Every year, many parts of Canada are exposed to blizzards, heavy snowfall and ice storms. While we can’t stop Mother Nature, we can help you take preventative measures to protect what matters most should you encounter a winter storm this season.
Pre-storm preparation for your home
Here are a few precautions you can take both inside and outside your home to minimize the damage of any winter storms that come your way:
Inside your home:
- Seal cracks around windows and doors. You can seal small cracks with caulk. Larger cracks require insulating foam, which expands to fill gaps.
- Replace damaged weather stripping around doors, and install door sweeps under exterior doors to prevent cold air from seeping in.
- Wrap exposed pipes in your home with foam insulation to minimize the risk of pipes freezing and bursting.
- Place protective film over windows or install impact-resistant glass to minimize the risk of window breakage during a storm. Storm shutters can also be installed as an added precaution.
Outside your home:
- Clear exterior gutters, drains and downspouts to prevent blockages and ice buildup. Keeping these systems from being blocked can decrease the chances of water entering your home through the roof or walls.
- Keep trees on your property well maintained and prune branches that may break off during a storm.
- If you are unable to park your car in a garage, avoid parking underneath trees or power lines or at the bottom of a slope where snow or water can run down.
Every member of your household should be aware of what to do in an emergency. Your plan should include an emergency meeting place and you should ensure everyone is aware of escape and evacuation routes from your home.
Be familiar with where the local evacuation centre is located. Public Safety Canada provides an online tool for creating personalized family emergency plans.
You should also create an emergency kit with essential items that can sustain your household for a minimum of 72 hours.
The Canadian Red Cross has additional details on recommended emergency kit items and has emergency kits available to be ordered online.
We also recommend you store important documents such as birth certificates, passports and legal documents such as insurance policies in a water proof container and keep this container in an easy to find location.
Additionally, it is an excellent idea to keep a record of the items in your home. Documenting your household belongings in a home inventory checklist will make things a lot easier should you ever have to file a claim after a storm.
Be in the know
Alert Ready allows government agencies to issue public-safety messages across all television and radio networks across Canada.
This public service emergency system provides immediate warnings on extreme weather, natural disasters, biohazards, terrorist threats and any other types of life-threatening local events.
What to do when a storm hits
When a storm is going to hit, you should secure all outdoor items to prevent them from being blown around. This may include garbage and recycling containers and lawn furniture. These items can be taken inside your home or tied down outside with rope or bungee cords.
If you are advised by officials to evacuate your area, you should do so as soon as possible and take your emergency kit with you. Otherwise, stay indoors until your local media has stated it is safe to come out.
Power outages and electronics
Many people rely on their mobile phones. What if there was a power outage during a storm and you were unable to charge your phone? There are a number of mobile phone charging devices that could come in handy in these situations.
For example, “juice packs”, and battery-powered backup chargers are devices you can connect to your mobile phone to recharge its power. Many alarm clocks have mobile phone docking stations attached that have battery backup power capabilities.
Despite these phone charging devices, we recommend having a battery-powered radio in your emergency kit, so you can stay up-to-date on the status of a winter storm should your electronic devices be unavailable.
Heating your home
If you must heat your home during a power outage, be very cautious. While there are a few devices you can use such as wood-burning stoves and space heaters, you must follow the safety instructions closely.
Never refuel heaters indoors or when hot. If you choose to use a backup generator, you should never run the generator indoors, including inside garages, as generator exhaust contains high levels of carbon monoxide. We advise you to have a battery powered carbon monoxide detector in your home.
As part of your emergency preparation, we also recommend contacting your BrokerLink broker to ensure you are familiar with the coverage your home and auto insurance policies provide should you be faced with a winter storm. Taking a few proactive measures during the winter storm season can pay off.