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Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Friday, February 7, 2014

City Reminds You: Safety First During Winter Weather

A lot of people claim to have had enough of winter, as if the weather was some conscious thing that thinks we deserve payback for enjoying warmer, sunnier days during the rest of the year. However, winter doesn't have a "wrath," no matter how much you might think winter is punishing you. (And by the way, what it winter punishing you for?) Still, it would be inaccurate to say that winter doesn't come with some extra work, and the city's sent out a couple of reminders to that fact.

In the first of two winter safe press releases, the Guelph Fire Department, which has already reminded everyone that with the snow piled so high it might be harder to find the hydrants than under snow-less circumstances, has added another advisory. Now, they warn residents to make sure they keep exterior vents clear of snow in order to avoid the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Here's the press release:
Guelph, On, February 7, 2014 – The Guelph Fire Department is asking residents to remove snow from exterior vents connected to heating appliances.

This warning follows a recent increase in emergency calls where responding firefighters found high levels of carbon monoxide in local residences. Carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas, is known as a silent killer because it is colourless, odourless, and tasteless.

“We remind residents that when clearing snow on their properties they should also check for possible snow build-up around exterior exhaust vents attached to fuel-burning appliances and heating systems such as fireplaces and furnaces. Blockages in these vents can cause carbon monoxide to accumulate inside a home,” says Kim Hodgson, chief fire prevention officer.

Last November, the Ontario legislature passed a private member’s bill—Hawkins-Gignac Act—requiring carbon monoxide detectors in all homes with a fuel-burning appliance, heating system, fireplace or attached garage.

“Under the new law, residents using fuel-fired appliances must have functioning carbon monoxide detectors in their homes. These devices can help save lives,” says Hodgson.

Residents are also encouraged to inspect vents and gas meters regularly, regardless of the season, to ensure appliances are working optimally.

Visit guelph.ca/fire for more fire safety information.
In the second press release, which was released as I was preparing this post, warns residents to watch their clearance on the roads. There large snow banks are creating visibility issues for people pulling out of there driveways, causing accidents because they're unable to see down the road passed the (now) unusually high piles of snow. The city has those, and other warnings, in the press release below:
Guelph, ON, February 7, 2014 – Unusually large snow banks along roadways have reduced the horizontal width of many of Guelph’s roads.
Ensuring adequate clearance
Residents are asked to avoid parking on the street where possible. When parking on-street, residents are reminded to obey Guelph’s traffic by-law and ensure there is at least 3 m of clearance on the road – space required for other vehicles such as Fire and emergency medical services (EMS) to pass safety.
As winter control crews work to improve these conditions, no-parking signs may be erected on some residential streets 48 hours in advance of snow removal efforts. Residents are asked to comply with posted signs to allow plows to widen roadways.
To keep roads safe and accessible, do not park across from another vehicle or driveway, and whenever possible, move parked cars off the streets to make room for snow plows.
Trace amount of snow but cold temperatures in coming days
Environment Canada is forecasting a few centimetres of snow but cold temperatures in coming days.
Winter control crews are shifting focus from clearing main and secondary routes to clearing isolated locations of blowing and drifting snow, and snow removal in the downtown core and on permissive parking streets (residential streets).
Guelph’s main and secondary routes are in very good condition following the most recent winter control activity. The residential street plow out which began Wednesday night is also complete.
The City reminds residents of the following to stay safe during winter weather:
  • High snow banks and narrow streets may be a safety hazard to those backing vehicles out onto roadways. Where possible, residents are asked to lower snow banks along their driveways to improve sightlines and remove excess snow from the road to help widen the street in front of their residence.
  • Keep fire hydrants clear of snow.
  • Help keep storm drains and catch basins clear to prevent flooding as temperatures rise.
  • If you’re able, please help clear sidewalks near your property. Seniors and residents with a physical disability who require assistance shoveling can call Snow Angels at 519-822-1155.
  • Clear snow from exterior vents that are connected to fuel fired appliances such as fireplaces and furnaces to prevent carbon monoxide accumulation inside the home.
  • Place garbage carts/bags at the curb on the morning of collection (by 6:30 a.m.) rather than the night before. Do not place waste on top of snow banks or on the road as these pose obstacles to the City’s snow clearing operations. Instead shovel a spot for your carts or bags, or place them in the driveway 1 m back from the road.
  • Continue to use caution in parks and on trails.
  • Drive according to road conditions and pack an emergency car kit.
The City’s winter maintenance service helps ensure community safety every day, and in the event of extreme weather.
The City will continue to provide updates to the community, and invites people to subscribe to updates using Twitter or Facebook.

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