Winter safety tips for Kingston residents

Downtown Kingston after a snowstorm, January 2022. Kingstonist file image.

Utilities Kingston and the City of Kingston are offering safety tips to help protect people, homes, and property this winter.

“Knowing how to prevent a utility emergency will help keep your family safe this winter,” said Jim Miller, Chief Operating Officer of Utilities Kingston. “Kingstonians concerned about the safety of a utility serviced by Utilities Kingston can call our 24-hour line at 613-546-1181.”

According to a release, dated Monday, Jan 29, 2024, Kingston Fire & Rescue supports Utilities Kingston in promoting these safety tips.

“Please take the time to review and apply these important tips from Utilities Kingston,” said Chief Fire Prevention Officer of Kingston Fire & Rescue, Ted Posadowski. “Simple steps taken now can help ensure your safety and the safety of your loved ones,” he adds. 

Image via Utilities Kingston website.

The following tips were provided in the release:

  1. Keep hydrants visible: Residents and snow removal companies are reminded not to shovel or blow snow onto hydrants. Utilities Kingston thanks residents who take the time to clear snow and ice from fire hydrants so they can be easily accessed by firefighters in case of emergency. 
  2. Keep gas and electrical meters clear: Although your outdoor gas meter is designed to withstand winter weather, heavy or hard-packed snow and ice can be a safety hazard. Keep snow and ice from building up on and covering your gas and electric meters and avoid piling snow under the meters or electrical wires. Take care when using a snow blower or plow near your meter and never kick or hit the gas meter or its piping to break away built-up snow or ice. 
  3. Keep outside exhaust vents cleared: Outdoor vents for gas-fired appliances such as furnaces or water heaters exhaust carbon monoxide and need to be kept clear for safety. 
  4. Prevent water from freezing around outside electrical lines: Never attempt to clear ice from around electrical lines yourself (Utilities Kingston customers: call 613-546-1181 if concerned). Keep your eaves troughs free of debris so water runs safely away before it freezes. Ice can build up where overhead electrical service wires attach to your home. Consider that the root of the problem may be poor attic insulation. 
  5. Protect water lines: Prolonged, extreme cold spells present a risk of water lines freezing. Take steps to prevent this by visiting UtilitiesKingston.com/Water/FrozenServices to see if your pipes are at risk and to learn preventative measures. This webpage also explains the processes and responsibilities involved if your water service does freeze.  
  6. Report gas smells or “hissing”: If you suspect a gas leak and are inside, leave the premises immediately. Do not do anything that could create a spark (i.e., don’t use cell phones, switches, or lighters). If you are outside, clear the area and do not use lighters or start vehicles. Call 613-546-1181, ext. 2151 when you are safe.  
  7. Install and obey carbon monoxide (CO) alarms: CO is an invisible, odourless gas that can kill you in high concentrations. If your CO alarm goes off, immediately evacuate all occupants (pets, too), and call 9-1-1. Ontario Fire Code requires all homes (whether single family, semi, or other) with fuel-burning appliances (including fireplaces) and/or attached garages to be equipped with CO alarms. These alarms should be located outside of all sleeping areas. 
  8. Know what to do in the event of a winter storm: Severe weather can cause power outages and downed power lines, as well as put your basement at risk of flooding. Visit the Utilities Kingston website and learn how to be prepared. Residents are reminded:
    • Kingston is served by three power providers. Know who provides your electricity in Kingston, so you can make the right call in case of a power outage or electrical emergency. Utilities Kingston’s electricity customers are in Central Kingston, Barriefield, and CFB Kingston, and can report issues to 613-546-1181, 24 hours per day.
    • Outside of these areas, report an outage by texting 92887 (WATTS), through Hydro One’s outage map at HydroOne.com/StormCentre,?or by calling 1-800-434-1235. Eastern Ontario Power customers can call 1-844-701-9473. 
    • If you see a downed power line or tree branch that has fallen on a power line, always assume it still has electricity flowing through it, even if it isn’t sparking. Stay back at least 10 metres or 33 feet (that’s about the length of a school bus) and don’t touch anything metal (such as guard rails) in the area. Report it immediately by calling 9-1-1. 
    • Do not use a propane barbeque, camp stove, or portable standby generator indoors. They can generate dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Your carbon monoxide detector may not work in a power outage. 

For more information on keeping your home and family safe, visit UtilitiesKingston.com.

Find information on keeping those hard-working people who collect our garbage, recycling, and compost safe during the winter on the City of Kingston website.

Additionally, Kingstonist offers a list of warm-up locations around the city (and we’ve verified each location remains active for the 2023-2024 winter), which is available here.

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