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On this page: Scroll below for info on: Tornados

General Situations (when no other safety command has been given):

  • Use only 911 to call for aid from the fire dept, police, first responders, or ambulance.
  • Stay calm.
  • Listen to your radio or television for news and instructions.
  • If the disaster occurs near you, check for injuries - yourself and others (tend to your own well-being first). Give first aid and get help for anyone seriously injured.
  • If the emergency occurs near your home while you are there, check for damage using a flashlight. Do not light matches or candles or turn on electrical switches. Check for fires, fire hazards and other household hazards.
  • Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater or furnace. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows and get everyone outside quickly.
  • Shut off any other damaged utilities. Notify the utility company of the problem.
  • Confine or secure your pets.
  • Call your family contact. Don't use the telephone unless it is absolutely necessary. Emergency crews will need all available lines
  • Check on your neighbors, especially those who are elderly or disabled.

SOME DOs when assisting an injured person:

    • Survey the scene to make sure the scene is safe for you and others.
    • Check the victim for responsiveness. If the person does not respond, call for professional emergency medical assistance (Call 9-1-1).
    • Check and care for life-threatening problems; check the person's airway, breathing and circulation, attend to severe bleeding and shock.
    • When appropriate, check and care for additional problems such as burns and injuries to muscles, bones and joints.
    • Keep monitoring the person's condition for life-threatening problems while waiting for medical assistance to arrive.
    • Help the person rest in the most comfortable position and provide reassurance.


    • Move an injured person without rendering first aid unless the casualty is in immediate danger.
    • Smoke or strike matches in case there is a gas leak.
    • Crawl over debris or disturb parts of the damaged structure unless you are compelled to do so by circumstances.
    • Pull timber out of the wreckage indiscriminately as you may cause further collapse.
    • Touch loose electrical wiring.

Steps to Safely Taking Shelter - Shelter-In-Place Command

If you are advised by the phone fan out or local officials to "shelter-in-place", you must remain inside your home or office and protect yourself there. The following steps will help maximize your protection:

  • Follow your Family Plan.
  • Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
  • Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems.
  • Close the fireplace damper.
  • Get your emergency supplies kit and make sure the radio is working.
  • Go to an interior room that's above ground level (if possible one without windows). In the case of a chemical threat, an above-ground location is preferable because some chemicals are heavier than air, and may seep into basements even if the windows are closed.
  • Using duct or other wide tape, seal all cracks around the door and any vents into the room.
  • Continue to monitor your radio or television until you are told all is safe or advised to evacuate. Local officials may later call for the evacuation of specific areas in your community that are at greatest risk. Responders will advise when it is safe to leave the premises.
  • If you are taking shelter with another family (your prearranged buddy family), be sure to leave an obvious note on the door of your own home as to where you are. Your block captain should be notified that you are with your buddy family.

Steps to Safely Evacuating:

If the emergency is serious enough, you may be asked to leave your home and go to a nearby evacuation center (like a school gym, a community hall, or neighboring community). If local authorities ask you to leave your home, they have a good reason to make this request, and you should heed their advice immediately. Listen to your radio or television and follow the instructions of local emergency officials, keeping these simple tips in mind.

