Severe Weather

Winter Storm Hazards

During winter, storms can put your safety at risk in many ways.

Pay attention to weather forecasts and take appropriate preparedness measures to ensure your personal safety. Watch this preparedness video to get started.

Be Prepared

While most power outages last only minutes, in severe weather events, the power can be off for longer periods of time.

Think ahead and get prepared.

  • Plan for isolation in your home.
  • Consider a safe backup heating system.
  • Ensure that you have enough heating fuel for fire places or wood burning stoves.
  • Have working smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and sprinklers.
  • Have a fire escape plan in place.

It is a good idea to assess the trees on your property. Trim dead branches to reduce the danger of them falling onto power lines or your house during a storm.

Stay away from fallen power lines. A hanging power line could be charged (live) and electrocute you. Also remember that ice, branches or power lines can continue to break and fall for several hours after a storm ends.

Power Failure

Most home heating systems depend on electric power. As backup, consider installing a non-electric standby stove or heater.

  • Choose approved heating units that don’t need electric motors, fans or other electrical devices to work.
  • If the standby heating unit uses the normal house oil or gas supply, make sure it’s properly connected and vented. 

Before using an emergency home generator during a power outage, check with the dealer or manufacturer for power needs and proper operating procedures.

  • Use caution and follow directions.
  • Make sure they are in a well-ventilated area.
  • Do not connect your home portable generator directly to a house wiring system without the proper installation of an approved transfer switch and inspection and approval by an electrical inspector.

Never use a camp stove, barbecue, or propane or kerosene heater indoors. You can die from a build-up of carbon monoxide gas in unventilated areas.

If your home heating system fails, take the following precautions:

  • Remain calm. Your house may remain warm for several hours.
  • Avoid opening doors unnecessarily.
  • During a power failure, turn off all electrical appliances.
  • If you have a safe, approved backup heat source, start to use it before the house cools down.
  • Maintain adequate ventilation.
  • Stay warm. Dress in layers and bring out extra blankets.
  • Consider closing off one room for primary heating and use.
  • If you’re worried about freezing pipes, opening a tap even a small amount may keep water moving enough to keep pipes from freezing.

For information about power outages and estimated power restoration in your area, visit the BC Hydro website.

Icy Conditions

Stairways and sidewalks may be icy and increase the risk of falls.


Wind chill is a combination of cold temperatures and wind conditions which may cause rapid loss of body temperature. Excess wind chill may require special precautions for outdoor activities. If you suspect frostbite or hypothermia, know how to begin warming the person slowly and seek immediate medical assistance.


In extreme conditions, you may want to arrange to stay with relatives, friends or neighbours.

  • Listen to weather forecasts and instructions from local officials.
  • Communities may set up reception centres to support residents.
  • Keep an eye out for your neighbours who may be at risk.
  • Always follow the instructions of first responders and local emergency officials.
  • Take your Grab and Go Bag  if you need to evacuate.