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What to do during a severe winter storm or extreme cold

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Severe winter storm

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Prepare you family or business for an emergency

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During a winter storm

Prepare you family or business for an emergency

Heavy snowfall, high winds, extreme cold days with a wind chill reaching -40°C or colder, blizzards, and freezing rain are most likely between October and May in Calgary. Winter storms have the potential to cause power outages, supply shortages, traffic collisions, road closures, travel delays, property damage, collapsed roofs, evacuations and other impacts.

How to prepare for a winter storm or extreme cold

  • ​​Winterize your home: install storm shutters, clean the gutters, check your roof for damage and do any required repairs, ensure proper insulation in the walls and attic, cover windows with plastic on the inside to keep in heat, and use portable electric space heaters.
  • Winterize your vehicle by having a qualified mechanic inspect and prepare your vehicle for winter conditions (snow tires, general maintenance of the battery, electronics, fluids, thermostat, lights and brakes).
  • Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle with extra clothes, blankets and candles.
    Ensure that your vehicle’s gas tank is always at least half-full.
  • Have your 72-hour emergency kit ready in case you need to evacuate or shelter-in-place. Be prepared for power outages.
  • Stock up on cold and flu medication and consider receiving the flu shot.
  • Service snow removal equipment and keep a supply of rock salt to melt ice on walkways.

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Staying safe during a winter storm

  • Don’t venture out if extreme weather conditions are expected. If you must travel, avoid remote areas and let someone know where you’re going, your route, and your expected arrival time. You may want to consider using public transportation to avoid driving in less than ideal road conditions.
  • Make sure your heating system is in good working condition, that you have a back- up heating system and you have supplies for a wood burning fireplace if you have one.
  • If you are going out, ensure you are dressed for the weather and have layers to add or remove in the case of changing weather.
  • If you must be outside, seek shelter and keep moving to maintain body heat.
  • If you begin to experience symptoms of frostbite or hypothermia, seek medical attention or call 9-1-1.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbours who may require additional support during a winter storm.
  • Have a working carbon monoxide (CO) detector and be especially cautious if you are using space heaters indoors. Never use barbecues, camping heaters, gas or coal stoves or a generator indoors.

Driving during a winter storm

  • Check the Road Conditions Map and consider delaying travel until the roads are safer.
  • Clean snow and ice off your vehicle and ensure your headlights and windows are clear.
  • Give yourself extra time to reach your destination.
  • Reduce your speed and turn on your headlights.
  • Drive defensively.
  • Leave extra distance between your vehicle and the working sanders, graders, other snow removal equipment and other vehicles.
  • Do not pass working sanders or equipment.
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After a winter storm or an extreme cold warning

Keeping walkways free of ice and snow helps all community members move safely through neighbourhoods. Be a good neighbour - help shovel if you can.

  • Clear the snow away from fire hydrants in your neighbourhood to make sure first responders can access them.
  • Check furnace and exhaust vents to make sure snow and ice are not blocking them. Carbon monoxide can build up within your home as a result. Clear storm drains if possible or call 3-1-1.