  • Follow your Family Plan.
  • Leave immediately, if instructed to do so.
  • Immediately proceed to the assigned Reception Centre and register you and your family. This will insure that you and your family members are accounted for.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and sturdy shoes so you can be protected as much as possible. Wear clothes and shoes appropriate to conditions.
  • Take your emergency survival supplies kit.
  • Lock your home.
  • Take a cellular telephone if you have one, but do not tie up transmission lines needlessly.
  • Use travel routes specified by local authorities. Don't use shortcuts because certain areas may be impassable or dangerous. Stay away from downed power lines.
  • If you are to go to an evacuation center, sign up with the registration desk so you can be contacted or reunited with your family and loved ones.
  • Do not go elsewhere and fail to show up at the registration center, as valuable time and effort may be spent trying to locate you to see that you are accounted for.
  • When you call or e-mail your family contact (identified in your personal emergency plan) alert them to any separated family members.
  • Leave a note telling others that you have left for the reception area. This will be useful to response teams checking to see that all families have vacated the emergency area.
  • Listen to local or provincial/territorial authorities for the most accurate information about an event in your area.
  • Plan to take your pets with you; do not leave them behind. Because pets are not permitted in public shelters, follow your plan to go to a relative or friend's home, or find a "pet-friendly" hotel.
  • If instructed to do so, shut off water and electricity before leaving. Leave natural gas service 'on' unless local officials advise you otherwise because you might need to contact your utility company to restore gas service/reconnect appliances in your home once it's been turned off and in a disaster situation, it could take weeks for a professional to respond.
  • If you have to evacuate your home for a prolonged period during a winter power failure, (if you have time) drain the water from the plumbing system. Starting at the top of the house, open all taps, flush toilets several times and open the drain valve in the basement. Drain your hot water tank by attaching a hose to the tank drain valve and running it to the basement floor drain. (If you drain a gas-fired water tank, the pilot light should be turned off -- the local gas supplier should be called to re-light it!). Unhook washing-machine hoses and drain.

Winter storms -- freezing rain, heavy snow, blowing snow and blizzards

Blizzards come in on a wave of cold arctic air, bringing snow, bitter cold, high winds and poor visibility in blowing snow. While these conditions must last for at least six hours to be designated a blizzard, they may last for several days. Although snowfall may not be heavy, the poor visibility, low temperatures and high winds constitute a significant hazard.
Freezing rain occurs when an upper air layer has an above-freezing temperature while the temperature at the surface is below freezing. The snow that falls melts in the warmer layer; as a result, it is rain -- not snow -- that lands on the surface. But since the temperature is below 0°C, raindrops freeze on contact and turn into a smooth layer of ice spreading on the ground or any other object like trees or power lines. More slippery than snow, freezing rain is tough and clings to everything it touches. A little of it is dangerous, a lot can be catastrophic. In Canada, blizzards are most common in the Prairies and the eastern Arctic. Heavy snowfalls are most common in British Columbia, areas around the Great Lakes, southern and eastern Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. Freezing rain can occur pretty much anywhere in the country but is particularly common from Ontario to Newfoundland.
On average, the storms and cold of winter kill more than 100 people every year. That is more than the total number of people killed by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, lightning and extreme heat.
  • If you live in a community located in one of the areas where blizzards or heavy snows are frequent, you may want to consider stocking up on heating fuel and ready-to-eat food, as well as battery-powered flashlights and radios -- and extra batteries.
  • When freezing rain, heavy snow, blowing snow or a blizzard is forecast, leave your radio on to stay informed of the situation and hear updated forecasts.
  • If a blizzard or heavy blowing snow is forecast and if you are on a farm with livestock, bring the animals into the barn. Make sure they have plenty of water and food. You may also want to string a lifeline between your house and any outbuildings to which you may have to go during the storm.
  • When a winter storm hits, stay indoors. If you must go to the outbuildings, dress for the weather. Outer clothing should be tightly woven and water-repellent. The jacket should have a hood. Wear mittens -- they are warmer than gloves -- and a hat, as most body heat is lost through the head.
  • In wide open areas, visibility can be virtually zero during heavy blowing snow or a blizzard. You may easily lose your way. If a blizzard strikes, do not try to walk to another building unless there is a rope to guide you or something you can follow.
  • Ice from freezing rain accumulates on branches, power lines and buildings. If you must go outside when a significant accumulation of ice has already occurred, pay attention to branches or wires that could break, due to the weight of the ice, and fall on you. Ice sheets could also do the same. Above all, do not touch power lines: a hanging power line could be charged (live) and you would run the risk of electrocution. Remember also that ice, branches or power lines can continue to break and fall for several hours after the end of the precipitation, so be vigilant.
  • Finally, if the power has been off for several hours, check the food in the refrigerator and freezer in case it has spoiled.

