You've probably heard about the polar vortex that's been making this winter so chilly in North America. The deep freeze that's settled over Canada is due to cold arctic air that's swinging south of its usual boundaries, combined with the frost quakes in Ontario, which are caused by highly saturated ground that freezes. This has created some miserable winter weather. Thankfully, with proper preparation, you can stay safe and warm, even with polar winds sweeping into your area.
Dress for extreme cold
A good rule for winter attire is to wear layers. Generally, wearing extra layers means you always have the option to remove excess clothing if you're feeling overheated. With extremely cold weather, it's often your extremities that are most at risk, so it's important to wear gloves, warm socks and waterproof boots to ensure you stay warm and dry. Neck warmers, earmuffs, scarves and a thick, warm hat are also good options.
No matter how well-layered you are with winter clothing, in extreme cold, you should avoid staying outside too long.
Know your ice safety
In the winter, many Canadian youth go skating on local ponds or lakes, setting up hockey games or just participating in outdoor activities with friends. However, just because the temperature is below freezing doesn't mean you should wander out on the ice. It's important to always take the following precautions:
- Always check the thickness and colour of ice - grey indicates that the ice isn't thick enough to support weight.
- Ice should be a clear blue before you consider stepping on it
- Ice that's 15 centimeters thick is okay for skating alone, but if a group is out on the ice, it should be at least 20 centimeters thick.
Stay safe on the roads
If you don't have much experience with winter driving, you'll want to go over road safety. The most basic tip is to always check the weather and road conditions before heading anywhere. Remember to never rush and always give yourself extra travel time.
Preparedness is also important. Clean your vehicle of snow and ice before driving, and consider investing in an emergency kit containing first aid items. In addition, you should always have winter weather supplies in the event of an emergency, such as a blanket, hand warmers and non-perishable snacks.
Taking a first aid and CPR class is an excellent way to be prepared for emergencies in all kinds of weather. The Canadian Red Cross, one of the country's largest non-profit organizations, offers classes year-round. You can sign up today, or donating online. Look to the Canadian Red Cross for more safety tips all winter long.