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The 2014 winter has been uncommonly cold and snowy, resulting in a higher risk of spring flooding. This has been one of the coldest winters in the last 40 years. We did not get much of a “January thaw” in 2014; as a result, the snow has built up throughout the winter and is well above the long-term average.
As a result there is a very high potential for flooding this spring during the spring thaw as 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.
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.
Know Your Winter Storm and Extreme Cold Terms
Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a winter storm hazard:
Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees, and power lines.
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.
Below freezing temperatures are expected.
Before Winter Storms and Extreme Cold
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 and small broom
- battery powered radio
- extra batteries
- snack food
- extra hats, socks and mittens
- First aid kit with pocket knife
- necessary medications
- 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.