98 entries categorized "Great Links"

Ensure that You and Your Family are Ready for an Emergency - Emergency Preparedness 101

When I was growing up, my father worked as a safety manager at a petrochemical plant in Alberta. Safety was his job, but also his passion, and so sitting around the kitchen table reviewing our family emergency plan was a yearly ritual: What do we do if the fire alarm goes off? How do we get out of each room of the house? Where do we meet up?

I always found it pretty exciting as a kid, and the importance of planning for the unexpected stuck with me. Also, once I’d moved away from home, I could expect my visiting father to look for the fire extinguishers and ask about my escape route within minutes of setting foot in any new place I was renting - and I’d better be ready with an answer!

Family creating an emergency plan
Family creating an emergency plan

These days, I’ve come to realize that “emergency preparedness” means more than it used to when I was growing up. Every year, the number of severe weather or dangerous environmental situations affecting Canadians seems to increase. The reality is that we could find ourselves encountering a crisis at any time of year, whether we're at home or on the road.

The general guidance from our government is that in the event that we’re cut off from power, supplies and assistance, we should be able to look after our own needs for at least 3 days. This allows strapped emergency crews to focus on the most vulnerable people first.

Despite my upbringing, I initially found the idea of preparing for these types of situations to be a little overwhelming. Putting together an emergency kit seemed like a great place to start. I found a good checklist online and assembled the following:

  • Water: a couple of larger containers and some smaller water bottles that are easier to carry
  • Food: cans, granola and energy/protein bars (small with lots of calories) - and an extra can opener just for the kit
  • This awesome hand-crank flashlight that my mom put in my Christmas stocking one year
  • A tiny little radio that runs on batteries (+ back up batteries)
  • First aid kit - I bought a small one that was pre-packed with all the essentials like bandages, wipes, and ointments
  • Some painkillers, and an extra doses of my allergy medications
  • A key ring with a set of extra house keys
  • An envelope with cash in smaller denominations
  • One of those little toothpastes I got from the dentist on my last check-up, and an extra toothbrush
  • A little bottle of hand sanitizer
  • Candles and matches
  • A photocopy of my passport and insurance info, sealed in a plastic bag
  • An extra charging cord for my mobile phone

I tucked my life-saving kit somewhere out of the way, but easy to grab. As a final check, I made sure my kit was not too heavy or cumbersome to carry should I need to throw it in the car, or travel somewhere by foot.

Packing all the items on the list got me thinking about emergencies in a less panicky and more proactive manner. Now that that was done, what about a plan for me and my loved ones? What happens if an emergency hits, and we’re not together? Where would we meet-up? How would we get word to each other, if communication systems were down? With the help of this online guide I was able to put together a plan that covers those scenarios, and review it with my partner and family.

Of course, my car is the final piece of my emergency prep package. I always make sure its maintenance is up to date and I keep the tank full. That way, in the case of a sudden evacuation order, I’m ready to go. I also keep an extra kit in the trunk packed with anything I might need if I were to be stranded on the road.

This year, I updated my emergency kits by purchasing ones put together by the experts at the Red Cross. The great thing about these is that they are compact, light and packed with all of the essentials mentioned above PLUS some useful extras: Mylar sleeping bags! Light sticks! Multi-purpose tools! I gotta say, these kits feel COMPLETE.

Contents of an emergency kit
Contents of an emergency kit

The world around us continues to be unpredictable, but I feel a little better about things, knowing that I’ve taken some steps to look after myself and my loved ones in the event of a crisis. If you haven’t already, I hope you will too. The first week of May is Emergency Preparedness Week #ReadyForAnything so the timing is just right to give your kits, plans and cars a once over, and make sure you’re ready for whatever surprises might come our way.

How do you stay prepared for the unexpected? What emergency kit items did I forget? Leave your tips and stories in the comments below!

(My Dad is going to be so proud when he reads this post.)

~ Paul D.

The Great Canadian Candy Basket

We’re coming up to the Easter long weekend, and depending on your faith and cultural practices, for many Canadians that means treats: hidden around the house, provided by loved ones, or dropped off by a very busy bunny. It’s a wonderful time to gather with family and friends and indulge in some sweetness. But did you know that certain candy bars and snacks are unique to our country, and our Canadian identity?

