Winter Emergency Kit

Cold Weather Safety Guide

DF SafetyEnvironmental Hazards, Health and Safety Tips, Personal Safety Guide

Falling on Ice

It’s that time of year where we as Albertans have packed away our summer clothes and pulled out the winter gear.  

Seasonal changes and weather conditions are not new to most of us, yet we go unprepared for when things don’t go as planned. 

As the temperature drops, there are things we must be aware of and plan for accordingly. Not only for the safety of those who work outdoors but for all who may be affected. 

Winter Driving

Always plan ahead and give yourself extra time to reach your destination.  

Failure to do so results in poor driving choices for the driving conditions and can potentially lead to car incidents. I use the term ‘incidents’ because many ‘accidents’ are caused by human error.  

Always give yourself plenty of space between the car in front of you (at least 2 car lengths) and remember that it takes much longer to come to a full stop on slick roads. 

Think to yourself what could potentially go wrong every time you get into your vehicle. 

 Keep your vehicle stocked with supplies, like extra clothing, blankets, and snacks.  

I always carry a personal handheld jump starter with me. This device has saved me many times as you only need the device, which means no more having to try to flag someone down in hopes they have booster cables. 

Hazards: Cold Weather Work

  • Cold stress—Exposure to the cold can lead to frostbite and hypothermia. 
  • Hypothermia—The body can no longer maintain its core temperature, causing persistent shivering, confusion, and poor coordination.  
  • Frostbite—Parts of the body are exposed to extremely cold temperatures or come into contact with cold objects, causing the tissues to freeze.  
  • Slips and falls—Ice, snow, slush, wet surfaces, and mud (during a thaw) can cause slips and falls. “A slip on the ground can cost you weeks off work. A slip at height can cost you your life.” 

Controls: Cold Weather Work

  • Dressing in layers are preferred over one thick layer. 
  • Wear appropriate gloves. Gloves should have enough insulation to keep you warm and prevent frostbite but be thin enough so you can feel what you are doing. Especially if you are manipulating controls or tools. Gloves which are too thick can also make your hands and wrists work too hard trying to hold on to objects, causing possible repetitive strain injury. 
  • Wear a hat. 7 – 10% of your body heat is lost through the top of your head. 
  • Wear two pairs of thin socks or one pair of thick socks. 
  • Ensure your shoes or boots have adequate tread to prevent slips and falls on wet or icy surfaces. Slow down when walking across slippery surfaces and be especially careful on ladders, platforms, and stairways. 

Well, there you have it! 

By being prepared and allowing for extra time during the winter months can save you from the hazards cold weather brings. 

Have a great new years!