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A Reminder of the Preventive Measures to be Adopted Periods of Extreme Cold Conditions

Cold weather has arrived in Ile-de-France and lower temperatures may be the cause of health hazards, whether they are directly related to the cold (Hypothermia, frostbite and aggravated cardio-vascular hazards, etc.) or related to improper heating conditions.

A Brief Reminder of the Preventive Measures to be Adopted :

1.    Protecting Oneself from the Cold

Cold weather makes additional demands on the body, particularly on the heart, which must beat faster to counteract cooling. As such, it is best to limit exerting physical effort outdoors, even for those who are in good physical condition.  

In order to limit the risks of hypothermia* or frostbite, properly cover all extremities: the head, hands and feet. You must also protect your nose and mouth to breathe in less cold air. 

Despite popular belief, consuming alcohol does not warm someone up. To the contrary -- it could potentially be hazardous, since numbness blocks signals alerting to the presence of cold and we tend not to think to protect ourselves.

Don't forget to pay additional attention to children and the elderly, who frequently do not complain about the cold.

Finally, should you see someone in the street who is homeless or who is experiencing difficulty due to the cold, dial 115.

2.    Protecting Oneself from Hazards Related to Defective or Improperly Used Heaters

During cold weather periods, inhabitants must strictly observe the instructions for use of fuel-burning appliances to prevent any risk of carbon monoxide poisoning (**).

  • Do not overheat your dwelling, but instead heat normally while ensuring proper ventilation. Never block ventilation openings.
  • Prohibit the use of inappropriate heating devices, such as cookers, barbecues and charcoal grills.
  • Do not continuously use space heaters. These devices must only operate intermittently.
  • Contact a qualified professional to verify that your heating appliance is properly installed and runs properly.
  • It is strictly necessary to install generators outside of buildings, never within an enclosed space. They must never be used indoors .

Should you suspect a potential instance of carbon monoxide poisoning, you must evacuate the premises and dial emergency responders: the single European emergency call number (112), the fire service (18) or the SAMU - emergency medical service (15).

3.    In the Event of Snowfall: Sweep in Front of your Door 

While it is the City's responsibility to remove snow from municipal streets, it is the responsibility of inhabitants to remove snow (or to arrange for its removal) from the sidewalks in front of their home (1933 by-law). In fact, landlords and/or tenants are liable in the event of accidents occurring on their doorstep. This act of good citizenship enables all inhabitants to easily and safely move about the city .

The bylaw dated July 31, 1933 is not only very clear, it is still enforced :

"Inhabitants are instructed to sweep (or arrange for sweeping), and to remove weeds from the sidewalks next to shops, workshops, buildings or properties for which they are landlords or tenants. Sweeping will take place everyday before 7:30 a.m., from April 1 to October 1, and before 8 a.m., from October 1 to April 1.

In the event of snow, ice or thawing, landlords and tenants (...) are obliged to perform one or more additional sidewalk cleanings, to clear snow into piles, to break ice that has formed on streams and, in the case of black ice, to spread sand or ashes on these sidewalks."

In the event of snowfall, it is further recommended to sweep the snow while it is still freshly fallen in order to prevent having it freeze on the sidewalk.

* Hypothermia: a drop in body temperature below 35°C

** In France, carbon monoxide poisoning remains the number one cause of accidental death. Carbon monoxide is an undetectable, invisible, odourless, non irritant suffocating gas. It results from improper combustion within an appliance that runs on gas, wood, coal, petrol, fuel or ethanol. It can lead to fatal poisoning in a matter of minutes. 

©photo: Annie Dancette - Le Bel Air