Extreme Cold

Winter storms can occur on the North Shore. These events may result in power outages, blocked roads, icy conditions, and extremely cold temperatures. It's important to be prepared for winter weather before it strikes.
Check weather conditions at Environment Canada - Public Weather Warnings for alerts on the North Shore.

 

Preparing For Extreme Cold

  • Create a household emergency plan, including a family meeting place and an out-of-area contact where all family members can check in, in case you're separated. Practice your household emergency plan until everyone knows their role, and practice every six months.
  • Prepare an emergency kit to be self-sufficient for a minimum of 72 hours, but preferably one week. In addition to a home emergency kit, you should also have one in your vehicle and at work or school. Consider adding the following items:
    • Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways and driveways
    • Sand to improve traction
    • Snow shovels
  • Take first aid and emergency preparedness workshops and keep your training current.
  • Consider getting an external power bank/battery for cellphones and fully charging so it's ready as backup.
  • Download the Alertable app and sign up for emergency notifications.
  • Monitor Environment Canada weather alerts. When warnings occur, do a quick run through of your emergency plan.
  • Winterize your home by insulating walls and attics, caulking, weather stripping doors and windows, and insulating pipes. Learn more about preparing your home for the cold.
  • Have the BC Hydro number ready to report an outage, and prepare for an outage before it happens.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.
  • Prepare your vehicle by getting it ready for winter and keeping it in good repair, learning about safe winter driving, adding emergency supplies to your vehicle, and keeping your gas tank at least half full.

During Cold Weather

  • If possible stay indoors. If the power is out, keep warm by layering clothes that cover your head, hands, and feet. Close off all rooms not in use. NEVER use gas ranges or propane heaters for indoor heating or cooking, as carbon monoxide gas can build up and cause suffocation.
  • Contact BC Hydro to report a power outage.
  • If you see lines or poles down, or see any sparks, flames or smoke, call 911 immediately. Keep back a minimum of 10 metres (33 feet) from the wires or anything in contact with them, and warn others of the danger. Always assume that the lines are energized.
  • Tune into your local media (on your battery operated/wind up radio if the power is out) for up-to-date information.
  • If the power is out and the temperatures have dropped, allow your faucets to drip a little to avoid freezing pipes.
  • Drive only if it's absolutely necessary. If you must drive, check current road conditions, travel by daylight with a buddy if possible, keep others informed of your schedule, stay on main roads, and avoid back road shortcuts. If you must travel alone, make sure someone knows your route, and your departure and expected arrival times. Be sure to notify them when you arrive.
  • If you must go outdoors during extremely cold temperatures:
    • Dress appropriately. Thin layers of loose fitting clothing will trap body heat while aiding air circulation. Outer clothing should be hooded, tightly woven, and water repellent. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Wear a hat to prevent heat loss. If it's extremely cold, cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
    • Limit your time out and watch out for signs of frostbite or hypothermia. Symptoms are shivering, confusion, and loss of muscular control; if symptoms occur, seek medical assistance immediately. Check out HealthLinkBC for information on cold temperature exposure.
    • Be cautious when walking on icy streets as there's a high risk of slipping and injuries.
    • Pay attention to wind chill. Frostbite becomes an increasing threat to humans and animals. Wet skin or wet clothing in direct contact with skin increases the effective wind chill.
    • Be careful when shovelling. Vigorous exercise and cold temperatures can cause high blood pressure and accelerated heart rates. Take breaks, shovel with a buddy, warm up your muscles before you start, don't shovel right after you eat, and check with your doctor if you suffer from a particular condition.
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