerous gas. Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of fatal poisonings in North America. Exposure to high concentrations can cause death in just a few minutes and mirrors flu symptoms: headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, chest pain, weakness and dizziness. Make sure your home has a carbon monoxide detector and never operate portable gas heaters in enclosed spaces. If you believe you may have been exposed to carbon monoxide, get fresh air quickly and seek medical attention. Other hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking include electric shock and fire.