Basket of Canadian Candy and Snacks

A number of years ago, I was given the task of providing a basket of treats for my two American “nieces” who were visiting for the long weekend - the young daughters of my close college friends who had married and moved to the States shortly after graduation. I’m ashamed to say that I totally dropped the ball and was scrambling, the day of, to find a store that was open (Long weekend! Stat holidays!) and that had not been seriously picked over (if you’ve ever tried buying treats after Good Friday, you’ll know what I mean - all the “good stuff” is GONE).

During my desperate search, I stopped to get gas. I went in to pay and, glancing down at the row of candy bars at the counter, I had a stroke of genius: an idea that could turn me from a zero to a hero. Looking at the boxes of Smarties, I remembered my friends once remarking that they DIDN’T HAVE SMARTIES in the States. (They have a candy called “Smarties” apparently, but they are more like our sugary “Rockets”). As the friendly clerk scanned my card I wondered “What ELSE don’t they have?”.

I got on my phone and, after a quick google search, pulled up a list of Canada-exclusive candy. Scanning the list, I grabbed what I could that was in front of me, compiling an alarming array of goodies. Sure, there were no “bunnies” or “eggs” but there WAS delicious, exclusive Canadian content:

ONLY IN CANADA: Smarties, Eat More, Big Turk, Coffee Crisp, Maltesers, Caramilk, Wunderbar, Crispy Crunch, Mr. Big, Jersey Milk and MacIntosh’s Toffee.

And, not specifically exclusive to Canada, but NOT available in the States:

Wine Gums, Swedish Berries, Aero, Crunchie and Dairy Milk.

I topped it off with a bag of Hickory Sticks and Ketchup chips to complete the Canadian experience. The clerk looked at me with an expression that seemed to say hey, no judgement here, I don’t know your life, and said “I guess it's good to have snacks in the car. Just don’t keep them on your dashboard, or the chocolate will melt.”

After thanking her for her good wisdom, I headed to the hotel where my friends were staying. They seemed a little concerned when I presented the enormous stack of candy bars to their wide-eyed little girls but hey, it’s not my job to protect their kids from cavities. It IS my job to become their favourite Canadian “uncle”. Which I am.

The taste test that followed was a group event. The girls have a discerning palette, and had acute observations about our Canadian offerings:

Our chocolate is better, they decided. And it is! Canadian chocolate companies use a different recipe than Americans. The result is a smoother, sweeter, thicker coating. I confirmed for the girls that this has been well documented by the experts.

Big Turk (with its gelatinous Turkish Delight filling) is an acquired taste.

Coffee Crisp may be a national treasure, but it is for grown-up tastes. It was also decided that Dairy Milk’s Fruit and Nut is a chocolate bar… for dads.

Maltesers and CARAMILK beat their American cousins (Whoppers and Caramello) hands down for chocolate coating and quality of filling.

And, Wunderbar lives up to its reputation as the “greatest candy bar ever created,” as reported by the International Business Times.

So now you know. I hope you’ll go into this long weekend with these important lessons: If you are stuck for last-minute candy or snacks, your local Petro-Canada has got your back with a sweet and salty array of goodness. And don’t forget, it is possible to be patriotic whilst enjoying chocolate this weekend. #winning

What Canadian candy bar or snack keeps you fuelled up? Share your favourites in the comments below!

~ Paul D.

Cheering for our FACE™ Athletes at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games

If you’re like me, you may be going through a little bit of “Games withdrawal” since the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games ended. Good news! “The Games” ain’t over, folks. These past two weeks have only been a lull, before the action picks up again. From March 4 -13, the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games take place in Beijing, and Canada is sending 49 athletes from across the nation. With 5 sports competing, including wheelchair curling, Para ice hockey, Para alpine skiing, Para snowboard, and Para nordic skiing, these Paralympic Games are set to be the most exciting yet.

