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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.​​​​​​​


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.

Driving during a winter storm

  • Make sure to find out about the coming weather conditions by checking your local forecast.
  • Avoid or delay travel if extreme weather conditions are expected.
  • If you have to drive, check current road conditions inside the city, and Alberta 511 for highway conditions.
  • Make sure you have a well-stocked vehicle emergency kit and winter tires installed to ensure good tire traction.
  • Plug in your vehicle for a few hours during extreme cold temperatures before you drive.
  • Let someone know where you’re going, your route, and your expected arrival time.
  • Clean snow and ice off your vehicle and ensure your headlights and windows are clear.
  • Drive slowly and leave extra distance between your vehicle and other vehicles, including sanders, graders and other snow removal equipment.
  • Ensure your windshield fluid it topped-up and replace any wiper blades that streak.

If you become stuck in your vehicle:

  • Remain calm, stay inside and call for help.
  • Occasionally run the engine to stay warm, but make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked with snow and beware of exhaust fumes.
  • Allow fresh air in by opening the window slightly on the sheltered side away from the wind.

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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 Human-centered Engagement Liaison Partnership (HELP) team at 403-998-7388. If they are in serious distress or non-responsive, call 911.

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.
  • Ensure your furnace and exhaust vents are free of snow and ice. Carbon monoxide can build up within your home if the vents are blocked.