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Seasonal Emergency Tips

It's important to be prepared for seasonal weather-related emergencies year-round. Stay safe! Take the time to review the below tips for spring, summer, and winter preparation.

Spring Flooding Tips

If there is not a significant thaw in the early months of the year, the built-up snow can result in a high potential for flooding in the spring: during the spring thaw, all of this water must make its way down the river systems. Make sure you and your family are prepared. Check out the Ministry of Natural Resources' Flood brochure or visit the MNR website for tips on how to prepare for a flood.

Severe Summer Weather Tips

Keep an eye on the weather

Every morning before leaving you leave the house check the weather report for the day.  If the forecast indicates the possibility of foul weather check the weather reports throughout the day and watch the sky for signs that a storm may be coming and take appropriate action if you feel threatened.  In the end, you are responsible for your own safety.

Monitor the local media

Listen to local radio and television and monitor local internet and social media sites for information and advice.  Environment Canada will issue severe thunderstorm or tornado watches and warnings if heavy rain, high winds, tormadoes or large hail are possible or expected or happening. A watch is a heads up that conditions are favourable for severe weather and there may be several hours to prepare. A warning is an alert when severe weather is imminent or occurring and that it is time to take shelter and put into action your safety plan.

Listen to Weatheradio

Weatheradio provides continuous information about current weather conditions, forecasts and alerts directly from Environment Canada's storm prediction centre. To get this service you need a special radio receiver which can be found at most electronic stores.  In the Barrie area tune the radio to 152.475 or 162.400 or 162.550. During threatening weather, keep it in the "alert" mode. 

Have a plan

Don't be unprepared; make sure you have a plan and know in advance what to do if severe weather strikes. Choose a shelter or meeting place in the event you get separated.

Shelter

Look for safe places at the cottage or campground well before strong winds or tornadoes threaten.  Make sure your family is aware of them.If no substantial shelter is available, leave trailers and lie in a low sheltered spot away from large trees, but be aware of flooding.  As a last resort, take shelter in a grove of small low trees.

Thunder & Lightning

When you hear thunder, immediately take shelter; and remain sheltered for 30 minutes after you hear the last rumble of thunder. Stay away from fences and open areas such as golf courses and fields when lightening is in the area.  Avoid being near tall objects such as trees, hilltops and telephone poles.  Don't use metal objects such as golf clubs or fishing rods. Get out of the water and off small boats. Stop tractor work and lift metal equipment out of the ground. Related link: Severe Storms Information

Tornadoes

Tornadoes are relatively common in Canada, but only in specific regions: southern Alberta; Manitoba and Saskatchewan; southern Ontario; southern Quebec; the interior of British Columbia; and western New Brunswick. Tornado season extends from April to September with peak months in June and July, but they can occur at any time of year. Related link: Tornado Information.

Winter Weather Tips

Add supplies to your disaster supplies kit

Add the following supplies to your disaster supplies kit:

  • Rock salt to melt ice on walkways
  • Sand to improve traction
  • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment
Prepare your home and family
  • Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off. For example, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
  • Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
  • Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbours, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  • Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbours or employees.
  • Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow - or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
Prepare your car
  • Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
  • Antifreeze levels: ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
  • Battery and ignition system: should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
  • Brakes: check for wear and fluid levels.
  • Exhaust system: check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
  • Fuel and air filters: replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas.
  • Heater and defroster: ensure they work properly.
  • Lights and flashing hazard lights: check for serviceability.
  • Oil: check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
  • Thermostat: ensure it works properly.
  • Windshield wiper equipment: repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
  • Install good winter tires. Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
  • Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.         
  • Place a winter emergency kit in each car that includes:
    • a shovel
    • windshield scraper & small broom
    • flashlight
    • battery powered radio
    • extra batteries
    • water
    • snack food
    • matches
    • extra hats, socks & mittens
    • First aid kit with pocket knife
    • necessary medications
    • blanket(s)
    • tow chain or rope
    • road salt and sand
    • booster cables
    • emergency flares
    • fluorescent distress flag 
Dress for the weather

Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves. Wear a hat. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.

Environment Canada monitors the weather 365 days a year and issues special weather statements, watches, and warnings by radio, television, internet and their Weather radio. Weather radio is broadcast at 162.400 and 162.475 megahertz and is picked up by dedicated radios and shortwave.

Winter Weather Terms (Environment Canada)
Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a winter storm hazard
Freezing Rain Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees, and power lines.
Sleet  Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
Winter Storm Watch A winter storm is possible in your area. Tune in to Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for more information
Winter Storm Warning A winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area.
Frost/Freeze Warning Below freezing temperatures are expected.

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