Winter Storms: Before, During & After

Trees covered with ice line a highway during the winterAcross Canada, winter storms or extreme cold can occur suddenly and last for multiple days. The best way to protect yourself and your family is to follow these steps:

  • Have your emergency kit ready. Be prepared for power outages.
  • Carbon monoxide kills: NEVER use a generator, BBQ, propane inside an enclosed area.
  • Follow official instructions during snow removal and clean up.

Before 

  • Find out if you live in an area where winter storms could happen by contacting your municipality. You can also find up-to-date information on severe storm conditions, storm maps, weather warnings and public weather alerts at Environment Canada
  • Listen to local news and weather reports for information on changing weather conditions.
  • Winterize your home by insulating walls and attics; caulking and weather stripping doors and windows; and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
  • Winterize your home and car emergency kit with warm clothing and blankets. Buy rock salt and sand to melt ice and improve traction.
  • Make sure you have shovels and snow removal equipment handy.
  • Have an alternative heat source, such as a fireplace, wood burning stove, or a generator, so you are able to keep one room in your home warm and liveable.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on-hand and make sure your family knows how to use them.
  • Talk with your family about what you would do during a winter weather-related emergency, at home or in the car. 
  • Prepare your vehicle for winter weather and create an emergency kit for your vehicle. Keep the gas tank full. Always check local weather conditions before heading out on the road. 
  • Install snow fences in rural areas to reduce drifting snow on roads and paths, which could block access to homes, barns, and animals’ feed and water. 
  • Be prepared for secondary hazards such as power outage and flooding once snow melts.

During

  • When a severe storm is expected, Environment Canada will issue a weather warning through the Weather Office website, automated telephone information lines and its Weatheradio service. Radio and television stations will also broadcast Environment Canada weather statements. Pay attention to that information. 
  • During the storm, avoid going outside or unnecessary travel. If you have to go outside, dress appropriately to protect yourself from the elements. Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. 
  • Use the “buddy” system if you can - bring someone outside with you. 
  • Bring companion animals indoors. Create a place where other animals can be comfortable in severe winter weather. 
  • Do not overexert yourself or work outside for extended periods of time. 

After

Continue to take precautions and listen to and follow directions from local authorities.
  • Avoid travelling if possible and listen to local news and weather reports for current road and weather conditions. 
  • Be aware of the wind chill. Avoid unnecessary exposure of any part of the body to the cold. 
  • If you have to go outside, dress appropriately, and watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. 
  • Be careful when clearing snow. Take your time and avoid overexertion. Take regular breaks to warm up and rest if needed.

After a Disaster

Recovering after a disaster can be overwhelming. Check out what resources the Red Cross has to offer.

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Get an Emergency Kit

Getting or making a kit is the final step in being ready for any emergency. Find out what you need to put in it.

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