Haldimand County, OPP, GRCA Encourage Water Safety

Haldimand County, OPP and the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) encourages all local residents and visitors to the County to take personal responsibility and make water safety for themselves and their children a priority this summer. It is extremely important for everyone to be aware of safe boating and swimming practices while enjoying the waterways in Haldimand County.

On Tuesday June 8, 2021 at 2:53 p.m., OPP responded to the dam area of the Grand River in Caledonia for a report of a dangerous condition. A concerned passerby noticed a group of youths walking along and swimming in the dam area.

Investigation revealed the youths entered a prohibited area, marked by red and white danger signs, and into the water. Fortunately no one was injured and all parties were accounted for. Tragedy can happen very quickly and the danger of the waters should never be underestimated.

Every year, emergency service personnel respond to many marine related calls including stranded boaters, people fishing or swimming in unsafe areas. Many times, misadventure can lead to tragedy.

It can’t be stressed enough that everyone using the waterways understand the importance of not swimming or boating in prohibited areas. The dam areas in Dunnville and Caledonia are often used by individuals but the water conditions are extremely dangerous.

’Run of the river’ dams, like those in Caledonia and Dunnville may not be as visible from upstream and pose a great risk to river users who disregard warning signs. Like larger dams, low-head dams can also create an underwater recirculating current downstream that is nearly impossible to escape. This current can be so strong that it has the ability to pull people under water, even while wearing a lifejacket. Never swim, walk on, fish, or boat near these dams.

GRCA dams are marked by red and white danger signs. There are also fences, buoys and booms warning you to keep out. You should always:

  • Stay a safe distance outside of the marked danger areas when fishing, boating and swimming
  • Stay off all dams. Use only approved walkways or observation areas.

All parents and caregivers are encouraged to speak with their children about water safety and the dangers of prohibited areas.

The prevention of drownings requires law enforcement efforts and public education but most importantly, prevention starts with you.

There is no one single cause that leads to drownings but there are common contributors. Basic safety practices such as learning to swim at an early age; wearing a lifejacket or a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) while on a vessel or in water; adult supervision of children while swimming; and not drinking and boating can make the difference between surviving, or not.

OPP is also reminding all boaters to ensure they have all of the required safety equipment on board as well as all the required documents to operate a vessel.

For more information about dam safety, visit the GRCA’s website at www.grandriver.ca/en/our-watershed/safety-around-dams

For more information regarding water safety, visit the Lifesaving Society website at www.lifesavingsociety.com/water-safety

For more information on boating safety, visit the Transport Canada website at www.tc.gc.ca/boatingsafety

Haldimand County Emergency Services Issues Important Reminders Ahead Of Emergency Preparedness Week (May 2-8, 2021)

Emergency Preparedness Week (EP Week) is an annual, nationwide event that encourages Canadians to be proactive in planning for potential emergencies. This year, EP week runs from May 2 to 8, 2021. Haldimand County Emergency Services is encouraging all residents to spend some time creating a family emergency plan and assembling a 72-hour emergency kit.

“Emergencies and disasters can happen anytime, anywhere,” said Don Otterman, Deputy Chief, Paramedic Services. “Emergencies aren’t always environmental and can take many forms. In order to be prepared, every resident should have a plan and an emergency kit ready to take care of themselves and their family for at least 72 hours,” he added.

72-hour kits should include a variety of items including: a flashlight, batteries, non-perishable food, water, a sewing kit, copies of important IDs (e.g: birth certificates), medications, towels, rope and garbage bags among other necessities.

Otterman emphasized the importance of including children in emergency readiness discussions and planning. “With ample time at home these days, there’s no better time to sit down with your whole family, make a plan and assemble a kit. You can even turn it into a fun activity and allow kids to be active participants in planning,” he added.

For an emergency plan to be successful, every family member should have a role and know what to do. Parents are encouraged to utilize Haldimand County’s activity books to educate their children on what to do and how to stay calm in case of an emergency. Family pets should also be considered when making preparations.

Staying connected and informed is another important part of emergency preparedness. Knowing where to look for information and updates throughout an emergency situation is critically important. In addition to local radio – specifically 92.9 The Grand FM, the County’s emergency broadcast partner – residents should monitor local news outlets, the County website and County social media accounts (Facebook & Twitter). Specific instructions and timely updates from emergency officials (e.g: evacuation information) will be shared through these channels.

