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How to Prepare for a Winter Emergency

Trees covered in snow, sledding, skiing, and sipping hot chocolate while warming up next to a fire can make winter a beautiful and fun-filled time of year. But waiting to ruin all your winter fun is a blizzard or severe winter storm. During the Ice Storm of December 2008, people in New England and Atlantic Canada were left without power for days and for weeks in some areas.


Here are 7 tips on how you can keep you and your family prepared for anything winter throws your way:


  1. Store Drinkable Water – your pipes might freeze or there is a chance the public water supply may be affected. If you have a well, you won’t be able to get water if your home doesn’t have power. The rule of thumb is to keep about a gallon of water per person per day. You should have enough water to last everyone in your household at least 3 days, and the water should only be used for drinking and washing your hands. You could also have some water purification tablets on hand. Lastly, be sure to listen to public announcements regarding the status of your local water supply.
  2. Keep Enough Food in Stock – store at least 72 hours of non-perishable food items per person. Non-perishable foods don’t require refrigeration, cooking, or preparing, and they can be stored for long periods of time. Also be sure to keep a non-electric can opener in case you need to open any canned foods, and keep a jar of instant coffee on hand if you enjoy a morning brew. If you have a gas stove, then you’ll have more options for food and can adjust accordingly.
  3. Keep a First Aid Kit – a good first aid kit should include: sterile gauze pads, adhesive tape, bandages, scissors, tweezers, instant ice packs, disposable non-latex gloves, antiseptic wipes, an emergency blanket, and a thermometer. You might also want to consider packing some over the counter medicines. Just make sure you check the expiration date before you use them.
  4. Radio and Flashlight – it’s a good idea to keep a hand or battery powered radio and flashlight in your kit.  For other lighting options consider purchasing an LED headlamp, these allow you to light the way and keep your hands free. Your radio can be used to listen to any emergency broadcasts.
  5. Keep Items for Warmth – keeping warm during a severe winter storm that knocks out power is critical to your safety. Make sure that you have some very warm clothes and blankets on hand. You wouldn’t want to be caught in a winter storm without them. Also, having an alternative heat source, such as a fireplace, woodstove or non electric space heater is a good idea. Don’t use an alternative heat source unless you know how to safely operate it.
  6. Personal Items – you should make sure that you have enough medication to last you for a few days since you might not be able to safely leave your home to get some more. Also, keeping some cash in hand, preferably in small bills is a good idea. Credit and debit card systems may be down, and you may need to purchase something if you’re able to safely leave your home.
  7. Communication – severe weather very rarely knocks out cellular service, and so it’s important to keep a cell phone charged in case you need to make an emergency call. Since power might be cut off to your home, be sure your cell phone has a car charger.




CAA North & East Ontario

Canadian Red Cross


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