Our Mission



“To make the communities in St. Thomas-Elgin the safest place to live, work and play in Canada”

Giant Hogweed and Other Seasonal Hazards

Most people know about poison ivy, but there is a new, much more poisonous plant invading Ontario’s outdoors and putting workers at risk. It’s called giant hogweed. Use this article as a safety talk to inform your workers about the hazards.

Who’s at risk

Outdoor workers in southern Ontario can encounter giant hogweed near roadsides, streams, vacant lots, and waste areas.

What it looks like

Giant hogweed is a tall plant that grows up to an astonishing five metres high. Small whisker-like hairs and reddish-purple spots cover its stem. From June to August, it produces a white flower that resembles an umbrella and can stretch one metre wide.

How it can it hurt you

Various parts of the plant, including stems and leaves, release a clear watery sap that is extremely toxic:

  • skin contact with the sap in the presence of UV light (such as sunlight) can cause swelling, itching, and blistering that lasts for months. Some people then become sensitive to UV light and experience a skin-color change that can last for years
  • if the sap gets into your eyes, it can cause permanent blindness.

How to control the hazard

Employers and supervisors: Before work starts, notify workers about giant hogweed in the area and how it can hurt them.

Workers and others:

  • Never touch or brush up against the plant with bare skin.
  • If you must work near the plant, cover all body parts using impermeable coveralls, gloves, and a face shield to protect the eyes and face.
  • Avoid using power tools near the plant because breaking or crushing the stem or leaves can release the toxic sap.
  • The only person that should remove a plant is someone who knows
  • the hazards
  • what controls will prevent contact
  • how to prevent dispersal of the plant (seeds scattering and later growing into full-grown plants).

What to do if you’re exposed

  • Wash the affected area immediately with soap and water.
  • Stay out of sunlight and cover up exposed areas.
  • Get medical attention immediately.

SAFE(Smoke Alarms for Every) Baby

The St. Thomas Fire Department with the support of St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital and all Elgin County fire departments are launching a new smoke alarm initiative: SAFE (Smoke Alarms For Every) Baby. The goal is to provide a fire safe environment for all newborns in Elgin County. A letter will be included in the new baby package mothers receive, inviting them to call their local fire department and they will receive a free fire safety audit and smoke alarm.

As a bonus on a baby’s first birthday, they will replace your smoke alarm batteries free of charge.

To arrange a free fire safety audit, please call your local fire department below.

St. Thomas 519-631-0210
Aylmer 519-773-3164
Bayham 519-866-5521
Central Elgin 519-631-4860 x 249
Dutton / Dunwich 519-762-2008
Malahide 519-773-5344
Southwold 519-769-2010
West Elgin / Rodney 519-785-0771
West Elgin / West Lorne 519-785-0560

Save a Friend

Know of someone who does NOT wear a seat belt? Save a Friend has 15 graphic videos that show what can happen when someone does not wear their seat belt. These powerful videos may not be suitable for all audiences as some may be disturbing to young children and some adults. They will make you think about the consequences of not buckling up.

On-line Safety Training

To comply with current Occupational Health and Safety regulations in Ontario, employers must provide workers with many types of safety training. To support safe workplaces and employees working safely, Safe Communities Canada has developed on-line safety training packages found in the section “Safe Communities Campus”. The Safe Communities Campusprovides recognized on-line Occupational Health and Safety training that meets established safety standards. When your company purchases this safety training your company can support your local Safe Community by directing a portion of the course fees to the St. Thomas Elgin Safe Communities Committee . These funds will be used to provide safety initiatives, for example bike rodeos for youth. With your support, we can make St. Thomas and Elgin the safest communities in which to live, learn, work and play.

Community Partners

Elgin-St.Thomas Public Health St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce St.Thomas Fire Department St.Thomas Elgin General Hospital St.Thomas Police Department