Preparing for Severe Weather

Although weather is, by its very nature – unpredictable, you can still protect your family or business by anticipating the worst. High winds, falling trees, damage to buildings, and flooding are just a few of the risks you need to anticipate.

Government of Canada Weather

You can get up-to-date weather alerts from the Government of Canada website. The Weather page warns the public and emergency responders of severe weather that has the potential to cause widespread disruption or endanger life.

If severe weather looms on the horizon, always check the Weather website for the latest warnings by visiting http://weather.gc.ca. Click the “public alerts” image to see a map of alerts. Then click on your region for specific information.

Weather Alerts

When severe weather is occurring, the Government of Canada issues alerts through the media, the Weather radio service, and the Weather website.

The type of alert issued depends on the severity of the weather conditions.

  • Special weather statements (not severe) are issued when the weather is not expected to have any noticeable impacts, but there might be minor issues that may require extra care while travelling. This alert could be issued if weather has the potential to disrupt outdoor events or activities and cause minor traffic delays.
  • Watches (moderate severity) are issued when the public should take precautions when possible and anticipate longer travel times and some disruption to normal daily routines.
  • Warnings (severe) are issued when the power of a storm is confirmed to be very serious. The public should access the latest weather forecast to locate and understand the extreme weather conditions and follow all orders and advice from the authorities. All non-essential trips should be avoided. If you must make a trip, carry emergency supplies. Warnings are usually issued six to 24 hours before a storm system is going to hit, unless it is something such as a tornado, which can form faster without much notice.

Be Prepared

Specific weather events can present unique hazards. Make sure your insurance policy safeguards your home or business against severe weather damage. Also, use these weather-specific safety tips to help combat property damage and personal injury:

  • Wind is one of the most common causes of damage and disruption in Canada. Secure all loose objects outside your home or business. Close and fasten all windows and doors. If your building has storm shutters, make sure to close and fasten them as well. Park any vehicles you own inside if possible or outside and away from buildings, trees, and fences. When surveying the damage after the storm, stay away from exposed electrical cables.
  • Flooding can stem from short periods of intense rainfalls or longer periods of heavy rain. Prevention such as installing a back-flow valve and cleaning eaves troughs and down spouts help. Additionally, ensure your sump pump is in good condition with a back-up battery power. Prepare a flood kit of essential items for survival, including a flashlight, first-aid kit, bottled water and non-perishable food. Put your insurance documents somewhere safe as they will be essential in processing your claim. Turn off all gas, electricity, and water supplies. Only re-enter your property when emergency services deem it safe. Take photos of the damage and phone your insurer immediately.
  • Thunderstorms and lightning have the potential to fry electronics—unplug all non-essential appliances. Seek shelter if possible and refrain from using anything that can conduct electricity, such as telephone lines or taps and sinks.
  • Heavy snow and ice render roads difficult or impossible to travel. Halt all non-essential travel or at least wait until the roads have been cleared. Exercise extreme caution when driving, walking, and shovelling.
  • Dense fog creates difficult driving conditions, exacerbated by patchiness, and rapid drift. Fog warnings are issued when visibility is expected to fall below one kilometre. Postpone any non-essential travel. Drive very slowly with low-beam headlights, as full-beam lights shine too brightly and create a “white wall” effect. Proceed with caution.
  • Heat waves cause health problems and possible damage to property. Drink lots of fluids and to stay out of the sunshine, especially during the hottest part of the day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Keep your home or building cool by closing curtains or blinds.

Stay Vigilant

Heeding advice from the Government of Canada Weather and local authorities is key to protecting your family or business from severe weather, but a constant state of vigilance will boost your efforts. Consult the Government of Canada forecasts, weatherproof your property, and educate your family about proper procedures during severe weather.

Make sure that your property, automobiles, and RVs are insured properly. Review the coverages with a specialist at Access Insurance Group. Get advice, a quote, or make a change anywhere in Alberta or in person at one of our locations in Edmonton, Stony Plain, Red Deer, Lacombe, Lloydminster, Olds, and Vermilion.