4 entries categorized "Safety"

Anticipation and Practice: Emergency Preparedness Week

Today is May the 4th, also known colloquially on social media as “Star Wars Day” (May the Fourth… be with you. Get it?). While I am tempted to post a super-cute picture of my dog in an Ewok costume and call it a day, next week (May 7-13, 2023) also happens to be Emergency Preparedness Week in Canada. So I find myself thinking about the fate of the Death Star (first iteration). Still seems like a big oversight that Luke was able to take it down with one shot. Where was the emergency planning in that?

The Death Star’s Health and Safety team would have benefited from this year’s theme: Be Prepared. Know Your Risks. It’s intended to encourage Canadians to understand the risks in their area and learn what actions they can take to protect themselves and their families.

To give us a solid perspective on safety at Petro-Canada, we connected with Stasy Presutto, Manager of Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) at Suncor, the proud owner of Petro-Canada. Stasy supports the Sales and Marketing operations at Petro-Canada as well as their integration into the broader Downstream business. He’s been in this role for a little over 7 years.

Anticipation and Practice: Emergency Preparedness Week

PT: Stasy, thank you for talking to me today. Emergency Preparedness Week starts next week and the theme this year is “Be Prepared. Know Your Risks.” How does this theme fit into what you do for Petro-Canada?

SP: My job is both proactive and reactive. Obviously, if a health and safety incident occurs, we’re there to provide support in a reactive way. But we try to focus on being proactive – dealing with incidents that could occur but haven’t yet, so that we’re all better prepared. We work on identifying risks, and then developing the plans we need to put in place. It’s a great fit – the more we can identify potential risks and plan for handling them, ultimately the better prepared we’ll be.

PT: How do you build emergency preparedness on your team and with sites in the field?

SP: What I do falls into two key areas: “Practice makes perfect” and “Anticipation”.

First, “Practice makes perfect”. We know from research that in the event of an emergency, stress causes people to react ineffectively. We want to regularly practice what we do in different emergency situations so that it’s second nature. By having regular drills – at all levels: retail sites, wholesale sites and head office – we know how to protect people (guests, employees and contractors), the environment and our assets. The more prepared you are, the better you will respond in a crisis.

These drills are around what could happen on a site and how would we respond. And I try to encourage a continual learning environment. Health & Safety isn’t a “one and done” thing, it’s an important value we need to live every day. After drills, I make sure to connect with each member of the team to ask, “What did you learn and how would you improve?” We’re always learning and, no matter how many drills we conduct, we always come up with ways to improve.

PT: Then what about “Anticipation?”

SP: This is about encouraging a mindset of proactive thinking, about being aware of hazards that exist or situations that may come up and how to deal with them. For example, we ask our site operators, “What would you do if you had a spill of gasoline at this site? How would you respond?”

And this mindset extends to head office as well. It’s why we have a Safety Moment at the start of each meeting. You don’t want to turn a safety mindset on and off – it needs to be present in everything we do.

PT: How would this safety mindset extend to your personal life? How can readers be more prepared?

SP: Here’s an example… I recently drove to Panorama for a skiing trip. Panorama’s pretty remote and there’s an area on Highway 93 where there’s no cell service for about 100 km. So I asked my passengers, what would you do if the car breaks down at the 50km mark of this stretch of highway? The responses include blank stares and “I have no idea.” So, I start running through different scenarios and make sure I have what I need. Ask yourself “How prepared would I be if…” That’s what I do. What happens if my car breaks down? What happens if one of my kids goes into medical distress?” “What if there is a storm?” I can’t call for help as there is no cell service.

Then, based on all these scenarios, I develop plans. I made sure my car is well serviced with a full tank of gas. I checked the weather forecast. I planned to drive in daylight hours. I looked through my car’s emergency kit, saw that I didn’t have any water and added a few bottles. It’s all about considering your environment and being proactive.

PT: Any final thoughts?

SP: We can lose our common sense in an emergency. Thinking through and practicing your response in emergency situations makes it second nature. We can’t control the environment, but we can control our response. It’s all about being proactive and aware of the risks in a given situation. Seconds and moments do matter. Our lives may depend on it.


Thanks, Stasy! Emergency Preparedness Week is a great opportunity to talk to your family about your emergency plan. Check out the government of Canada’s Get Prepared site for a list of resources on how to prepare for emergencies. There is also a list of province-specific emergency management organizations (EMOs); these EMOs can provide more specific information about natural hazards and other region-specific risks, such as tsunami preparedness in British Columbia or managing your farm animals and livestock in an emergency in Alberta.

Where are you in your emergency preparedness journey? Have you worked through any potential scenarios with your family or co-workers? We’d love to hear how your emergency practice makes perfect! Leave us a note in the comments. And stay safe out there.

Get Up in Your Grill (and Clean It!)

When it comes to spring cleaning, I’m a little… lazy (there, I said it). I’m more likely to do the bare minimum than any sort of deep dive. I know the outdoor grill has been sitting there, unused, ALL WINTER, but do I really need to clean it before firing it back up again?  It’s all heat and flame, the dirt and bad stuff just burns away! And what doesn’t burn away only adds to the flavour! Right?

If you are an outdoor cuisine aficionado, or a safety-conscious grown-up, you may be shaking your head sadly at me. That’s because you already know what I learned recently: a proper spring cleaning and inspection is essential for keeping safe, preserving taste, and protecting the life of your grill.

