Winter Storms - Emergency Preparedness

People walking down the street during a winter storm.
  • When a winter storm watch or warning is in effect, listen to the radio or television for information or instructions. When a winter storm hits, stay indoors and make sure you have enough heating fuel.
  • During winter storms, icy roads challenge even the most experienced drivers. If you must travel during a snowstorm, do so during the day and let someone know your route and expected arrival time. Where possible, stay on cleared routes.
  • Power outages are often caused by winter storms which damage power lines and equipment. During a power outage, you may be left without heating, lighting, water, or phone. You can greatly lessen the impact of a power outage by taking the time to prepare in advance. You and your family should have a Family Emergency Survival Kit (including battery-powered or wind-up radio) and be prepared to cope on your own during a power outage for at least 72 hours.
  • Farmers should take the necessary precautions to safeguard animals and livestock.
  • If you must go outside, dress for the weather.

Recognizing cold-related injuries

  • The risk of cold-related injury varies depending on the temperature, wind speed, length of time outdoors, age, physical conditions, and whether clothing is wet or dry.
  • Frostbite, or the freezing of body tissue exposed to the cold, is a common cold-related injury and has a numbing effect so you may not be aware you are frostbitten.

Warning signs include

  • A stinging or aching feeling, followed by numbness;
  • Skin that feels waxy and cold; and skin that turns red, then gray, white, yellow or blue.

How to treat frostbite

  • Move the person to a warm place and call for professional emergency medical help.
  • Don’t let the person walk if his or her feet are frostbitten.
  • Handle the frostbitten area gently; never rub it. Wait for professional emergency medical help to arrive.
  • Do not try to re-warm the frostbitten area.

How to treat hypothermia

  • Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it. Heat loss occurs more rapidly when you are wet. Warning signs of hypothermia include increased shivering, slurred speech, impaired judgement, and poor muscle coordination.
  • Gently move the person to a warm place and immediately call for professional emergency medical help.
  • Remove the person’s wet clothing. Slowly warm the person by wrapping them in blankets or putting on dry clothing. If the person is conscious, offer a warm, non- alcoholic drink and avoid caffeine.

When disaster strikes

  • Remain calm. Co-ordinated emergency services are responding.
  • Check for updates.
    • Halton Region’s Enhanced Community Emergency Notification Service (eCNS) is an emergency telephone notification service. It will be used in the event of a major disaster or catastrophe to communicate updates about emergency conditions, and other vital information, in addition to what you’ll receive from other sources.
    • Check our websites for updates about emergency conditions, what to do, where to go or other information you should know.
    • You may also receive information from television, radio and other sources, including door-to-door notification.
  • Help family members and neighbours.
  • Don’t forget your pets!

Be emergency ready – prepare for the first 72 hours of an emergency

  • Know the risks
  • Make a plan
  • Get a survival kit
  • More information

    To download Halton’s Personal Emergency Preparedness Guide, learn more about Halton’s Emergency Management program and what you can do to be prepared, visit halton.ca/beprepared, dial 311 or visit your local government website.