During a Winter Power Failure

  • Check whether the power failure is limited to your home. If your neighbors' power is still on, check your own circuit-breaker panel or fuse box. If the problem is not a breaker or a fuse, check the service wires leading to the house. If they are obviously damaged or on the ground, stay well back and notify your electric supply authority (keep the number along with other emergency numbers near your telephone).
    If your neighbors' power is also out, notify your electric supply authority.
  • Use proper candle holders. Never leave lit candles unattended.
  • Don't use charcoal or gas barbecues, camping heating equipment or home generators indoors. They give off carbon monoxide. Because you can't smell or see it, carbon monoxide can cause health problems and even kill you before you know it's there.
  • Keep an emergency survival kit -- containing provisions for at least three days -- stored in a handy place.
  • You should also prepare a portable emergency survival kit in the event that you have to evacuate your home. Is a power failure
  • Leave one light switch on, so you know when power is restored.
  • Don't open your freezer or fridge unless it is absolutely necessary. A full freezer will keep food frozen for 24 to 36 hours if the door remains closed.
  • Use your battery-powered, or car radio for local information..
  • Turn off all tools, appliances and electronic equipment -- and turn the thermostat(s) for the home heating system down to minimum -- for the following reasons:
    • Tools and appliances left on will start up automatically upon restoration of service; turning them off will prevent injury, damage or fire.
    • If a power surge follows startup, it could damage sensitive electronic equipment such as computers, microwaves and VCRs. (Protecting these appliances with a surge-proof powerbar is a smart and inexpensive precaution.)
    • Power can be restored more easily when there is not a heavy load on the electrical system.
  • Heating: Most Canadian home-heating systems are dependent upon electric power. Power supply interruptions can last from a few hours to several days and are often caused by freezing rain, sleet storms and/or high winds which damage power lines and equipment. An extended power failure during winter months, and subsequent loss of heating, can result in cold, damp homes, severe living conditions and damage to walls, floors and plumbing. Following these simple suggestions can reduce the harmful effects of power and heating failure in subzero weather.
    • Remember that even in very cold weather, a house with closed doors and windows will not become too cold for comfort for several hours.
    • But, if you have a backup heating unit, turn it on before the house gets too cold. If the unit must be vented to the same chimney flue as the furnace, switch the furnace off before disconnecting the furnace flue.
    • You can install a non-electric standby stove or heater. Choose heating units that are not dependent on an electric motor, electric fan or some other electrical device to function. It is also important to adequately vent the stove or heater with the type of chimney flue specified for it. Never connect two heating units to the same chimney flue at the same time. If it is necessary to vent the standby heater to the existing chimney flue used by the furnace, first disconnect the furnace from it. Use only fuel-burning heaters certified by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or Canadian Gas Association.
    • If the standby heating unit will use the normal house oil or gas supply, have it connected with shutoff valves by a competent technician.
    • If you have a wood-burning fireplace, clean the flue every fall in preparation for its use for home heating (i.e. sustained use at high temperatures). The creosote in a flue can be ignited by sustained high temperatures and develop into a chimney fire.
    • If you have a fireplace, keep a good supply of fuel on hand.
    • Before considering the use of an emergency generator during a power failure, check with furnace, appliance and lighting fixture dealers or manufacturers regarding power requirements and proper operating procedures.
      • Home generators are handy for backup electricity in case of an outage, but there are hazards to keep in mind. Serious accidents can result when a home generator is connected to an existing electrical circuit. If the electricity produced by the home generator follows the electrical lines back to the transformer, and the current is transformed to a higher voltage, the lives of any utility employees working on the lines nearby are endangered. Anyone touching equipment powered by the generator is also in danger. Also, when the main electric power comes back on, a generator connected to the existing electrical circuit will result in an explosion and fire. Direct installation of a generator to an existing electrical system should only be done by a qualified technician and approved by your electric supply authority.
      • Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
      • Always ensure that the generator operates outdoors in well-ventilated conditions, well away from doors or windows, to prevent exhaust gases from entering the house.
      • Connect lights and appliances directly to the generator. If extension cords must be used, ensure they are properly rated, CSA-approved cords.
  • Your Home - if you have to evacuate during winter power failure. A house can be damaged by low temperatures, but the major threat is to the plumbing system. If a standby heating system is used, check to see that no part of the plumbing system can freeze. If the house must be evacuated, protect it by taking the following precautions:
    • Turn off the main breaker or switch of the circuit-breaker panel or power-supply box.
    • Turn off the water main where it enters the house. Protect the valve, inlet pipe and meter or pump with blankets or insulation material.
    • Drain the water from your plumbing system. Starting at the top of the house, open all taps and flush toilets several times. Go to the basement and open the drain valve. Drain your hot water tank by attaching a hose to the tank drain valve and running it to the basement floor drain. (If you drain a gas-fired water tank, the pilot light should be turned out -- and the local gas supplier should be called to re-light it!)
    • Unhook washing-machine hoses and drain.
    • Do not worry about small amounts of water trapped in horizontal pipes. Add a small amount of glycol or antifreeze to water left in the toilet bowl, the sink and bathtub traps.
    • If your house is protected from groundwater by a sump pump, clear valuables from the basement floor in case of flooding.
    • Listen to a battery-operated or car radio for more detailed local advice and instructions.
  • After the power returns:
    • If the main electric switch was turned off, check to ensure appliances, electric heaters, TVs, microwave ovens, computers, etc. are unplugged to prevent damage from a power surge when the power is restored.
    • Do not enter a flooded basement unless you are sure the power is disconnected.
    • Do not use flooded appliances, electrical outlets, switch boxes or fuse-breaker panels until they have been checked and cleaned by a qualified technician.
    • Replace the furnace flue (if removed) and turn off the fuel to the standby heating unit.
    • Switch on the main electric supply.
    • Give the electrical system a chance to stabilize before reconnecting tools and appliances. Turn the heating system thermostats up first, followed in a couple of minutes by reconnection of the fridge and freezer. Wait 10 to 15 minutes before reconnecting all other tools and appliances.
    • Close the drain valve in the basement.
    • Turn on the water supply. Close lowest valves/taps first and allow air to escape from upper taps.
    • Make sure that the hot water heater is filled before turning on its power supply.
    • Rinse out dishwasher and washing machine if necessary.
    • Warm house slightly above normal temperature for a few hours to allow it to dry thoroughly.
    • Check food supplies in refrigerators, freezers and cupboards for signs of spoilage. If a freezer door has been kept closed, food should stay frozen 24 to 36 hours, depending on the temperature. When food begins to defrost (usually after two days), it should be cooked; otherwise it should be destroyed in accordance with instructions from your local public health authorities.
    • As a general precaution, keep a bag of ice cubes in the freezer. If you return home after a period of absence and the ice has melted and refrozen, there is a good chance that the food is spoiled.
    • Restock your emergency survival kit so the supplies will be there when needed again.
  • Downed power lines. Call your electric supply authority with the exact location of the downed line. Keep back a minimum of 10 meters (33 feet) from wires or anything in contact with them and warn others of the danger. Always assume that the lines are live. It is difficult to distinguish between power lines and other utility lines (for example, telephone or cable lines) and they also carry sufficient power to cause harm. Therefore, treat all lines as a danger.



