Major winter storm: What you should do

Last updated December 10, 2021
Reading time: 2 min

You need to take special care to stay safe during a severe winter storm, whether you’re in your home or outside. Follow our guidelines to help you and your family make it through winter storms.

During a snowstorm, ice storm or blizzard

When there is a major winter storm warning, we recommend you only go out when absolutely necessary.

Follow our safety guidelines for your home

  • Keep your 72-hour emergency kit handy.
  • Don’t overuse heating equipment and be sure to lower the thermostat in rooms you are not using.
  • When using portable heaters or space heaters, don’t overload the electrical circuits.
  • Don’t drape wet clothing on baseboard heaters.
  • If the power goes out, follow these instructions.

How to deal with the storm when you’re outside

If you’re already outside or if you absolutely must go out:

  • Use public transit if at all possible.
  • Dress warmly and watch for signs of frostbite or hypothermia.
  • Watch for falling ice and any downed power lines.
  • Avoid falls by following these tips.

If you must drive somewhere, make sure you have an emergency kit in your car and:

  • Try to drive on major roads, since they’re usually cleared sooner.
  • Let family or friends know your route and when you expect to arrive.
  • Stay inside your vehicle even if you’re stopped because of the snow, ice or poor visibility, unless you can take shelter in a nearby building.
  • When it gets dark, turn on the overhead light in your car so that you’re more visible to rescue teams. Run the engine occasionally to keep the battery charged.
  • Drive safely and know what to do in case of a skid

Stay informed and in contact with family and friends

  • Check our social media and Web sites to monitor the situation in real time. 
  • Stay in touch with family and friends and find out how others around you are doing, especially anyone who is more at risk (such as an elderly neighbour).

After a winter storm

  • Check our snow removal page to find out when your neighbourhood will be cleared.
  • Be extra careful when you go out, the roads may still be slippery.
  • Consider shovelling out the safety exits for your building and check the amount of snow on the roof of your building and your car.
  • If the power was out for a number of hours, check the condition of any perishable foods in the fridge and freezer.