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May 8, 2023

Across the country, we face number of natural hazards which can vary from region to region. Knowing what to do in each situation is an important part of being prepared. The following is a short list of hazards and emergency situations that could happen in our region, and instructions on what to do should you encounter them.


  • If you are indoors, stay inside and DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON.
  • Drop under heavy furniture such as a table, desk, bed or any solid furniture.
  • Cover your head and torso to prevent being hit by falling objects.
  • Hold onto the object that you are under so that you remain covered.
  • Stay away from windows, shelves with heavy objects and light fixtures .
  • If you are outdoors, stay outside and go to an open area away from buildings, or if you are in a crowded area, take covered where you won’t be trampled.
  • If you are in a vehicle, pull over to a safe place where you are not blocking the road and stay inside the car.
  • Avoid downed power lines – stay at least 10 m away to avoid injury.


  • If a flood is forecasted, turn off basement furnaces and the outside gas valve.
  • Vacate your home when you are advised to do so by local emergency authorities. Ignoring such a warning could jeopardize the safety of your family or those who might eventually have to come to your rescue.
  • Do NOT attempt to shut off electricity if any water is present – water and live electrical wires can be lethal.
  • Follow the routes specified by officials. Don't take shortcuts. They could lead you to a blocked or dangerous area.
  • Never cross a flooded area. If you are on foot, fast water could sweep you away. If you are in a car, do not drive through flood waters or underpasses as the water may be deeper than it looks.
  • Avoid crossing bridges if the water is high and flowing quickly.


  • If you must travel during a winter storm, do so during the day and let someone know your route and arrival time.
  • If your car gets stuck in a blizzard or snowstorm, remain calm and stay in your car. Allow fresh air in your car by opening the window slightly on the sheltered side - away from the wind. You can run the car engine about 10 minutes every half-hour if the exhaust system is working well. Beware of exhaust fumes and check the exhaust pipe periodically to make sure it is not blocked with snow. Remember: you can't smell potentially fatal carbon monoxide fumes.
  • To keep your hands and feet warm, exercise them periodically. In general, it is a good idea to keep moving to avoid falling asleep. If you do try to shovel the snow from around your car, avoid overexerting yourself.

Ice Storms:

  • Ice from freezing rain accumulates on branches, power lines and buildings. If you must go outside when a significant amount of ice has accumulated, pay attention to branches or wires that could break due to the weight of the ice and fall on you. Ice sheets could also do the same.
  • Never touch power lines. A hanging power line could be charged (live) and you would run the risk of electrocution. Remember also that ice, branches or power lines can continue to break and fall for several hours after the end of the precipitation.
  • When freezing rain is forecast, avoid driving. Even a small amount of freezing rain can make roads extremely slippery. Wait several hours after freezing rain ends so that road maintenance crews have enough time to spread sand or salt on icy roads.


  • Always take shelter during a lightning storm.
  • There is no safe place outside during a thunderstorm. Safe shelter can be found either in an enclosed building or a hard-topped vehicle.
  • If you can see lightning or hear thunder, you are in danger of being hit. Seek shelter immediately.
  • Wait 30 minutes after the last lightning strike in a severe storm before venturing outside again.
  • Do not ride bicycles, motorcycles, tractors, or golf carts. These will not protect you from a lightning strike.


  • A tornado is deceptive. It may appear to be standing still but is, in fact, moving toward you.
  • Get as close to the ground as possible, protect your head and watch for flying debris
  • If you are driving and spot a tornado in the distance, go to the nearest solid shelter.
  • If the tornado is close, get out of your car and take cover in a low-lying area, such as a ditch.
  • If you are inside your home, go to the basement or take shelter in a small interior ground floor room such as a bathroom, closet or hallway.
  • If you have no basement, protect yourself by taking shelter under a heavy table or desk.
  • In all cases, stay away from windows, outside walls and doors.


  • Monitor local radio stations.
  • Be prepared to evacuate at any time. If told to evacuate, do so.
  • Keep all doors and windows closed in your home.
  • Remove flammable drapes, curtains, awnings, or other window coverings.
  • Keep lights on to aid visibility in case smoke fills the house.
  • If sufficient water is available, turn sprinklers on to wet the roof and any water-proof valuables.


For more detailed lists of natural ad other hazards and more practical information on what to in each case, visit GetPrepared.gc.ca.

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