COLUMN: Lyle Karasiuk — Dec. 6, 2012

Lyle Karasiuk
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“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” goes the line to a popular Christmas song. With folks hustling and bustling, stores busy with Christmas shoppers, the frustration of parking on a busy Saturday afternoon is evident. As we hurry to get our Christmas shopping done, take the time for some activity with friends and family, but do it safely.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it, check the conditions on the ice before you head out on the snowmobile. With extra snow to insulate the frozen water below, conditions may not be right for the snowmobile. You need 15 cm of ice for walking, 20 cm of ice for a group to go skating and at least 25 cm of ice for a snow machine. Falling through the ice can have some disastrous consequences.

If you do break through you have a mere few minutes to take control of your breathing and focus on getting out. Hypothermia can set in quickly but try to turn around and go back where you came from. That ice was already strong enough to support you. Do not continue to go forward. Once out if help is not immediately available, you need to seek shelter and get dry.

We try to remind anyone who snowmobiles or uses an ATV for extended trail travels to always be prepared with waterproof matches, a knife of some sort, a fox 40 whistle and if travelling across water hand picks. All these need to stuffed in your coat close to your chest for quick and easy access.

We see folks standing at the bus stop shivering with proper clothing in the winter. Yes, maybe it’s only a couple of minutes but you will surely notice with some added wind, you will feel pretty cold pretty fast. Dress for the weather -- toque, mitts, scarf, winter coat, long underwear and good footwear.

Travelling for a visit can often come with peril. Sliding off the road or a mechanical breakdown can strand even the most seasoned traveler. Now is the time to ensure your winter safety items are properly stored in your vehicle. Shovel, tow rope, first aid kit, winter safety kit, extra blankets and extra winter clothing are but a few simple items. If you do become stranded call for help, signal for help, but stay with your vehicle.

You can easily become injured or lost trying to get a short distance for help.

With heating challenges, simple precautions like a carbon monoxide detector might save your family. Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of any combustion whether that is natural gas, propane, wood or gasoline/diesel. Proper ventilation is the first essential item.

Since we keep our windows and doors shut during the winter, these gases can build up quickly from a poorly functioning heating appliance. Call a qualified heating professional to service your furnace yearly. If you and others in the home complain of headache, dizziness, flu like symptoms, shortness of breath or the obvious your detectors alarm is sounded.

Get everyone out of the house, contact your 24 hour emergency number such as Sask Energy. Being safe this winter includes taking care of yourself, your family and others.

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