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When it comes to severe winter weather, Ontario can go toe to toe with the heaviest hitters. From the deep subarctic chill of the polar vortex to the warming winds of El Nino, you just never know what Ontario may have in store from week to week, especially as global weather patterns continue to shift.
This is precisely why taking precautions against severe winter weather is so critical. Even professional weather forecasters are still learning and adapting to what is known about weather predictions today, and there are too many tragic stories each year about what happens when severe weather strikes the unprepared.
In this post, learn what you need to do now to prepare for the possible onset of severe winter weather.
Types of Severe Winter Weather
According to Canada's Get Prepared website, there are several types of severe weather that can wreak havoc across the Ontario region each winter.
These weather patterns include:
Blizzards. Snowfall and freezing rain can create tremendous danger in a matter of hours but may sometimes last for days. Just the weight of accumulated snow can pose a real threat to home and property.
Hailstorms. Hail can range in size from that of a peanut to a grapefruit. Some of the worst financial damage can occur from hail, which is particularly prevalent in the southern Ontario area.
Heavy rains. Heavy rainfall brings risk of flash floods, especially when the ground is frozen and the runoff cannot seep down under the soil surface.
Ice storms. The slippery surface of ice can turn every step into a potential hazard.
Thunder and lightning storms. Every year, lightning causes injuries, casualties, and property damage through fires.
High winds. Any wind above 60 km/h is dangerous enough to blow you off your feet or your car off the road.
All of the above can also cause dangerous and prolonged power outages and damage to property, including food sources and animals.
10 Steps to Take Now
The best way to prepare for the possibility of severe winter weather is to consider no weather pattern off-limits. In other words, even if hail (or high winds, or heavy snow) is not anticipated, plan as if it could be.
These 10 tips will help you wait out severe winter weather with no harm to yourself, your family, property, or health.
Tip #1: Secure all loose outdoor property indoors
You want to move it all indoors into a storage shed, garage, basement, or other indoor location. This goes for potted plants, lawn furniture, vehicles, garbage cans, sports equipment, smaller objects, and even the barbecue.
Tip #2: Build a shelter over your A/C unit
Hail, heavy snow, and ice can damage your A/C unit. Constructing a lean-to, canopy, or shelter over and/or around your A/C unit can keep it from harm.
Tip #3: Trim away all fragile or overhanging limbs
Tree limbs burdened by snow or ice can fall on top of your home or car and cause financial hardship and personal safety threats. Trim it all away as soon as the temperatures begin to drop.
Tip #4: Assemble an emergency food, health, and contact kit
Your emergency kit should include emergency provisions (food, water, water purification tablets), emergency first aid supplies ,and a laminated list of emergency contacts. Be sure to include supplies for younger family members and pets.
Tip #5: Make preparations for pets and livestock
Think through how you will get provisions to livestock or pets who are housed separately from you and your family. Potable water and heat can be particular safety concerns.
Tip #6: Secure your home (especially ground-floor and basement levels) against flooding
If you anticipate flooding from runoff or heavy storms, be sure your drainage system and nearby catch basin are clear of leaves and debris, and direct runoff away from your property. Install sump pumps if possible and necessary, and be aware of where and how your home sanitation drainage system works. Seal up any cracks and place valuables stored in the basement high off the floor.
Tip #7: Bring in a backup power source just in case
A portable emergency generator plus a battery-operated radio and fully charged mobile makes a good start for backup emergency power. Also unplug all non-essential appliances and accessories before the storm hits to avoid damaging surges.
Tip #8: Set up an evacuation plan and practice it
Your whole family should know what the plan is should you be required to evacuate during severe winter weather. You should know where to go and what to do if you get separated. You should also bookmark local and national weather emergency channels to tune into so you know about last-minute evacuation options.
Tip #9: Gather plenty of warm clothes and blankets
When severe weather is impending or upon you, the safest place to gather is in the central parts of the home. This will also be the warmest place to wait out severe weather. Be sure to have blankets, sleeping bags, warm clothes, socks, hats, gloves, and shoes on hand just in case of a power outage. In case of a power outage and you can use a woodstove or fireplace for heat, it is crucial that your chimney be cleaned before use, so there is no danger of carbon monoxide poisoning or chimney fires. Use clean, dry wood to prevent smoke.
Tip #10: Take a basic first aid course
Finally, all your emergency preparedness will be only as good as the knowledge you have to use it. Whether you take a course or buy a book, be sure you have a way to access information on performing basic first aid procedures should it become necessary to care for yourself or a family member (human or animal) during extended severe winter weather.
Having your HVAC system inspected now can keep you warm when you need it most. Contact us to schedule your inspection today!