Be prepared for severe winter weather !
Winter weather conditions in Ontario can become severe or dangerous very quickly, sometimes with little or no warning. During the winter months, Waterloo Region can experience storms, extreme cold, freezing rain, blizzards and heavy snowfall. These conditions can bring down power lines, cause power outages, black ice, block roads, and car accidents. Read about ways you can prepare yourself and your family for severe winter weather.
Are You Prepared?
Here are some things you can do to prepare for an emergency:
- Assemble an Emergency Survival Kit. Your goal should be self-sustenance for at least three days. Check the kit often and carry a similar pack in each family vehicle.
- Do not use the telephone unless absolutely necessary. Telephone capacity is stretched to the limit during major emergencies.
- Teach children how and when to call for help. All family members should be taught how to turn off gas, power and water supply.
- Learn First Aid and Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Courses are available in the community through the Red Cross and St. John Ambulance.
- Pre-determine a meeting place and message point for family members who are separated by the emergency. This may be a friend or family member in a nearby community.
- Keep your vehicle gas tank at least half full. In this way, you will be able to evacuate even if gas stations are closed.
- Emergencies can occur without warning. Don't wait to find out how unprepared you are. Think about it NOW.
Click on the television set to watch Emergency Management Ontario's Emergency Survival Kit Video
Tips on Preparing a Family Emergency Survival Kit
There are six basics you should stock in your home: water, food, first aid supplies, tools and supplies, clothing and bedding. Keep the items that you would most likely need during an evacuation in a waterproof backpack or dufflebag and make sure everyone knows where to find the family emergency survival kit.
Click on the following elements of the family Emergency survival kit to find out more.
Store at least a three-day supply of water for each member of your family.
- A normally active person needs to drink at least two litres of water each day, so store at least four litres per person per day to provide additional water for washing, etc.
- Children, nursing mothers and people who are ill will require more water.
- Never ration water. Drink the amount you need and try to find more for tommorrow.
- Minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity.
- Store your water in thoroughly washed plastic, glass, fibreglass or enamel-lined metal containers.
- Never use a container that has previously held toxic substances.
- Change your stored water supply every six months to ensure it says fresh.
During an emergency situation, if you have no water supply or have used your supply up, it may be necessary to purify water if you are unsure of its quality.
- Heating water to a rolling boil for one minute is an effective method of disinfecting water.
- Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring it back and forth between two containers
- Chlorination uses liquid cholrine bleach to kill micro-organisms. Add .018 ml (2 drops) of fragrance-free household bleach to 4½ litres (1 gallon) of water. Mix well and allow to stand at least one hour before drinking.
- Purification tablets release chlorine or iodine. They are fairly inexpensive and available at most sporting goods stores and some drugstores.
- Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
- Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water.
- Individuals with special diets and allergies will need particular attention as will babies, toddlers, nursing mothers and the elderly.
- Make sure you have a manual can opener and disposable utensils.
- Do not forget non-perishable food for your pets.
Tips for storing and using food properly during an emergency situation such as a power failure.
- Meat, dairy and frozen foods can be hazardous if not stored properly.
- Use perishable food and foods from the refigerator first.
- To minimize the number of times you open the freezer, post a list of freezer contents on the door.
- A freezer will keep food frozen for about two days. A half-full freezer will keep food frozen for one day.
- Keep the freezer door shut as much as possible.
Cooking if the power goes out
For emergency cooking, you can use a barbeque, a charcoal grill or camp stove, outdoors only. You can also heat food indoors using candle warmers, chafing dishes and fondue pots.
First Aid Supplies
Purchase or prepare a complete first aid kit and first aid manual. Add personal care items such as toothpaste and soap, and a supply of non-prescription drugs such as:
- Pain relievers (eg. acetaminophen)
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher)
- Epipen for allergic reations
*If you must leave your home in an emergency, don't forget to take prescrition drugs with you.
Tools and Supplies
The following are examples of the types of items you should consider adding to your Emergency Survival Kit:
- Paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, storage containers
- Battery-operated radio, flashlight and extra batteries
- Lantern and fuel, candles and waterproof matches
- Fire extinguisher
- Duct tape
- Pliers, hammer, nails, crowbar, wrench to shut-off household gas and water
- Compass, signal flares and a whistle
- Paper, pencil, needles, thread
- Plastic sheeting
- Map of your community (with list of shelters)
- Toilet paper, towelettes
- Soap, liquid detergent, unscented household chlorine bleach
- Plastic garbage bags, ties
- Plastic bucket with tight lid
- Mosquito Repellent
- Rope and shovel
- Pocket Knife or multi-tool
Clothing and Bedding
Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person:
- Sturdy shoes or work boots
- Rain gear
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Hat and gloves, scarves
- Thermal underwear
Keep important family records and documents in a waterproof, portable container:
- Health cards
- Bank account and credit card numbers, and a small amount of cash
- Photos of family members in case you are separated in an emergency
Preparing for those with Special Needs
Remember family members with special needs, such as infants and elderly or disabled persons. Include any relevant medications, denture needs, corrective lenses, hearing aids and batteries. For people with mobility problems, consider the need for the following:
- Extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen, medications, catheters, food for guide or service dogs, plus other special equipment you might need
- A list of individuals to contact in the event of an emergency
- A list of the style and serial numbers of medical devices, such as pacemakers
- Store back-up equipment such as a manual wheelchair, at a neighbour's home, school or workplace
- Keep the shut-off switch for oxygen equipment near your bed or chair so you can get to it quickly if there is a fire