Lisa DeJong
Lisa DeJong, FACE Athlete (2021)

If you haven’t followed the Paralympic Games before, then this is the year to tune in. The Canadian team is stacked with accomplished competitors and fresh young talent. In the words of Josh Dueck, chef de mission for the Beijing 2022 Canadian Paralympic Team:“I know the performances and stories of these incredible athletes will elevate, motivate, and unite Canadians across the country, displaying the joy and resiliency of the human spirit and the power of sport to change lives.”

Now, I myself am no stranger to winter sport. In my youth, I was an exceptional downhill skier: exceptional in my eagerness, and my clumsiness. (I could never get the hang of that tow-rope, and was nicknamed “the wipe-out King” by my junior high ski club). HOWEVER, I loved the feel of the fresh winter air, and the thrill of a smooth and (though rare for me) graceful run. As an adult, witnessing the perseverance, dedication, courage and incredible skill of Paralympian winter athletes fills me with awe and admiration. These athletes are masters of their sport, and at the same time are pushing the boundaries of human achievement.

As you may remember from my previous PumpTalk about the Olympic Games, when it comes to cheering on Team Canada (from my couch) I can get a little worked up. I’ve been warming up for the Paralympic Winter Games by watching interviews from Petro-Canada’s Fuelling Great Athletes // Propulser de grands athlètes series, featuring Natalie Wilkie and her coach Robin McKeever (Para nordic skiing), Lyne-Marie Bilodeau and Coach Graham Nishikawa (Para nordic skiing), and Alexis Guimond and Coach Jean-Sébastien Labrie (Para alpine):

Both Natalie Wilkie and Lyne-Marie Bilodeau are past recipients of a Petro-Canada Fuelling Athlete and Coach Excellence (FACE™) grant. They will be joined in Beijing by 14 other FACE™ alumni including:

Mark Arendz
Mark Arendz, FACE Athlete (2008)

We’re proud to see so many past FACE™ grant recipients compete with the world’s best, and thrilled for their success thus far. For a peek at the next round of up-and-comers, check out the 2022 FACE™ announcement. These 55 athlete/coach pairs will receive $10,000 each to help them chase their dreams.

While you’re waiting for the excitement to begin, check out this interview with Catherine Gosselin-Després, the Executive Director of Sport for the Canadian Paralympic Committee. Catherine describes the substantial planning, organization and preparation that goes into ensuring that all the athletes’ accessibility and competition needs for the Games are met, including on-site equipment repairs, assisting devices and even prosthetics. It’s an impressive operation!

Go Team Canada! Over on our social media pages, we’re ready to help you root for our athletes. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to celebrate our FACE™ athletes’ successes, and cheer them on in the comments! Each time Team Canada wins a medal, we will be giving away three sets of our limited edition 2022 pins (one Olympic, one Paralympic and one Coaching Association of Canada pin, each featuring that adorable red panda!) on our Facebook page, so be sure to stay tuned.

Pin Giveaway

It’s easier than ever to access coverage of the Paralympic Games on CBC/Radio-Canada or CBC Gem online.  You can also follow the Canadian Paralympic Team’s Twitter account and Facebook Page for competition coverage.

Go get ‘em, team! You got this!

We’ll be rooting for each and every one of you.

-Paul D.

We’re Rooting for our FACE™ Athletes in Beijing!

One of my highlights of 2021 was watching the Canada vs Sweden Women’s Soccer Gold Medal Final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games. I may have been alone on my couch, but I felt connected to everyone across the country as we held our breath during that tense penalty kick-off, and cried out together with relief and elation at that final winning goal. What a rush! I felt so proud to be Canadian, and so proud of Team Canada. (I’m not gonna lie, there were some tears.) These days especially, the efforts of our athletes can bring us all together.

And now, only a few short months later, we get the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, starting February 4. I mean WINTER, right? That’s our SPECIALTY. Bring it on.

