Stay safe if things go wrong this winter

Austin M.
Austin M. Davis
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Nobody wants to be in a collision or be stranded on the side of a highway, but being prepared for anything can save your life.

St. John Ambulance, the volunteer-based non-profit charity, released five tips for staying safe over the holiday season.

“All of them are very important,” said Robyn Tessier, marketing coordinator for St. John Ambulance. “One of the main things that we do encourage everybody to do is become certified in first-aid.”

Tessier said this ensures that you’re not relying on back-up plans. People certified in first-aid will know how to approach emergency situations from start to finish.

Preparation and knowledge can prevent serious injury or death.

St. John Ambulance recommended motorists plan their trips and let friends or family members know when they’ll be arriving. Motorists should also keep first-aid kits, blankets and warm clothes in the vehicle with them. They may even want to pack a small meal if help is delayed in an emergency situation.

All of those precautions should be taken for any trip outside of the city.

“Be prepared for anything. Have your blankets in your car. Have toques and mitts on you at all times, even if you think it’s just going to be a short trip,” Tessier said.

The most dangerous possibility for stranded motorists in the winter is getting hypothermia. Tessier said babies, the elderly, sick people and teenagers inadequately dressed for the weather are most likely to develop hypothermia.

There are three stages of hypothermia: mild, moderate and severe. As the condition worsens the person’s pulse will drop, breathing will slow, mild shivering becomes intense, speech becomes slurred and the individual gets confused or tired.

“If you catch this early, it’s a lot better than if you let it get right to severe because once it becomes severe you have a very weak pulse, you have slower breathing and your shivering stops completely and you actually become unconscious,” Tessier said.

Covering all exposed skin with blankets or suitable clothing can help prevent hypothermia.

“Make sure the head is well insulated. Adjust clothing to keep winds or drafts out. If possible, move out of the cold environment,” Tessier said.

Staying sheltered from mean winter weather is the basis of surviving an emergency situation.

“If you’re in a car, you’re still sheltered from those harsh environmental temperatures and the winds,” Tessier said. “If you’re staying in your car you can survive much longer. People are going to pull over for a car, whereas they might not see you — especially at night — if you’re just out walking by yourself.”

Austin M. Davis can be reached at 306-691-1258 or follow him on Twitter @theAustinX

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