If you are like many Canadians you may have cleaned up after a severe storm and you know the damage they can cause. Some problems cannot be prevented. High winds will topple trees and heavy rains will cause rivers to flood. But some damage can be avoided, or at least reduced, if you take a few simple precautions such as knowing the type of storms common to your area and what time of year they are likely to strike. Thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, blizzards, high winds and heavy rain can develop quickly and hit hard, posing a threat to life and property. Storms such as tornadoes often strike too quickly to allow you to choose a shelter or to pack an emergency kit. You may want to have your family plan in place that outlines where you will go and how you will keep in touch with members of your family if a severe storm hits. Municipal, provincial and territorial emergency management organizations can provide valuable advice to help you prepare for emergencies.
  • Listen for the warnings: Environment Canada monitors the weather 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If a severe storm is on the horizon, the weather service issues watches, advisories and warnings through national, regional and local radio and television stations, as well as Environment Canada's Weatheradio.
  • Weather watch: Conditions are favorable for a severe storm, even though one has not yet developed. This is usually issued early in the day. Keep monitoring weather conditions and listen for updated statements.
  • Weather warning: Severe weather is happening or hazardous weather is highly probable. If a weather warning is issued for a tornado, it means that one or more tornadoes have been observed or are forecast for the specified area. Other warnings include those for a severe thunderstorm, blizzard, high winds, heavy snow, snow squall, heavy rain and significant freezing rain. Be prepared.
  • Choose your shelter area: A basement, storm cellar or a closet beneath the stairs are good places to take shelter in the event of a severe storm. If none of these is available, sit underneath a sturdy piece of furniture on the ground floor in the center of the building, away from the outside walls and windows. Be sure you discuss the shelter area with your family ahead of time.
  • When a severe storm is forecast. Severe weather can occur any time of the year, winter or summer. Make it a habit to listen to the local radio or television stations for severe weather warnings and advice. Make sure you have a battery-powered radio on hand; electricity frequently fails during a severe storm.
    • Secure everything that might be blown around or torn loose -- indoors and outdoors. Flying objects such as garbage cans and lawn furniture can injure people and damage property. If hail is forecast, you may want to protect your vehicle by putting it in the garage. (If the severe storm is upon you you should not be trying to do these things.)
    • Never venture out in a boat. If you are on the water and you see bad weather approaching, head for shore immediately. Always check the marine forecast before leaving for a day of boating and listen to weather reports during your cruise.
    • If you are outdoors when a storm hits, take shelter immediately. If you are advised by officials to evacuate, do so. Take your emergency kit with you.
    • Stay calm. You will be better able to cope with emergencies.


