Government of Ontario
Ministry of the
Solicitor General

Winter Storms


Winter storms can be treacherous and damaging if you are unprepared. They can disrupt power supply and transportation and create home and personal safety issues. Bitter cold and winter storms kill more people than the number of Canadians killed by tornadoes, thunderstorms, lightning, floods and hurricanes combined. When you are building your family emergency plan review and discuss these safety tips with your entire household to make sure everyone understands what to do.

Make your Emergency Preparedness Action Plan

General Tips

If you are indoors:

  • Listen to the radio and/or television for weather reports and emergency information.
  • Stay indoors. If you must go outside, dress for the weather to avoid serious cold-related injuries.
  • Keep water running. Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.

If you are outdoors:

  • Avoid overexertion when shovelling snow. If you must shovel snow, ensure you take frequent breaks so as not to over-stress your body.
  • Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing. Wear mittens and a hat (preferably one that covers your ears).
  • Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.
  • It is important to regularly check for frostbite. Indicators include, numbness or white areas on your face and extremities (ears, nose, cheeks, hands and feet in particular).
  • Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

Prepare Now

  • Review and discuss the safety tips with your entire household to make sure everyone understands what to do during a severe winter storm.
  • Add additional items to your emergency survival kit such as; extra warm clothes or blankets.
  • Winterize your home to retain heat by insulating walls and attics, caulking or weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected once a year.