Font Size:



Highlight text on the page to convert it to speech.

Staff Access

Winter Safety Preparedness

Here are some tips on how to manage the challenges colder weather can bring:

  • – As winter arrives it’s a good idea to start preparing your space for winter including having the fireplace and furnace checked and readied to withstand the cold weather.
  • – Keep your thermostat at a reasonable temperature. Seniors are among those who are at substantial risk for hypothermia. The warning signs of hypothermia can go unnoticed by older adults so, even if heating costs increase, it is not worth the risk.
  • – Add extra blankets to beds
  • – If you are heading outdoors, make sure you are dressed properly for the weather. This includes a warm coat, gloves, scarf and hat. Canadians, in particular, can suffer frostbite when the temperature drops.
  • – Winter can also be a high-risk time for falls and injuries. Be cautious when outdoors and ensure you have proper footwear. Try and arrange to have a caregiver or helper shovel sidewalks and driveways.
  • – Health problems tend to crop up more in the winter. These include ailments such as painful joints, lung spasms and even heart problems. The wintry weather can put a strain on your body and those that have chronic conditions may find they suffer more in winter.

– Influenza or the flu is a significant risk during the winter months, ensure you and everyone around you is paying attention to preventing the spread of germs:

  • – Be aware of your mood as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) happens most often in the colder, darker months. Warning signs include a feeling of tiredness or low energy as well as an increased appetite. This is something you can talk to your doctor about if you are concerned. People can focus on eating a well-balanced diet and ensuring they have an adequate intake of Vitamin D.
  • – If you drive make sure your car is road ready by having it serviced, installing winter tires and topping up all the fluids.

By preparing now for the colder weather older Canadians can be sure they will be safe and warm this winter season.

Shoveling Snow

Shoveling snow can be a strenuous activity, particularly because cold weather can be tasking on the body. There is a potential for exhaustion, dehydration, back injuries, or heart attacks. During snow removal in addition to following the tips for avoiding cold stress, such as taking frequent breaks in warm areas, there are other precautions workers can take to avoid injuries. Workers should warm-up before the activity, scoop small amounts of snow at a time and where possible, push the snow instead of lifting it. The use of proper lifting technique is necessary to avoid back and other injuries when shoveling snow: keep the back straight, lift with the legs and do not turn or twist the body.

Preventing Slips on Snow and Ice

To prevent slips, trips, and falls, employers should clear walking surfaces of snow and ice, and spread deicer (salt), as quickly as possible after a winter storm. In addition, the following precautions will help reduce the likelihood of injuries:

  • Wear proper footwear when walking on snow or ice is unavoidable. A pair of insulated and water resistant boots with good rubber treads is a must for walking during or after a snow fall. Keeping a pair of rubber over-shoes with good treads which fit over your street shoes is a good idea during the winter months.
  • Take short steps and walk at a slower pace so you can react quickly to a change in traction, when walking on an icy or snow-covered walkway.

Safe Floors

Slippery floors are a factor in most slip-falls. Spills and debris can be hazardous on any walking surface, so good housekeeping practices are essential. Clean spills immediately, and mop or sweep up any debris. For floors with a hard mineral surface, such as tiles or polished untreated concrete, a non-slip treatment can help reduce falls.

Floors in workplaces where people continually enter from outdoors will often be wet in the winter and when it rains. For example, in shopping malls, hotels, grocery stores and fast food outlets employees and customers can slip and fall where the floor surface is wet.

A non-slip coating or treatment does not eliminate the need for good housekeeping. The floor must still be properly cleaned to maintain its anti-slip surface.

Here’s more information on safety tips for winter walking:

Shift into winter driving quiz: