SGI: Winter driving tips

SGI: Winter driving tips

In Saskatchewan, it is possible that you could be operating your vehicle for at least five months of the year in winter driving conditions. It is in this period, from November to March, that most collisions occur.

Snow, ice and freezing rain reduce traction. Drifting and blowing snow, fog, whiteouts, gas exhaust clouds and frosted windows may severely limit visibility.

The main cause of collisions in winter months is failing to adjust to the changing conditions.

Preparing your vehicle

Winter conditions, plus the effects of extremely low temperatures, demand that a vehicle be in top condition. For this reason, a pre-winter check is a necessity, and in the end is less annoying and less costly than battery boosts, tows and being late. Give special attention to your heater and defroster.

As well as getting a tune-up and adding antifreeze to your radiator, you would be wise to have the following:

  • snow tires
  • block heater
  • snow brush and scraper
  • gas line antifreeze
  • small snow shovel
  • set of traction mats
  • booster cables (know how to use them)

For out of town trips, add the following survival equipment:

  • extra warm clothes (include footwear, mitts and hats)
  • a supply of candles and matches
  • tow chain or rope
  • nourishing freezable food (raisins, nuts, candy)
  • sleeping bags

Preparing to see and to be seen

If you cannot see through your windows, you should not drive. If your lights and signals are to protect you, they must be visible.

Before you drive, do the following:

  • Brush the snow off your car.
  • Scrape the windshield, rear and side windows.
  • Clear your heater air intake (this is usually in front of the windshield).
  • Clean your headlights, tail lights and signal lights.
  • Be sure to clear your tissue boxes, sunglasses, papers, etc., away from defroster outlets.
  • Drive with your headlights on at all times. Even on a clear day, swirling snow makes it difficult to see and to be seen.

Driving on slippery surfaces

Winter traction problems require a number of changes from summer driving techniques. The general rule for driving on slippery conditions is drive slowly.

You should not use cruise control on icy or slippery roads. This is even more important when the road may have black ice formed on it (a thin layer of transparent ice found on the road or other paved surfaces).

Traction varies tremendously with temperature changes. Icy roads will look just the same at -2 C or -22 C, but will be far more slippery at the warmer temperature. Winter driving calls for special driving skills. This means gentle acceleration, gentle braking and small, smooth steering movements.

Reduced traction means the grip between your tires and the slippery surface is fragile.

If you accelerate hard, you go beyond the amount of traction that is available and your wheels spin. If you brake too hard and your wheels lock, you break the traction, which means that when you turn the steering wheel, the vehicle will not turn – it will continue in the direction it was going when the wheels locked.

If this occurs on ice, your stopping distance changes. In most situations, locking four wheels by pushing hard on the brakes will give you the shortest stopping distance. But on ice, especially when it’s near the freezing point or if you are driving fast, you are better off to threshold-brake by pushing on the brake up to the point just before it locks. (See Threshold braking.)

If the surface is slippery, flatten the corner or curve by positioning your vehicle in the left side of your lane prior to making your turn.

As you enter the curve, gradually steer across the lane so that as you near the mid-point of the curve the vehicle is near the right side of the lane with its wheels straight. As you exit the curve, gradually steer back across the lane towards the left side. For left curves, reverse the process. This will lessen the sideways force and reduce the chance that you will spin out. Slow entry into the curve is crucial or your vehicle may not make it around the curve.

Because there is reduced traction available for stopping and turning, reduce your speed when conditions are wet or slippery. As well, give yourself a following distance even longer than three seconds.

1. Never use cruise control when roads are wet or slippery.

How to get moving

You can usually start moving on ice or packed snow by accelerating gently. If this does not work, or if you are on a slight downgrade, try moving in second gear.

If you are stuck in deep snow, try rocking your vehicle. To do this, start forward, gently accelerate and you will move forward a little. When your wheels spin, immediately stop accelerating and hold the vehicle with the brake to stop it from rolling back. Shift to reverse, release the brake and accelerate gently. You will move back. When the wheels spin again, stop immediately. Repeat the forward-backward rocking movement, increasing the distance you move each time until you gain sufficient momentum to keep moving ahead. Be sure the wheels have stopped turning before changing gears to avoid damage to your transmission.

Search for traction. Look for sand or grit. Choose snow rather than ice. A small movement to one side will often move you from a low traction icy patch onto snow or sand. This motion can usually be completed in your lane.

How to stop on slippery surfaces

  1. Shift to neutral (or declutch) before you brake.
  2. Brake early and gently using the threshold technique. (See Threshold braking.)
  3. Again, search for the best traction and position your vehicle to take advantage of it.
  4. Allow extra space for other drivers to stop. They may not be as skilled as you, or their traction may be worse.

Temptations to resist

  1. Accelerating hard when you are passing.
  2. Using cruise control on wet or slippery roads.
  3. Forgetting that other drivers may not be making proper allowances for winter conditions.
  4. Letting your gas tank drop below half full.


Whiteouts occur when the sky, horizon and ground blend into one, making it very difficult to determine your position on the road. All shadows and distinctions disappear, so that you can barely tell where the road ends and the ditch begins.

The first snowfalls

During the first few snowfalls, drive very slowly and keep a fivesecond following distance. It takes time to change from your summer driving patterns. Exaggerate your gentleness on your brake and accelerator pedals and you will stay out of the line-ups at the body shop.


Lives continue to be lost in Saskatchewan winter blizzards.

Dress warmly for long trips. Do not be deceived by the false comfort of a well-heated car and wear indoor clothes on long journeys.

Before starting a long trip, listen to weather forecasts and pay attention to storm warnings. If storms develop while you are travelling, seriously consider stopping over in a town or village, rather than continuing, when there is a possibility of being stranded.

If you are stranded:

  1. Always stay with your vehicle.
  2. Keep calm.
  3. Lower your downwind-side windows slightly and open the heater air vent to get fresh air into the vehicle.
  4. Run the engine to get some heat, and to listen to news reports, but do not run out of gas.
  5. Keep your exhaust pipe clear of ice and snow.
  6. Get into your emergency clothing before you get cold.
  7. If necessary, use candles to keep warm. Be careful not to overexert yourself by shovelling or by pushing your vehicle.

Many people die when they leave their vehicles to walk for help in a blizzard. If you stay with your vehicle, you have a better chance of surviving and are more likely to be found.

Tens of thousands of Manitoba residents outside Winnipeg, including its rural First Nations communities, are still without power days after a massive snowstorm.

Read more

Extreme weather takes $70 million toll in Ontario, says Insurance …

By Jessy Bains | Yahoo Finance Canada

Ontario’s cold, hot, and cold again weather caused over $70 million in insurance damage, says the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

February’s deep freeze was followed by warm weather, which led to snowmelt, ice jams, and flooding. Heavy rain and snow in some areas in early March brought more of the same.

Feb. 4 was a record-breaking day, as the temperature jumped to as high as 15 C in parts of the province. Northern Ontario was blanketed by up to 40 centimetres of snow. There was freezing rain and drizzle from Sault. Ste Marie to Ottawa. Meanwhile, southern Ontario was soaked with rain.

“There were widespread reports of water-related damage from this event including basement leakage, sewer backups, and burst pipes,” IBC said.

“A burst water main in downtown Toronto created two sinkholes. Roads flooded in Ottawa and Cornwall due to clogged catch basins.”

IBC says the damage from this weather event alone was over $33 million.

March 9 brought strong winds, warm temperatures, followed by rain and even freezing rain in some areas.

“Throughout portions of southern Ontario there were reports of flooding and water-related damage due to heavy rain and snowmelt,” IBC said.

“Much of the damage was in Toronto and surrounding areas, caused by the melting of an unusually large snowpack. Damage included roof and basement leaks.”

The damage was close to $37 million.

IBC is calling on all levels of government to spend more on mitigating the impact of extreme weather events. It wants to see improved building codes, better land-use planning, incentives to shift the development of homes and businesses away from areas at high risk of flooding, and upgraded infrastructure to protect communities from floods.

For every dollar insurers pay out for claims, IBC estimates government pays $3 to repair the damaged public infrastructure.