This year, 215 Canadian athletes and their coaches are making the journey to Beijing to compete with the world’s best in 14 different sports. For them, it’s the culmination of years of determination, hard work and sacrifice. A few of these athlete/coach pairs share their experience below:

If you follow us on Facebook and Instagram (and if you don’t - now is the time!) then you already know that we love cheering on Canadian athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Petro-Canada is a long-time sponsor of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) and the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC). Each year, through our Fuelling Athlete and Coaching Excellence (FACE™) program, 55 athletes and their coaches are selected to receive direct funding. These special grants come at a crucial time for athletes, when they’ve started training for the Olympic or Paralympic Games, but are not yet eligible for government funding. Since 1988, Petro-Canada has given over $12 million in financial support to 3,000+ Canadian athletes and coaches.

 This is a big year for the program, with 30 FACE™ athletes in 12 different sport disciplines competing in Beijing. We’re proud to see so many FACE™ alumni on the team!

If ordinary folks like me get so worked up during the Olympic Games (sitting on our couches, weeping with joy), I can’t imagine how the families of Canadian athletes must feel. Since 2010, Petro-Canada’s Canadian Athlete Family Program has supported the families of Team Canada by providing them with two complimentary tickets to their athlete’s event. This year, since they won’t be able to attend, we’re sending each family a limited edition cheer box. This specially designed box is filled with items to help show support, make a little noise from afar, and send positive vibes all the way to Beijing.

Petro-Canada Family Program Cheer Box

If you were following us for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games, then you saw some of the Team Canada families sharing stories and pictures of these cheer boxes - they were a huge hit! This time there are a few extra boxes to give away to lucky fans so stay tuned to our Facebook and Instagram for details. Also on our Facebook page, we’ll be giving away limited edition Petro-Canada Olympic or Paralympic pins each time a Team Canada athlete wins a medal.

Beijing Olympic Stickers

If you want to add a little Olympic spirit to your own social stories, you can download our Petro-Canada Giphy stickers! There’s a wavy foam finger, a “Go Canada” animation, and an awesome selection of “visual cheers”. They’re easy-to-use, fun, and will show our athletes that you’ve got their backs. You can find them here or search for “petrocanada” in the GIF toolbar of your favourite social app.

Bobsleigh Bolt Game

And for those in-between moments as you’re waiting for the next Canadian to compete, Petro-Canada and Team Canada have a special treat in store: a fast-paced mobile game called Bobsleigh Bolt! Download the Team Canada app to play (available on iOS or Android) and start bragging to your friends about your high score – plus, you’ll be able to win some great prizes.

Enjoy the Winter Games, everyone and good luck to our 30 FACE™ athletes and to all of Team Canada!

Like my fellow Canadians, I’ll be cheering from my couch: Go, Canada, Go! 

~Paul D.

Exploring a New City by Taking a Virtual Drive

The other day, when I was putting out the garbage and recycling for collection, I stopped to have a chat with my Saturn VUE, Chloe. “I know it’s been a while since we’ve been on a nice long drive, Clo. But soon. Soon we’ll take a long drive, maybe to the Okanagan. Stop at a few wineries. Explore some back roads. Put on our favourite tunes and roll down the windows. Soon it will be spring and hopefully stay-at-home orders will be lifted.”

She seemed to understand that trips to the grocery store are all that her immediate future holds and wasn’t too resentful.

So let’s not tell her that I stepped out on her a little.

I recently discovered the site, Drive and Listen. It uses dash cam and other city driving footage from YouTube and pairs it with the soundtrack of a local radio station. Currently there are 30+ cities on the site, and more are being added on a regular basis. I spent some time exploring places like Beijing, Delhi and Havana.

Drive and Listen - Beijing

Drive and Listen - Delhi

Drive and Listen - Havana

It certainly isn’t the same as actually being there, but it’s a nice way to scratch that wanderlust itch.

Bonus site: when you’re working from home and just want a new view out your window, try the site WindowSwap. People around the world upload videos of the view outside their window. I’ve enjoyed a lot of cool scenes from around the world, plus met some adorable pets that video bomb the window view. Check out these windows from Serbia, Maine and Istanbul.

WindowSwap - Serbia

WindowSwap - Maine

WindowSwap - Istanbul

Any particular city or town you’d like to take a virtual drive through? Or do any of the above capture your imagination? Let us know in the comments.

~ Kate T.