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Press release

SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE OUTAOUAIS PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT

Weather forecast: Environment Canada has issued a freezing rain warning for the Outaouais region as of Wednesday, April 5, 2023. In light of this weather forecast, the Public Health Department of the CISSS de l’Outaouais wishes to provide the following prevention advice:

Recommendations in brief

  • Know the road conditions before driving and adapt your driving. Use anti-skid devices if you are walking.
  • Do not climb on your roof to de-ice it.
  • Find out about the condition of your relatives who live alone or in a remote area.
  • In the event of a power outage, carry items that will keep you warm, lamps or candles, and a battery-operated radio.
  • If you use a fuel-burning appliance, beware of carbon monoxide.

This gas is poisonous, odourless and invisible. Avoid using an appliance designed for outdoor use indoors, and install your carbon minoxide detector. Avoid using an appliance designed for outdoor use indoors, and locate your generator at least 7 metres from the house. Make sure you have a working battery-operated carbon monoxide detector.

People at risk

Anyone can suffer the consequences of carbon monoxide, however, a person is more vulnerable if :

  • They are 65 years old and over
  • They have limited mobility.
  • They work outside the home.
  • They lack personal resources (homeless or isolated).

Travelling

  • Find out about road conditions before you travel by car. Postpone non-essential travel if road conditions are poor. If you must still drive, adapt your driving to road conditions, avoid sudden manoeuvres and reduce your speed.
  • Take along the necessary equipment in case of an unexpected stop on the road (shovel, blankets, water, food, recharged mobile phone, emergency tool for the car, etc.).
  • On foot, ice can make walking difficult and increase the effort required to move around. Use anti-skid devices to prevent falls on slippery surfaces caused by freezing rain.

De-icing

Avoid climbing onto the roof of your home to remove ice from freezing rain. Falls from roofs can cause serious injury or death.
Beware of falling branches or trees, or ice that may slide off the roof.
Power outages

Power outages are normally short-lived. However, a power cut lasting several hours can cause health and safety risks. Here’s what you can do to prepare for a power cut:

Before

Place the following items in an easily accessible place:

  • torch and spare batteries;
  • Battery-powered radio;
  • Candles;
  • Fondue stove and recommended fuel;
  • Lighter or matches;
  • blanket

During

  • Check the status of the situation with a battery-powered radio or a mobile device that allows you to access the Internet.
  • At any time, you can follow the progress of power outages in your area on the Hydro-Québec website (Info-pannes section) or through their mobile application.
  • Unplug all electrical and electronic appliances, except the refrigerator and freezer, and one lamp per floor. This will prevent a power surge when the power returns.
  • Avoid opening the fridge and freezer door too often to keep food fresh longer.
  • Offer to help relatives, neighbours or colleagues in need
  • If you own a private well, avoid using the water from your well while the system is off, as this increases the risk of contamination.
  • If a wire has fallen to the ground:
    • Never touch a power line or try to move it, even with an object or tool. Stay at least 10 metres away from power lines and call 911 immediately.

Breakdown lasting several days

If it is too cold, leave the house. If you don’t know where to go, contact your municipality. Before you leave, take with you the essential items for you and each member of your family:

  • medicine;
  • hygiene items
  • a change of clothes
  • blankets;
  • money;
  • identity documents;
  • car and house keys;
  • milk, baby bottles and nappies;
  • electronic devices and accessories for connecting them;
  • items needed for the well-being of people with special needs.

After

  • If the authorities allow it and your safety is not compromised, you can return home. Do this during the day, as it will be easier to see problems and dangers.
  • Make sure the water heater is full before restoring power.
  • Restore power by turning on the switch
  • Gradually turn on electrical appliances, including those used for heating, such as baseboard heaters.
  • Open the water inlet and taps to let the air out.
  • Do not turn on the gas yourself; ask a specialist to do so.
  • After a power cut lasting more than six hours, check the quality of your food before eating it. Refrigerated perishable foods such as meats, some dairy products, juices, and eggs should be thrown away.
  • Also, do not eat medicines that should be kept cool but could not be. Return them to the pharmacy.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that you cannot see or smell. It is released when appliances and vehicles burn fuel such as wood, propane, oil or gasoline. Breathing this gas can be very dangerous to your health and even lead to death.

During a power outage :

  • Make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector on hand.
  • If you use a generator, install it outside your home or garage, as far away from doors and windows as possible, at least 7 metres from your home.
  • Avoid using indoor gas appliances designed for outdoor use, such as camping heaters, barbecues, or lamps.

Precautions if you must use a vehicle:

  • Do not run the vehicle engine in a poorly ventilated area to avoid exposure to carbon monoxide.
  • Be sure to remove any snow that may be clogging the exhaust pipe of your vehicle before starting the engine.

If you have symptoms of poisoning (e.g. headaches, fatigue, nausea and vomiting) or the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, leave the premises and go outside:

  • Call 9-1-1
  • Leave the door open when you leave the premises in order to ventilate the area completely.
  • Wait for a firefighter’s authorization to return inside, even for a few minutes.

Information

For more information on health tips for winter, consult the Quebec government website at the following address

https://www.quebec.ca/sante/conseils-et-prevention/sante-et-environnement/conseils-sante- winter/

To reach a CISSSO representative:

Dr. Guillaume Campagné, Medical specialist in public health and preventive medicine

Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais

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