Emergency preparedness resources – including a 72 hour kit and evacuation checklist – are available on the Haldimand County website and GetPrepared.gc.ca. Anyone with questions related to emergency preparedness may also call Haldimand County Emergency Services at 905-318-5932.

Fire Department Urging Residents To Abide By Open Air Burn By-Laws Following Increase In Fire Complaints

With the return of warmer weather there has been an increase in the number of recreational and non-recreational fire complaints in Haldimand County. Haldimand County Fire Department is reminding residents of the Open Air Burn By-law and asking for everyone’s cooperation to ensure that outdoor fires are safe and controlled.

Recreational (small) fires are allowed in all areas without a permit as long as the fire meets all of the regulations set out in the Open Air Burn By-law. These regulations include, but are not limited to: ensuring the fire is contained and supervised at all times and that it is set back at least 10 meters from combustible buildings/structures. A means of extinguishing the fire must be available and measures must be in place to ensure that no one is adversely affected by the products of combustion (smoke and odours).

Non-recreational fires are only permitted in certain areas of the County and require a burn permit that can be applied for online via the Haldimand County website. An eligibility map is available for property owners to check whether they are permitted to conduct non-recreational burns.

Non-recreational fires must meet all of the regulations set out in the by-law. These regulations include, but are not limited to: ensuring fires are supervised at all times and contained to an area not exceeding 6 meters by 6 meters. Non-recreational fires must also be set back at least 60 meters from all buildings, roadways and anything combustible.

Open air fires that are not conducted according to the by-law present potential safety hazards. Anyone conducting an open air fire that violates the by-law are subject to fines, provincial prosecution and recovery of costs required to respond to and/or extinguish the fire.

For more information, visit:

Haldimand County logo. A yellow sun rising or setting atop green and blue waves. Haldimand County in black lettering below.

Ontario Provincial Police and partners launch Fraud Prevention Month campaign

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Anti-Rackets Branch, Serious Fraud Office Ontario (SFO) and its Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) partners are launching their annual Fraud Prevention Month campaign.

During the month of March, the OPP, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), CAFC and the Competition Bureau of Canada are joining police services across the country to promote public awareness to help prevent all Canadians from becoming victims of fraud.

This year, the OPP’s Fraud Prevention Month campaign will highlight five important topics pertaining to online safety, security and fraud prevention:

  • Buying and Selling Online;
  • Online Financial Scams;
  • Securing Your Accounts and Your Identity;
  • Email Scams; and
  • Online Scams.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed how Canadians shop, conduct business, learn and interact with each other. As a result, a significant shift has been made to utilize technology, which has resulted in considerable positive changes. However, this has not come without a cost. This past year numerous Canadians, businesses and organizations have fallen victim to the destructive toll of cyber enabled crimes.

In 2020, the CAFC received 19,473 fraud reports from 9,858 Ontario victims who reported losing approximately $47 million to fraudsters. Moreover CAFC received, 67,294 reports from Canadian consumers and businesses that reported losses totalling more than $104.2 million. Unfortunately, this figure only represents the losses related to approximately five percent of fraud victims who report the crime to police or the CAFC.

Fraudsters have embraced technologies to engage, target and exploit victims, often with devastating financial and emotional effects. All Canadians can take basic steps to better protect themselves from becoming a victim of fraud. Some basic online tips include:

  • Creating strong passwords;
  • Avoid opening unsolicited emails or clicking on suspicious links or attachments;
  • Restricting the amount of information shared publicly;
  • Show caution with regards to social media; and
  • Update technical security software.

Fraud Prevention Month is about the fraud prevention community working together to create greater awareness and to highlight the various ways that all Canadians are being targeted by fraud. By emphasizing the education component, Canadians can be better prepared.

If you do fall victim to a fraud or know someone who has, we urge individuals to contact your local police service and the CAFC by phone at 1-888-495-8501 or online by way of the Fraud Reporting System (FRS), even if a financial loss did not occur.

The public is encouraged to engage in the conversation to help recognize, reject and report fraud by using the hashtags #FraudFriday, #FPM2021 #kNOwFraud, #Take5 #Tell2, #SeriousFraudOfficeON.

 LEARN MORE

For more fraud facts and figures and a downloadable booklet (PDF), visit The Competition Bureau of Canada website at

https://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/home or by visiting http://www.opp.ca and Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

Haldimand County Emergency Services Advising Residents Of Spring Flood Outlook, Asks Public To Stay Off Ice

Haldimand County Emergency Services is once again asking the public to stay off frozen waterways and cease recreation activities on ice due to unsafe conditions.

