Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

Winter storms can happen on the North Shore. These events may result in power outages, fallen trees, blocked roads, icy conditions and extremely cold temperatures. It is important to be prepared for winter weather before it strikes.

The most important life saving tip during extreme cold is to seek warm shelter immediately. If you must go out in the extreme cold, please check weather conditions at Environment Canada - Public Weather Warnings for alerts on the North Shore, and dress appropriately.

 

Before the Storm

Have a home emergency kit with essential supplies so you can stay safe and comfortable in your home and not have to venture out for supplies. Considering adding the following items:

  • Rock salt or more environmentally safe product to melt ice on walkways and driveways.
  • Sand to improve traction
  • Snow shovels

Consider winterizing your home by insulating walls and attics, caulking, weather stripping doors and windows and insulating pipes.

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).

Monitor local media for severe weather warnings. Environment Canada lists public weather warnings for British Columbia.

Winterize your car. Get your vehicle ready for winter and learn how to stay in control while skidding. Transport Canada has tips for safe winter driving.

Have a vehicle emergency kit so you are prepared if you encounter problems while driving.

Have the BC Hydro number ready to report an outage 1-888-POWERON (1 888 769 3766), or *HYDRO (*49376) on your cellphone.

 

During a Winter Storm

During the storm 

If possible stay indoors. If the power is out, keep warm by layering clothes-cover head, hands and feet .Close off all rooms not in use. NEVER use gas ranges or propane heaters for indoor heating or cooking. Carbon monoxide gas can build up and cause suffocation.

Contact BC Hydro to report a power outage at 1-888-POWERON (1 888 769 3766), or *HYDRO (*49376) on your cellphone. You can also access outage information at www.bchydro.com/outages.

 If you see lines or poles down, or see any sparks, flames or smoke, call 911 immediately. Keep back a minimum of 10 metres (33 feet) from the wires or anything in contact with them and warn others of the danger. Always assume that the lines are energized.

Tune into your local media (on your battery operated/wind up radio if the power is out) for up-to-date information.

If the power is out and the temperatures have dropped, consider allowing your faucets to drip a little to avoid freezing up.

During extremely cold temperatures, if  you must go outdoors:

  • Dress appropriately. Thin layers of loose fitting clothing will trap body heat while aiding air circulation. Outer clothing should be hooded, tightly woven, and water repellent. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Wear a hat to prevent heat loss. If it is extremely cold, cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs
  • Limit your time out and watch out for signs of frostbite or hypothermia. Check out HealthLinkBC for information on cold temperature exposure http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/kb/content/symptom/colde.html
  • Be cautious when walking on icy streets
  • Pay particular attention to wind chill.. Frostbite becomes an increasing threat to humans and animals. Wet skin or wet clothing in direct contact with skin increases the effective wind chill.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia. Symptoms are shivering, confusion, and loss of muscular control. If symptoms occur, seek medical assistance immediately.
  • Be careful when shovelling. Vigorous exercise and cold temperatures can cause high blood pressure and accelerated heart rates. Take breaks, shovel with a buddy, warm up your muscles before you start, don't shovel right after you eat, and check with your doctor if you suffer from a particular condition.
  • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive: travel in the day; don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule; stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts.
  • Travel by daylight and with a companion if possible. When traveling alone, make sure someone knows which route you are taking, and your departure and expected arrival times. Be sure to notify them of when you arrive.

If you are trapped in your car here are some tips (link to our trapped in car document.

Material courtesy of www.getprepared.ca and www.publichealth.gc.ca