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Essential planning for unpredictable winter weather

Living in Canada means living in unpredictable weather conditions, especially in the winter months. While some days can be delightfully mild, others can be unforgivingly harsh: from high winds to deep freezes, blizzards to ice storms, it can be difficult to predict what Mother Nature has in store from one day to the next.

Bad weather can lead to a number of challenges that can pose safety risks, including lengthy power outages, fallen trees and downed power lines. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, winter storms were cited as the disaster most likely to affect communities.

Winter is here. Though the weather can be unforgiving, there are a few crucial things you can do to stay safe in a storm.

Here are a few things to keep in mind to protect your loved ones and your property when the winter weather becomes hazardous:

  1. Keep an eye on the forecast: Seek regular local weather updates to get a sense of what the day will bring. Whether you get your alerts from the Internet, TV, radio, apps or social media, make sure you plan your activities accordingly. We know it can be tempting to venture out, but stay inside if the forecast calls for undesirable conditions. If you’re outside when a storm hits, stay away from damaged areas and get to a safe place as soon as possible.
  2. Have a plan for emergencies: Data shows that less than half of Canadians have a home emergency supply kit, but they’re simple to put together. Wondering what to include? Keep the essentials on hand, like flashlights with new batteries; a battery-powered radio; extra clothes and blankets; candles, candlesticks and matches; bottled water and canned food for you and your pets (aim for a three-day supply); and a manual can opener. Once prepared, store it in a dry place that’s easy to find without power. Also, make sure your home has working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on every level, and keep your car filled with gas in case nearby stations become inaccessible and you need to head out. Check out more tips from the Red Cross and the Government of Canada.
  3. Be mindful of appliances: If your power is out for a while, keep your fridge and freezer doors closed as much as possible to prevent food spoilage. Most refrigerated food will remain cold for four hours, while a full freezer will stay frozen for up to 48 hours (24 hours if half full). Unplug your other appliances (stoves should be turned off) and electronics, and lower your thermostat’s setting to protect them from surges when the power is restored. If you leave one light switch in the “ON” position, you’ll know when you’re back up and running.
  4. Stay clear of downed power lines: Stay at least 10 metres (33 feet) away from fallen power lines. Leave rescue and repair efforts to the experts by calling 911 immediately. If there’s electrical equipment close by, be aware: anything in contact with live wires at any distance could be energized, and touch can cause the voltage to flow. If a live wire lands on your car, only move the vehicle if possible; otherwise warn bystanders to stay clear and stay inside until emergency responders arrive on the scene. If you’re forced to abandon your vehicle, never touch it and the ground at the same time – scan the area for fallen wires, wrap your arms around yourself, keep both legs together, and jump far and clear.

Whatever weather the season brings, Alectra Utilities will continue to provide you with safe and reliable service. Check out our Twitter and Facebook feeds, as well as AlectraUtilities.com for regular updates, or call us to let us know about any power concerns.

Have a safe and wonderful winter!