How to prepare for an emergency
With heavy rain, strong winds and the potential for heavy snow in some areas, and the dangers of flooding and power-outages that come with them, there are ways to prepare yourself, your home and your neighbourhood. These steps will get you ready to face even the worst-case scenario.
Before the storm:
- Make sure you have ample drinking water. Fill pots, tubs or jugs with water from your tap, or buy bottled water
- Make sure you have plenty of food that does not require refrigeration and that can be safely eaten without cooking it
- Assemble a basic emergency kit
- Check that flashlights and other battery-operated devices (such as a radio) have fresh batteries
- Have cash on-hand, as bank machines and interac will not be working in a blackout
- Make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas
- If you live in a house:
- Tie down or remove loose items from your lawn and yard that may be blown around by the strong winds
- Clear leaves and debris from your rain gutters, to help your home's built-in defenses keep it safe from water damage
- Rake the leaves from your yard, and clear any leaves and debris from street gutters in front of your property, to keep rainwater drainage systems as clear as possible
- If possible, cut down any dead branches or trees around your house, to reduce the chance of damage to your home or power-outages due to downed power lines
- If you live in an apartment building:
- Be aware that winds at the top of a high-rise building can be significantly stronger than winds on the ground
- Bring any items from your balcony inside, or tie them down to prevent them from being blow around.
During the storm:
- Stay indoors as much as possible
- Stay alert for warnings
- Watch out for your neighbours, so that you may help them in an emergency; we are all safer when we are all looking out for one another
- If you live in an apartment building, use the elevator as little as possible, as you never know when the power may go out
- If the power do goes out:
- Do not use candles for light as they may cause a fire
- Turn off all electronics and appliances
- Turn off all lights except one — so that you will know when the power comes back on
- Food in the refrigerator will last for roughly 24 hours (about six hours for dairy products), and food in the freezer will last for 24 hours if it is partially full, or up to 48 hours if it is completely full; each time you open the refrigerator or freezer door, this time will be reduced
- Manage your food and water supplies, but do not ration water — drink when you are thirsty to avoid dehydration.
If you absolutely must go out during the storm, use the utmost care possible.
- Watch out for flying debris and downed power lines
- Do not walk or drive through standing water, as the water may be far deeper than it looks, and any underlying current in the water may pull you or your vehicle along with it. Find an alternative route
- If there are absolutely no reasonable alternatives but to use a flooded road, try to stick to the highest part of the road (and thus the most shallow water) and if you are driving, be aware of the following hazards:
- The road may collapse or be washed away due to the water, or the combined weight of the water and your vehicle
- As little as 10 cm of water can seriously affect the maneuverability of the average car, and deeper water may potentially cause your vehicle to stall, cause your wheels to lose contact with the road, or both
- Driving too quickly will cause a surge of water in front of your vehicle that could increase the potential of stalling or losing contact with the road
- Driving past oncoming traffic, even slowly, may cause a similar surge of water, with similar consequences
- If your vehicle does stall, restarting it immediately could cause irreparable damage to your engine
- If your vehicle does become stranded in high water, you will need to abandon it immediately for higher ground or if you cannot do so safely, risk restarting it to escape the rising water
- If your vehicle's wheels do lose contact with the ground, it could be carried along in the current
- Once you are safely out of the water, your brakes will be wet and thus will not be as effective. Slowly depressing them several times will help them to dry out.
With heavy snow possible in some areas, further preparations may be needed (such as putting aside more food and water, and possibly having a generator to supply power for heating), as any power-outages experienced in those areas may take longer for emergency crews to repair.
More information on being prepared can be found at the Government of Canada's website.