Homeowners can also be proactive when it comes to these types of situations.

“It is important that property owners take precautions and protect their properties to minimize potential damage,” said Kim Donaldson, Vice-President, Ontario of IBC, in a news release.

“They should also understand their insurance policies and know whether they have overland flood coverage.”

Canada’s Changing Climate Report Confirms Increase in Extreme Rainfall

OTTAWAApril 2, 2019 /CNW/ – Today, the Government of Canada released Canada’s Changing Climate Report. This first report, part of the government’s Canada in a Changing Climate: Advancing our Knowledge for Action, provides a firm scientific foundation for future analyses and is a valuable tool for governments who are looking for ways to adapt and make their communities more resilient.

The report concludes that Canada is seeing the effects of widespread warming and projects that they will intensify in the future. Annual precipitation is projected to increase in all regions of Canada[1] and a warmer climate is expected to intensify some weather extremes. Projected increases in extreme precipitation are expected to increase the potential for future urban flooding.

The report says Canadians can expect extreme hot temperatures to become more frequent and more intense. This will increase the severity of heatwaves and contribute to increased drought and wildfire risks. While inland flooding results from multiple factors, more intense rainfalls will increase urban flood risks. Under the high emission scenario explored in this report, a current 1-in-20-year extreme rainfall event will become a 1-in-10-year event by mid-century (a two-fold increase in frequency).

The report clearly points to the need to adapt now to make our communities more resilient.

“The property and casualty insurance industry continues to see the devastating effects of this new era of an unpredictable, changing climate,” said Don Forgeron, President and CEO, IBC.

“Last year, insured damage from severe weather across Canada reached $2 billion, the fourth-highest amount of losses on record,” continued Forgeron. “However, unlike the 1998 Quebec ice storm, the 2013 Calgary floods or the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire, no single event caused the high amount paid out for losses in 2018. Instead, Canadians and their insurers experienced significant losses from a host of smaller severe weather events from coast to coast.”

IBC has encouraged all levels of government to increase their investments in mitigating the impact of extreme weather and building resiliency to its damaging effects. In addition to advocating for upgraded infrastructure to protect communities from floods, IBC is also advocating for improved building codes, better land-use planning, and incentives to shift the development of homes and businesses away from areas that are at highest risk of flooding.

The storm that hit Ontario on February 24 and 25, 2019, with damaging wind gusts, freezing rain and blizzard conditions caused over $48 million in insured damage. This is just the first severe weather storm to hit Ontario in 2019. In 2018, insured losses from severe weather reached $1.3 billion in that province.

It is not only insurers that foot the bill for severe weather damage. For every dollar that insurers pay out for home and business insurance claims, IBC estimates that governments pays out $3 to recover the public infrastructure that is damaged by severe weather.

Follow us on Twitter @InsuranceBureau or like us on Facebook. If you have a question about home, auto or business insurance, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.

IBC issues warning for Atlantic Canada to prepare for spring storm

Environment Canada issued a mixture of snowfall and rainfall warnings for Nova ScotiaNew BrunswickPrince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. Atlantic Canadians are encouraged to monitor their local weather. The region has seen rain and snow combined with high winds overnight and is expected to continue throughout the day.

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) would like consumers to prepare for potential flooding to protect themselves from harm. During a severe weather event, everyone’s priority must be their personal safety and the safety of loved ones and neighbours.

Many Canadian insurers now offer some form of overland flood insurance for homeowners which, along with sewer backup coverage, helps reduce the financial hardship of these events. However, most often these products are optional and may need to be added to your home insurance policy, so it’s important to check with your insurer to confirm whether you have coverage or if you are able to purchase it.

What to expect from insurance coverage for water damage

  • Damage as a result of sewer backup may be covered by home insurance if the coverage was either included in your home policy or you purchased it as an add-on to your policy.  Varying amounts of sewer backup coverage might be available to you, so contact your insurance representative to discuss.
  • Damage to vehicles caused by water is usually covered if you carry comprehensive or all perils coverage, but remember this  coverage isn’t mandatory, so check your policy or talk to your insurance representative.
  • Not all home insurance policies in Canada cover overland flooding and only some offer coverage for groundwater seepage.
    • Overland flooding usually occurs when bodies of water, such as rivers, streams, lakes, dams and other watercourses, overflow onto dry land and cause damage.

