By Jason Small, Canadian Red Cross in Manitoba

Cailin Hodder and members of her Red Cross disaster management team have seen firsthand why being prepared to deal with disasters in the winter is so important.

Cailin, the provincial manager for disaster management in Manitoba, was travelling with some of her team members last winter in a rural part of the province during poor weather when they came across a vehicle that had already been stuck in a ditch for an hour.

While she and her team members were dressed for the meeting they were headed to, they had clothes and an emergency kit in their Red Cross vehicle.

“We had all brought the big winter boots with us and the big jackets. So, we all went, got dressed up and we started shovelling.”


For people who are driving in winter weather, Cailin suggested being prepared with gloves, winter boots, warm clothes, water and a shovel.

She pointed out that in the two hours her team was there getting the vehicle out of the ditch, only one car passed by, proving the need to be prepared in case there is nobody there to help out.

There are a number of other potential winter disasters people should also be prepared to face, according to Cailin. A power outage can quickly become an issue in the winter for any family.

“You need to make sure you have some kind of plan in your family,” she said. “The best thing to do, in that case, is have a preparedness kit. And it can be so simple.”

Cailin noted that some key items include flashlights, canned goods, granola bars, batteries and candles.
“I always have a stock of bottled water,” she said, noting that she makes sure to have other key items accessible at home. She also said that people should make the kit their own. In her family, having some board games so they can keep themselves entertained is important.

She noted that bottled water is also a good resource to have on hand in case your pipes freeze, which is another risk during the winter.

Ultimately, Cailin said there is no excuse for not being prepared to deal with the various problems that could arise in a Canadian winter.