5 winter dangers and how to manage them

A person walking down a road in a blizzard.

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Manitoba will experience a classic Canadian winter this year. Prepare for these winter hazards:

Slips and falls

  • Snow, slush, ice and mud will make paths slippery. You can fall.
  • You can have sprains, broken bones or hip fractures. You should:
    • Get shoes with traction.
      • Snow boots that have a thick, non-slip sole made of natural rubber are the best.
      • Shoes should be warm and waterproof.
      • Get one that is light and have wide low heels.
    • Use ice grippers if you walk outside a lot.
      • Ice grippers can be attached to the bottom of your shoes.
      • They prevent you from slipping on ice.
      • Take them off when you get inside.
      • You may slip when you walk on smooth floors like tile or ceramic.
    • Clear entrance ways and sidewalks of ice and snow.
    • Keep a small bag of grit, sand or cat litter in your bag. Sprinkle some when walking on a slippery path.
    • Walk slowly and carefully. Watch where you are going. Don’t step on icy paths or puddles.

    Frostbite

    1. Frostbite is when the cold freezes your skin and tissues.
      • Fingers, toes, ears, cheeks, the nose and chin get frostbitten first.
      • It makes the skin look white, waxy or grayish-yellow.
      • Frostbite can make you numb. Blisters may form. The skin turns black in extreme cases. Fingers and toes may need to be cut off.
    2. Wear proper winter gear to prevent frostbite:
      • Wear a winter coat
      • Use gloves/mittens
      • Put on a face cover (like a ski mask)
      • Use a scarf
      • Put on a hat or toque
      • Wear thick boots.
    3. Don’t show skin and don’t stay outside longer than you need to.
    4. If you you have frostbite:
      • Get indoors and stay warm.
      • Use warm washcloths or warm water (dry the area with a towel).
      • Take off tight clothing.
      • Raise the affected area to ease pain and swelling.
      • Go to the doctor if the numbness or pain continues.


    How to identify and treat frostbite, CBC News Manitoba


    Hypothermia

    1. This happens when body temperature drops below 35 °C (95°F).
      • Severe shivering will happen.
      • The person will feel tired and sleepy.
      • Some become clumsy and confused. They mumble.
      • A person becomes unconscious in severe cases.
    2. Long exposure to the cold causes hypothermia. Wear proper gear if you need to be outside. Stay as dry as possible.
    3. If you see a person with symptoms of hypothermia:
      • Get them indoors to a warm area.
      • Seek medical help. Call 9-1-1.
      • Remove wet clothing and keep them warm. Wrap them in blankets, pillows or newspapers.
      • The patient should lie down.

    Carbon monoxide poisoning

    1. Carbon monoxide is a colourless and odourless gas. It can kill even in small doses.
    2. Accidental poisoning happens in winter. Carbon monoxide can leak out from poorly working heaters or generators. The gas can be trapped inside enclosed spaces. It can build up to dangerous levels.
    3. A person suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning will have the following symptoms:
      • Mild headache and breathlessness (when doing regular tasks).
      • Flu-like symptoms, severe headaches, chest pains, dizziness and nausea.
      • They will seem confused or angry. They can lose memory and become clumsy.
      • Call the doctor if you see these symptoms.
    4. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:
      • Put carbon monoxide detectors inside your home. Check their batteries. Make sure that they are working.
      • Don’t turn on and run your car engine in an enclosed garage.
      • Check heaters, gas cooking units, or furnaces if they are working properly. Some warning signs:
        • soot around fuel-burning appliances
        • orange or yellow flames (it should be blue) in your gas appliances
        • damaged or discoloured bricks at the top of your chimney.

    Car accidents

    1. It is hard to drive in icy, slippery roads. Accidents happen when drivers do not slow down.
    2. Common accidents:
      • Drivers can get stranded or stuck in a ditch.
      • Cars can stall due to engine trouble.
      • Collisions are common.
    3. If you get into a car accident:
      • Stay calm.
      • Ask for help if there are people around.
      • Call 9-1-1 if you are in danger or injured.
      • Call emergency roadside assistance if you need towing.
      • Call the police if other vehicles and possible injuries are involved.
      • Stay in your car if you are stranded on a busy road or highway.
        • Call for assistance and wait.
        • You can get lost in blowing or drifting snow if you get out.
        • You can get hit by passing vehicles who may not see you immediately.
      • Display a trouble signal. Use a brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna. Turn on the hazard lights.
      • Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning when you’re in the car.
        • Keep your car’s exhaust pipe clear of snow.
        • Open a window slightly for air.
    4. To prepare for winter driving:
      • Check your car. Make sure that it is ready for winter. Change to winter tires. Read Top 3 winter driving tips.
      • Know weather news and road conditions.
        • Go to: Manitoba 511 for maps and safety information.
        • Install the 511 app or Waze for information on the go.
        • Call Highway Information Services at 945-3704 or Toll Free at 1-877-627-6237 for winter road conditions.
      • Drive slowly. Leave enough space between your car and the one in front of you. Snow and ice on roads increase your stopping distance.
      • Have an emergency kit in your car.
        • Keep a cellular phone and charger
        • blankets
        • extra jacket
        • water and food.
        • Save emergency numbers.
      • Tell your family where you are going and when you expect to arrive if you are driving a long distance.
        • Tell someone from that destination to wait for you.
        • That person can call for help if you do not arrive at the expected time.

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