The holidays are fast approaching. Everyone’s gearing up for celebrations, and many of us are looking forward to cozy cottage time by the woodstove or fireplace. This can also be a precarious time, however, if the proper precautions aren’t taken. Here are several things to keep in mind as we head into the snowy season, that will keep you and your cottage safe and merry throughout the winter:

  1. Lock your doors and windows – even if you’re leaving the cottage for a short period (this is particularly important during the holidays).
  2. If you’re away for long period of time, alert the neighbours, hire a snow removal service, install automatic light timers.
  3. If you plan on shovelling snow yourself, dress warmly, take plenty of breaks – it’s easy to dangerously overdo it.
  4. Keep space heaters far away from anything flammable.
  5. Steer children and pets clear of space heaters.
  6. Install smoke alarms near every sleeping area and in every story of your cottage (be sure to test them).
  7. Install working carbon monoxide detectors.
  8. Check the weather and modify your outdoor activity if it calls for extreme low temperatures or wind chill.
  9. The sun can reflect strongly off the snow, so wear sunscreen and/or protective clothing.
  10. Children must be supervised around large icy areas.
  11. Ask police department and/or knowledgeable people in the area if the ice in your area is safe for skating and play.
  12. Inspect the ice, frozen lakes or rivers yourself before allowing children near them, and exercise extreme caution.
  13. When operating a snowmobile on ice, keep it moving until you reach the shore to avoid dangers of slushy spots.
  14. If you must snowmobile at night, be aware that holes in the ice are difficult to illuminate at high speeds. Use extreme caution.
  15. If anyone falls into the ice, get help immediately, even if victim seems okay.
  16. Keep Christmas trees away from doors, windows, passageways, fireplaces and other heat sources.
  17. Keep Christmas trees green by standing them in water or wet sand, and trimming the trunk two inches (dry trees are fire hazards).
  18. Holiday decorations should be non-flammable and non-combustible (even in combination with one another).
  19. Keep chord strings and small decorations away from pets and small children.
  20. Metallic or aluminum trees are extremely dangerous when adorned with electric decorations.
  21. Inspect light cords for damage and loose connections, and ensure the lights certified and appropriate for the environment in which you wish to hang them (indoor/outdoor).
  22. Keep gift wrapping, Christmas stockings and decorations away from the fireplace and all heat sources.
  23. Make sure that fireplaces are shielded by a good screen to avoid dangerous sparks and protect children and pets.
  24. Drive safely: buckle your seatbelts; if you’re driving, avoid all alcoholic beverages, and encourage friends and family to do the same.
  25. Be diligent filling your car with gas so that you don’t run out should you be stuck in the snow for a length of time.
  26. Make sure to drive with a well charged mobile phone.
  27. Know you’re route. When driving in bad conditions, you don’t want to get lost, so ensure your driving route is well planned out.
  28. Drive Slowly. Black ice can be lurking around any corner and can cause your car to slide without notice. Even if the conditions look clear, be weary of the ice.

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