Father and son grilling over an outdoor barbeque

If you’re new to BBQing (or, like me, new to cleaning one), the best place to start is by consulting the care and maintenance section of your manufacturer’s manual for how to clean your particular model.

Be warned: cleaning your grill can get messy. Try and set aside a dedicated time that’s not an hour before the backyard birthday party you’re hosting (when you’ve already changed into your good shorts). Get all the supplies on hand before you start. Laying down a drop cloth or tarp over your nice deck isn’t a bad idea either.

Depending on your grill, you’ll need:

  • A scraper - preferably one of those solid wood ones designed especially for BBQ grates - metal bristle brushes can cause serious health issues!
  • A big bucket of warm and soapy water (dish soap), and some clean water for rinsing (or a nearby hose)
  • Something for washing down your grates, like a tough sponge or sturdy brush
  • Another scraping tool like a spatula (for the grill’s interior) and something to scoop out debris
  • A paperclip or small tool
  • Cleaning product for stainless steel
  • Some clean, dry rags or paper towel
  • A hand-held vacuum or hose attachment
  • Vegetable oil or shortening to season your grates

The areas you want to cover in your cleaning are:

Grates: Scrape any build-up off the tops with your scraping tool, and check the undersides for grease deposits. Lift them out and soak them in the bucket of soapy water then scrub them down. (If they are the porcelain-coated kind, don’t soak, just wash and dry). Rinse and wipe the grates down, and put them aside to dry completely. 

While your grates are drying, you can move onto the:

Burners (gas grills): Follow your manufacturer’s instructions for the removal and reattachment of the burners and heat tents. Scrape off any junk and debris and give them a once over to make sure no burner holes are clogged - you can use a paper clip or small tool to clear them. If your grill doesn’t have a spider guard (many older grills do not), you can clean the burners and burner tubes with a venturi pipe brush or wire.

Interior: While your burners are removed, scrape down the sides and bottom of your grill, scoop out any debris, and wipe down the inside of the lid. Empty the ash catcher (charcoal grills) and your grill’s catch pans. Wash them out in soapy water and replace the aluminum foil if you’ve lined your catchers. A quick vacuum will clear out any spider webs or dried leaves in and around your grill and the connection to your propane tank.

Once your grates are completely dry, rub them down with a little bit of vegetable oil or shortening and place them back in.

Exterior: For stainless steel exteriors, use a dedicated stainless-steel cleaner and sponge to get the best, gleaming result. Use soapy water on the side surfaces, and anywhere else, and dry completely with clean rags.

Inspect your fuel hose and connections for rot, kinks or leaks, and tighten any loose bolts in and around your grill. Check the ignition wires and batteries (if you have an electric ignition). Fire up your grill, one burner at a time, and make sure it’s all running smoothly (or light it up and let it burn for 10 minutes or so before putting any food on).

Once your grill is clean and ready for action, be sure you’ve got enough fuel for the next long weekend! Stock up with an extra 16lb/8kg tank at your local Petro-Canada and avoid that mid-cookout panic when you run out of propane. You can easily exchange your empty tank for a full, certified propane tank, or buy a new one at one of our locations. And for folks who are Petro-Points members (and if you’re not, why not?), you can get 3x the Petro-Points when you exchange or purchase a propane tank at any participating Petro-Canada location – offer ends August 8, 2022.

For further advice on grill safety and maintenance, including how to use soapy water to check your tubes and connections for leaks, check out these guidelines.

Steaks? Corn on the cob? Hot dogs? Veggie kabobs? What are you most looking forward to throwing on your outdoor grill? Let us know in the comments section and have a great grilling season!

~  Paul D.

May is Motorcycle Safety Month: Let’s Watch Out for Each Other

Ah, the sounds of spring: birds singing… and engines revving. 

There is nothing like that feeling of hitting the open road in the springtime. Windows down and music playing, it’s a good time to be driving. I live on a main street, and at this time of year certain car owners gleefully make their presence known. After a long winter of being bundled up, and careful driving through wintery conditions, the temptation to “let her rip'' is hard to resist.

For Canadian motorcyclists, spring has a whole other significance. It’s when many of them get their bikes back out on the road.  I can only imagine how exhilarating that first ride of the season must be. For the rest of us motorists, it can be a bit of a surprise after not seeing them for months, and suddenly a motorcycle appears in our side or rear view mirror (is that a car with a burnt out headlight behind me?). It’s fitting then, that May is Motorcycle Safety Month in Canada and the US.

Motorcycle Safety Month - Watch Out for Each Other

Once again, this year’s campaign by the Motorcycle Confederation of Canada is to Watch Out for Each Other, encouraging motorists to be on the look out for motorcyclists, and motorcyclists to return the favour. That way, we can all stay safe! For motorists looking to do our part, here’s some tips to consider:

  • Check your mirrors and blind spots for motorcyclists, and be sure to signal before changing lanes.
  • Motorcyclists are entitled to a full lane, just like any other vehicle. Don’t crowd them or try to share a lane with them on the road or at intersections.
  • Motorcycles often aren’t equipped with self-cancelling turn signals, and riders sometimes forget to turn them off, so make sure that bike is actually turning before you make a move.
  • Allow more follow distance when behind a motorcycle, to allow more time and space to react in the case of an emergency stop (for both of you!)

And for our motorcyclist friends:

So let’s watch out for each other! With a little extra care we can make sure we’re all enjoying being on the road this season, and all year long.

Wishing motorcyclists and motorists across the country a happy spring and safe driving!

~  Paul D.

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.