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Extreme cold challenges vehicles, outdoor workers

If you had trouble starting your vehicle on Monday, you weren’t alone.

An Arctic air mass swept through much of the country on Monday causing temperatures to hit dangerously low levels. Widespread wind chill warnings were in effect across southern Manitoba with wind chill values ranging from the -40s to -50s, according to Environment Canada.

But CAA Manitoba only has the cold temperatures to thank for putting them on the right track when it comes to setting a new service call record. By 2 p.m. on Monday, CAA Manitoba had already serviced 744 vehicles across the province.

“We set a record yesterday with the most service calls within a 24-hour period,” said Chris Heide, service centre manager for CAA Manitoba in Brandon, said Tuesday. “We’ve been averaging over 1,500 calls a day within the month of January so far.”

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/1/2013 (1670 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

If you had trouble starting your vehicle on Monday, you weren’t alone.

An Arctic air mass swept through much of the country on Monday causing temperatures to hit dangerously low levels. Widespread wind chill warnings were in effect across southern Manitoba with wind chill values ranging from the -40s to -50s, according to Environment Canada.

Carpenter Matt Mavin with Valcourt Construction is bundled up against the cold while working on a four-plex condo being built along Sycamore Drive on Tuesday.

TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN

Carpenter Matt Mavin with Valcourt Construction is bundled up against the cold while working on a four-plex condo being built along Sycamore Drive on Tuesday.

A worker in a front-end loader clears snow from the sidewalks surrounding Stanley Park on a bitterly cold Tuesday.

TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN

A worker in a front-end loader clears snow from the sidewalks surrounding Stanley Park on a bitterly cold Tuesday.

But CAA Manitoba only has the cold temperatures to thank for putting them on the right track when it comes to setting a new service call record. By 2 p.m. on Monday, CAA Manitoba had already serviced 744 vehicles across the province.

"We set a record yesterday with the most service calls within a 24-hour period," said Chris Heide, service centre manager for CAA Manitoba in Brandon, said Tuesday. "We’ve been averaging over 1,500 calls a day within the month of January so far."

The last busiest day like this one on record was on Jan. 30, 2008, when 1,125 service calls came in across the province.

Heide said that CAA Manitoba is predicting that there will be a total of 48,000 service calls made across the province by the end of this month.

"This only includes the members that we are able to get out and help," he said.

To avoid dealing with the frustrating realization that your vehicle won’t start, Heide suggests setting a reminder on your phone as a way of remembering to plug in your car, something that he said too many Manitobans are forgetting to do every night.

"Boosting cars takes up a huge amount of our service calls," Heide said. "Those of us that lived here our entire lives still forget to plug in, generally speaking if you plug in you’re OK."

Another way of ensuring that your vehicle starts the next morning is to make sure your gas tank stays about half full, as colder temperatures can be harsher on your engine.

As for keeping frost off your windshield, some motorists are still using frost shields, a protective shield that is placed on top of your windshield to help prevent window frosting and fogging.

"They are good for keeping your vision, if anyone had blankets on their windshields that’s good to do, too," said Allan West, owner of Custom Tarps and Filters in Brandon. "Any type of cover helps with that, keeps it safe kind of thing and you don't have to run your car as long."

Although Allan admits that he used to sell more frost shields in the 1970s and ’80s, he said that the company continues to be the only place in North America that manufactures them.

"To the general public for new shaped automobiles we don’t sell too many, but guys with highway tractors, graters that kind of thing do still use them."

Those who work outside are also feeling the brunt of the cold temperatures that are expected to continue throughout the week.

SAFE Manitoba issued a press release on Tuesday encouraging employers and workers to prepare to work in extreme cold weather conditions in order to prevent cold stress, frostbite and hypothermia.

Some tips the organization shared for staying warm include wearing layered, dry and insulated clothing with a windproof and waterproof outer shell. Taking warm breaks indoors, staying hydrated with warm drinks and keeping your body moving but limiting heavy work to avoid perspiration can also help ensure safe working conditions.

» lenns@brandonsun.com

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