Despite the moderate start to winter through January, temperatures fell below the long-term average in February with much of the watershed seeing above average precipitation. These conditions have resulted in a snowpack with higher than average water content and intact, but unsafe, ice conditions on many local water bodies.

“Unstable ice and fast-moving water is a deadly combination. No ice is safe ice, and right now it is particularly dangerous,” said Deputy Fire Chief Rodger Hill. “At this time of the year, the composition of ice can change very quickly and in an instant you could find yourself in a life-threatening situation.”

The Grand River Conservation Authority’s latest Flood Outlook indicates an elevated risk of flooding throughout the Grand River watershed this spring, with the possibility of ice jam flooding.

The public is reminded that daily changes in underwater currents, temperature, wind, and precipitation can rapidly affect ice conditions. Residents typically prone to spring flooding should pay close attention to weather reports and watch for updated flood messages.

 

Haldimand County logo. A yellow sun rising or setting atop green and blue waves. Haldimand County is in black text below, slightly offset from centre.

Haldimand County Emergency Services Reminds Residents To Stay Off Partially Frozen Waterways

Haldimand County Emergency Services is reminding the public to be extremely cautious around partially frozen waterways. Due to recent mild temperatures, venturing out onto ice for recreational activities is not safe and strongly discouraged.

“In Haldimand County we are lucky to be so close to Lake Erie, the Grand River, and an abundance of ponds, streams and tributaries that fulfill many recreational pursuits. Ice activities like skating and fishing can be enjoyed when conditions are favorable, but there will always be a level of risk,” said Jason Gallagher, Manager of Emergency Services and Fire Chief. “By venturing out right now, you’d be putting your safety and the safety of others in jeopardy,” Gallagher added.

According to safety agencies like the Red Cross, ice should be at least 20cm thick for a person to walk or skate on. There is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice, however, precautions can be taken to reduce the risks. Understanding ice colour, location, weather and what to do in an emergency can help prevent tragedy.

Color and Depth

The colour of ice may be an indication of its strength − clear blue to black ice is strongest, and likely the deepest. You should only skate on ice that is 20+ cm thick. White opaque or snow ice should be avoided. Grey ice indicates the presence of water and is unsafe to stand on.

Location

Ice thickness is never consistent. The weakest ice will be in the center and along the edge of the water. Avoid streams and flowing water, even if they look frozen. Avoid ice that has recently frozen, thawed, and then frozen again.

Weather

Swings above zero can compromise the integrity of ice by melting existing ice or changing the water level, leaving unsafe spots in both the centre and shoreline of a water body.

Before going out on ice, you should always check ice conditions, be prepared for a worst-case scenario and have an emergency plan in place. Remember to abide by public health guidelines and practice social distancing when enjoying outdoor areas. For more information about ice safety, visit HaldimandCounty.ca/emergency-preparedness or RedCross.ca.

Haldimand County Emergency Services reports increase in motor vehicle-farm equipment collisions

Haldimand County Emergency Services has seen an increase in collisions involving motor vehicles and slow-moving farm equipment.

Fire Chief / EMS Manager Jason Gallagher is urging motorists to stay alert, slow down and share the road with farm equipment. Gallagher is also and reminding farm equipment operators to ensure their equipment has proper lighting and a reflective slow-moving vehicle emblem.

“Although we’re past peak harvest season, there are still farming operations underway throughout the County and slow-moving farm equipment on our roads. We’ve seen an increase in collisions that could have been prevented, and ask that everyone utilizing County roads do their part to keep them safe,” said Gallagher.

Both motorists and farm equipment operators have been found to be at fault in recent collisions.

Roadway safety for motorists

  • Stay alert for slow-moving farm equipment, especially at dawn or dusk when visibility is reduced;
  • Slow down and be patient when approaching slow-moving machinery from behind;
  • Wait to pass until you have a clear view of the road ahead and there is no oncoming traffic;
  • Never pass on a hill or curve.

Roadway safety for farm equipment operators

  • Make sure any farm equipment being driven on roadways is properly marked with lights and a “slow-moving vehicle” emblem;
  • Drive as far to the right as possible;
  • If traffic accumulates behind you on a road where it is difficult to make a safe pass, you should pull off onto the side of the road in a level area, so the vehicles can pass;
  • If possible, avoid traveling on roadways at dawn or dusk when it is more difficult for drivers of other vehicles to see;
  • Always use a seat belt when operating a tractor equipped with a roll-over protection structure.

