Great for humans, not great for homes: Sudden rise in winter temperature increases flooding risk

With recent extreme cold weather, it is very natural to feel a sense of relief when you see temperatures rising.

Some provinces are still experiencing extreme cold weather - B.C. and Alberta’s forecast is for the coldest weather of the season, according to the Weather Network - but, in eastern provinces such as Ontario and Quebec, temperatures climbed an average of 25 degrees. Great for our human bodies not meant to be in -20 degree temperature for more than 10 minutes without risking frostbite, but not so great for other risks such as flooding and ice strength.
Know what to do before, during and after a flood

What to do in case of flooding

This type of temperature hike with previous heavy snowfall increases the risk of flooding in your home and you should be prepared. Flooding is the most frequent natural disaster in Canada; so here’s what to do to prepare your home in case of flooding, as well as what to do in case a flooding does occur.

  • The key to staying safe is to prepare and to have an emergency plan in place.
  • Know the flood risk in your community by calling your municipality and insurance company.
  • Know and practice evacuation routes.
  • Monitor local weather and alerts
  • Protect your valuables in waterproof containers. Place them above potential water levels. 
  • Put sealant around basement windows and the base of ground-level doors.
  • Raise large appliances in the basement above the potential water level from a flood.
  • Make sure your sump pump is working and install a battery-operated backup. 
  • Talk with your family and neighbours about what you would do during a flood.

Consult the Canadian Red Cross Guide To Flood Recovery for step-by-step instructions. Continue to take precautions and listen to and follow directions from local authorities.
  • Be alert for further instructions from officials and community leaders - listen to the radio, watch your local news channels, and/or follow your local news outlet and/or emergency officials on social media.
  • Contact your insurance company and let them know what happened. They will want to know a record of damage to your home and belongings and may request photos or video. 
  • Maintain good hygiene during flood cleanup by minimizing contact with floodwater or anything that may have come in contact with it. 
  • Wear protective clothing, including rubber boots or sturdy boots, safety glasses, hard hat, rubber gloves and a dust mask. 
  • Discard any food items which may have been in contact with flood waters. When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Do not use any appliances, heating, pressure, or sewage system until electrical components are dry and have been inspected by a qualified electrician.
  • Check with local authorities or community leaders on how to properly dispose of damaged items from your home.
Find out more on Floods: Information and & Facts

Be clear on ice safety

Temperature fluctuations in winter affect ice thickness and safetyChanging air temperatures also affect ice thickness. While it is fun to skate on frozen ponds, be aware of ice stability prior to stepping on it.

The colour of ice may be an indication of its strength. Clear blue ice is strongest. White opaque or snow ice is half as strong as blue ice. Opaque ice is formed by wet snow freezing on the ice. Grey ice is unsafe. The grayness indicates the presence of water.

Did you know?

Ice thickness should be:
  • 15 cm for walking or skating alone
  • 20 cm for skating parties or games
  • 25 cm for snowmobiles.
Check with local authorities before heading out. Avoid going out on ice at night.
Learn more about ice safety.

For more tips on being ready for emergencies, visit

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