Aluminum air pipes

Calgary cold snap causes frozen pipes, long AMA wait times, spike in EMS calls

A freezing, record-breaking cold spell caused problems for many Calgarians, such as burst pipes, long wait times for battery boost, and increased risk of frostbite.

At 5 p.m. on Monday, wind chill values ​​were around -43 in the city.

Cold temperatures prompted the Alberta Energy System Operator to issue a emergency alert level 2 Monday evening, due to weather conditions affecting part of the energy production.

The extreme cold has also frozen pipes inside some homes and buildings, the city’s drinking water manager Chris Huston said on Monday.

He says since Christmas the city has received around 50 calls for it.

“Most of the calls we get is because cold air… gets inside a building and freezes the pipes,” Huston said.

Meanwhile, Huston says residents should avoid leaving windows open, especially in the basement.

“It’s not recommended. Or if you’re going to do it, make sure you have… either a heater or something around.”

Knowing the location of your home’s internal water valve is also important in the event of a broken pipe, the city manager said.

“If you have a broken hose or something cracked and it’s leaking, the valve will shut off the water for you.”

AMA waiting time

The cold also caused headaches for motorists. The Alberta Motor Association currently has wait times of up to 42 hours for battery boost, lockouts, punctures and fuel delivery.

According to the AMA website, the company claims that during extreme weather conditions, the fleet experiences higher than normal service demands.

“The average wait time will increase as we prioritize members in unsafe conditions,” the WADA website read.

To be towed by the AMA, the wait can be up to 50 hours.

The AMA says that to protect your vehicle in cold weather, drivers should plug in their cars, fill up with gas, use winter tires and synthetic oils.

EMS calls

Between Calgary and Edmonton last weekend, emergency medical services responded to 45 cold-related calls.

Adam Loria, EMS public education manager, said if you must be outside, he recommends only staying outside for short periods of time before heading inside to warm up. .

And if possible, keep the skin covered to prevent frostbite.

“Yes [frostbite is] not recognized quickly enough, it could lead to more severe tissue damage or more severe frostbite or limb damage. But these are obviously extreme circumstances. “

Loria says there’s a high risk of hypothermia as well, especially in those who work outdoors or those who are homeless.

“People who walk or act disoriented, or who have difficulty speaking may experience hypothermia and should seek medical attention immediately.”

As the cold weather continues in Calgary, The Mustard Seed reminds people to keep the city’s vulnerable in mind. (Axel Tardieu / CBC)

Andrew Gusztak, the street-level manager of Mustard Seed’s 300-bed shelter, said his shelters have run out of capacity lately.

“We’re pretty full most of the time, but we’re working diligently to make sure we’re networked with the other shelters,” he said.

“I know from what the industry and industry leaders are talking about that there is still plenty of room in the entire Calgary shelter landscape for people to come home.”

And for those who see someone on the street in cold weather, the manager says it doesn’t hurt to get in touch with them to see if they’re okay.

“I inquire, ask questions: ‘Where are you staying tonight? Do you need help ? ” [and] by encouraging them to enter a heated room or shelter. “