Tips for starting the claims process

When it is safe to do so, take these steps to begin the insurance claims process:

  • Assess and document potential damage. Taking photos can be helpful.
  • Call your insurance representative to report your damage.
  • Keep good notes and be as detailed as possible when providing information. Be sure to keep all receipts related to cleanup.
  • Contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC (1-844-227-5422 ext 228) if you need further information about home, business or car insurance,

For more information on how to protect property against severe weather, floods and other disasters, visit IBC’s website.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada
Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.

P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 126,000 Canadians, pays $9 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $54.7 billion.

For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at Follow us on Twitter @InsuranceBureau or like us on Facebook. If you have a question about home, auto or business insurance, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.

If you require more information, IBC spokespeople are available to discuss the details in this media release.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

It’s cold, but warming real

By David Suzuki

Weather and climate aren’t the same. It’s one thing for people who spend little or no time learning about global warming to confuse the two, but when those we elect to represent us don’t know the difference, we’re in trouble.

For a U.S. president to tweet about what he referred to as “Global Waming” because parts of the country are experiencing severe winter conditions displays a profound ignorance that would be embarrassing for an ordinary citizen, let alone the leader of a world power.

To understand the distinction, it’s important to know the difference between “global warming” and “climate change.” Although the terms are often used interchangeably, there’s a subtle difference. Current global warming refers to the overall phenomenon whereby global average temperatures are steadily increasing more rapidly than can be explained by natural factors. Much of the climate change we’re already seeing — from increasing extreme weather events to floods and drought to altered ocean currents — is a result of global warming.

That’s leading to a range of impacts, “including rising sea levels; shrinking mountain glaciers; accelerating ice melt in Greenland, Antarctica and the Arctic; and shifts in flower/plant blooming times,” according to NASA. That, in turn, affects everything from the food we grow and eat to water availability to human migration.

Both “global warming” and “climate change” refer to average long-term phenomena and effects, whereas “weather” refers to local changes in climate “on short timescales from minutes to hours to days to weeks,” such as “rain, snow, clouds, winds, thunderstorms, heat waves and floods,” NASA says.

So, what about those record cold temperatures in parts of the eastern U.S. and Canada? To start, global warming is global; it doesn’t refer to one specific place. While parts of North America are experiencing record cold, places like Australia are seeing record-breaking heat. Globally, the past four years have been the hottest on record, and the warmest 20 have occurred over the past 22 years.

Several studies show global warming is causing an increasing number of cold-weather events in eastern North America. “Warm temperatures in the Arctic cause the jet stream to take these wild swings, and when it swings farther south, that causes cold air to reach farther south. These swings tend to hang around for awhile, so the weather we have in the eastern United States, whether it’s cold or warm, tends to stay with us longer,” said Jennifer Francis, research professor of marine and coastal sciences in Rutgers’ School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, who co-authored one study published in Nature Communications.

This, according to National Geographic, also means “floods last longer and droughts become more persistent.”

The study found, “severe winter weather is two to four times more likely in the eastern United States when the Arctic is abnormally warm than when the Arctic is abnormally cold.” Winters are also colder in northern Europe and Asia when the Arctic is warm. The opposite is true in western North America, where severe winter weather is more likely “when the Arctic is colder than normal.” The effects are more pronounced when Arctic warming reaches beyond the surface, causing disruptions in the stratospheric polar vortex.

Warmer temperatures can also lead to increased precipitation, which falls as snow when temperatures drop below freezing. As a Scientific American article notes, warmer temperatures in winter 2006 prevented Lake Erie from freezing for the first time in history, which “led to increased snowfalls because more evaporating water from the lake was available for precipitation.”

Melting ice in the Arctic, Antarctic and on glaciers exposes land or sea, creating feedback loops, as dark surfaces absorb more solar heat than ice and snow, which reflect it. This accelerates warming.

So, no, a cold day where you live isn’t evidence that global warming is a “hoax.”

– David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Source: Castanet

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