Haldimand County Seeking Resident Input On Urban And Rural Speed Limits

Haldimand County is seeking input on proposed changes to current speed limits in all urban neighbourhoods and select rural areas. An online survey has been developed to collect resident feedback, results of which will be considered by staff and Council.

The first proposal is to reduce the speed limit to 40 km/h (from the standard 50 km/h) in all urban neighborhoods, including the smaller hamlets and villages such as Selkirk, Fisherville and York.

The second proposal is to lower the speed limit to 40 km/h in some rural areas, in particular South Coast Drive, Lakeshore Road and North Shore Drive along the lakeshore.

The primary objective of these proposed changes is to reduce vehicle speed and thereby increase road safety in areas with higher pedestrian/cyclist traffic.

A link to the online survey can be found on the main page of HaldimandCounty.ca; the survey may also be accessed directly via www.surveymonkey.com/r/HCspeedsurvey.

Residents are encouraged to take the survey and submit comments by November 8, 2020. To request paper copies of the survey, visit the Haldimand County Administration Building or contact the County’s Engineering division by e-mail engineering@haldimandcounty.on.ca or phone: 905-318-5932 ext. 6404.

High Winds And Waves May Cause Erosion, Minor Flooding In Low-Lying Areas Along The Lakeshore Wednesday

A Watershed/Shoreline Conditions Statement is in effect for much of the Lake Erie shoreline. With high winds and waves in the forecast, Haldimand County Emergency Services is urging residents to stay away from shoreline areas. These weather conditions may cause erosion and minor flooding in low-lying areas along the lake. The Port Maitland Pier is also being closed due to high water levels.

Current forecasts are calling for sustained westerly to southwesterly winds of 40 to 50 km/hr. with gusts approaching 70 km/hr. These winds will increase water levels and waves along the Lake Erie Shoreline.

Significant wave heights of 1.5m (5 feet) are forecast to occur all along the Lake Erie shoreline. Water levels are starting to build, and peak water levels will occur late afternoon today with the potential for another peak late this evening.

People are urged to use caution or stay away from Lake Erie shoreline areas experiencing strong wave action and elevated water levels. Parents are reminded to keep children and pets away from these areas.

Haldimand County Emergency Services and Roads crews will be actively monitoring conditions along the lake and are prepared to respond if needed.

A flood guide for lakeshore property owners can be found at HaldimandCounty.ca/floods.

 

Haldimand County Fire Department Issues Important Cooking Safety Reminders Ahead Of Fire Prevention Week (Oct 4-10)

With Fire Prevention Week just around the corner, Haldimand County Fire Department is reminding residents of simple steps that can be taken to prevent kitchen fires. This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme, which runs from October 4-10, is “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!™”

The theme is very timely as cooking fires continue to be the leading cause of home fires in Ontario.

Simple steps to serve up fire safety in the kitchen include:

  • Always stay in the kitchen when cooking and turn off the stove if you must leave the kitchen.
  • Keep a proper fitting lid near the stove. If a pot of oil catches fire, slide the lid over the pot and turn off the stove. Do not move the pot. Never throw water on a burning pot.
  • Keep anything that burns – plastic utensils, dishcloths, paper towels – a safe distance from the stove.
  • Cook responsibly. To prevent cooking fires, you must be alert. You will not be alert if you have consumed alcohol or drugs.
  • Wear tight-fitting or rolled up sleeves when using the stove. Loose, dangling clothing can easily catch fire.
  • Keep young kids one metre away from the stove. Turn pot handles away from the stove’s edge so they can’t be easily knocked off.
  • If you burn yourself while cooking, run cool water over the wound for three to five minutes. If the burn is severe, seek medical attention.

“As the weather cools and we start spending more time indoors, fire safety top should be top of mind, especially when cooking,” said Fire Chief Jason Gallagher. “Often when we’re called to a fire that started in the kitchen, residents tell us they only stepped away for a few minutes, but that’s all it takes for a dangerous fire to start,” Gallagher noted.

In addition to practicing fire safety in the kitchen, Gallagher urges all residents to test their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and ensure there is one working device on each floor of the home, as well as outside of all sleeping areas. Families are also encouraged to develop a home fire escape plan if they don’t have one already.

Residents with questions about fire prevention are encouraged to make use of the resources available on the County website or contact the County’s Fire Prevention Bureau at 905-318-5932.

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