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What to do during a severe winter storm or extreme cold

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Prepare for an emergency During a winter storm

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.

Blizzards are a likely occurrence in Calgary and they are happening more often, usually once every five years. In 2017 Calgary Police reported 60 collisions during a blizzard with wind gusts of 90 km/h. Our Disaster Risk Explorer has information about the risk of disasters in Calgary and what the City is doing to prepare for it.

How to prepare for a winter storm or extreme cold

  • ​​Winterize your home:
    • install storm shutters
    • clean the gutters
    • check your roof for damage
    • ensure proper insulation in the walls and attic
    • cover windows with plastic on the inside to keep in heat
    • use portable electric space heaters.
  • Winterize your vehicle: have a qualified mechanic inspect and prepare your vehicle for winter conditions
    • snow tires
    • general maintenance of the battery
    • electronics
    • fluids
    • thermostat
    • lights
    • 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
    • let someone know where you’re going, your route, and your expected arrival time
    • Consider using public transportation to avoid driving in less than ideal road conditions
  • Make sure your heating system is in good working condition. Have a back- up heating system or 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.
  • 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 911.
  • 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.
  • If you or someone you see needs help and shelter, call 211 or the DOAP (Downtown Outreach Addiction Partnership) team at 403-998-7388. If they are in serious distress or non-responsive, call 911.

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.