Tornadoes form suddenly -- often preceded by warm, humid weather -- and are always produced by thunderstorms, although not every thunderstorm produces a tornado.

Tornadoes are violent windstorms characterized by a twisting, funnel-shaped cloud which forms at the base of cloud banks and points towards the ground. Tornadoes usually move over the ground at anywhere from 20 to 90 kilometers per hour and often travel from the southwest to the northeast. They are erratic and can change course suddenly. It is not a good idea to chase tornadoes.

Generally speaking, May to September are prime tornado months. Tornadoes usually hit in the afternoon and early evening but they have been known to strike at night too. Canada has several high-risk areas, including Alberta, southern Ontario, southern Quebec and a band of land which stretches from southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba through to Thunder Bay, Ontario. There are also tornado zones in the interior of British Columbia and in western New Brunswick.

There are warning signs, including:
- severe thunderstorms, with frequent thunder and lightning
- an extremely dark sky, sometimes highlighted by green or yellow clouds
- a rumbling sound, such as a freight train might make, or a whistling sound, such as a jet aircraft might make a funnel cloud at the rear base of a thundercloud, often behind a curtain of heavy rain or hail.

Things to do in case of a tornado

  • If you live in one of Canada's high-risk areas, you should listen to your radio during severe thunderstorms. As a rule, when Environment Canada issues a tornado warning, radio stations broadcast it immediately. If you hear that a tornado warning has been issued for your area, take cover immediately.
  • If you are at home, go to the basement or take shelter in a small interior ground floor room such as a bathroom, closet or hallway. Failing that, protect yourself by taking shelter under a heavy table or desk. In all cases, stay away from windows, outside walls and doors.
  • If you are in an office or apartment building, take shelter in an inner hallway or room, ideally in the basement or on the ground floor. Do not use the elevator and stay away from windows. Avoid buildings such as gymnasiums, churches and auditoriums with wide-span roofs. These roofs do not have supports in the middle and may collapse if a tornado hits them. If you are in one of these buildings, take cover under a sturdy structure.
  • Do not get caught in a car or mobile home. More than 50 per cent of all deaths from tornadoes happen in mobile homes. Take shelter elsewhere -- such as a building with a strong foundation. If no shelter is available, lie down in a ditch away from the automobile or mobile home. However, beware of flooding from downpours and be prepared to move.
  • If you are driving and spot a tornado in the distance, try to get to a nearby shelter. If the tornado is close, get out of your car and take cover in a low-lying area. If a tornado seems to be standing still, then it is either travelling away from you or heading right for you.
  • On a farm If your personal safety is not at risk, you may have time to open routes of escape for your livestock. Open the gate, if necessary, and then exit the area in a direction perpendicular to the expected path of the tornado.
  • In a recreational vehicle or mobile home Find shelter elsewhere, preferably in a building with a strong foundation. If no shelter is available, crouch down in a ditch away from the mobile home or recreational vehicle. Beware of flooding from downpours and be prepared to move.
  • In a high rise building Take shelter in an inner hallway or room, ideally in the basement or on the ground floor. Do not use the elevator. Stay away from windows.
  • In a gymnasium, church or auditorium Large buildings with wide-span roofs may collapse if a tornado hits. If you are in one of these buildings and cannot leave, take cover under a sturdy structure such as a table or desk.
  • In a vehicle If you spot a tornado in the distance go to the nearest solid shelter. If the tornado is close, get out of your car and take cover in a low-lying area, such as a ditch. Do not take shelter under an overpass or a bridge. Winds can accelerate under an overpass or a bridge and cause injury or death from flying debris.
  • In all cases, get as close to the ground as possible, protect your head and watch out for flying debris. Small objects such as sticks and straws can become lethal weapons when driven by a tornado's winds.


    Thunderstorms develop in an unstable atmosphere when warm, moist air near the earth's surface rises quickly and cools. The moisture condenses to form rain droplets and dark thunderclouds called cumulonimbus clouds. These storms are often accompanied by hail, lightning, high winds, heavy rain and tornadoes. Thunderstorms are usually over in an hour, although a series of thunderstorms can last for several hours.


The air is charged with electricity during a thunderstorm. The most striking sign of this is lightning. Bolts of lightning hit the ground at about 40,000 kilometers per second -- so fast that the lightning appears to be a single main bolt with a few forks, when actually the opposite is true. The main bolt is a whole series of lightning strikes, all taking the same path but at such a pace that the eye cannot distinguish between them.
To estimate how far away the lightning is, count the seconds between the flash of lightning and the thunderclap. Each second is about 300 meters. If you count fewer than 30 seconds, look around for shelter; if fewer than five seconds, take shelter urgently. Lightning is near and you do not want to be the tallest object in the area. It is recommended to wait 30 minutes after the last lightning strike in a severe storm before venturing outside again.

During a severe lighting storm

  • If you are in a building:
    • Stay there, but away from windows, doors, fireplaces, radiators, stoves, sinks, bathtubs, appliances, metal pipes, telephones and other materials which conduct electricity
    • Unplug TVs, radios, toasters and other electrical appliances.
    • Do not go out to rescue the laundry on the clothesline, as it conducts electricity.
    • Don't use the phone or other electrical equipment.(You can use a cellular telephone.)
  • If you are outside:
    • Seek shelter in a building, cave or in a depressed area such as a ditch or a culvert, but never under a tree.
    • If you're caught in the open, crouch down with your feet close together and your head down (the "leapfrog" position).
    • Don't lie flat -- by minimizing your contact with the ground, you reduce the risk of being electrocuted by a ground charge.
    • Keep away from telephone and power lines, fences, trees and hilltops.
    • Get off bicycles, motorcycles, tractors, and golf carts -- and don't use metal shovels and golf clubs -- as they conduct electricity.
  • If you are in a car, stay there but pull away from trees where heavy branches might fall on you.


Hail forms when updrafts in thunderclouds carry raindrops upwards into extremely cold areas of the atmosphere. The raindrops freeze and are bounced around in the powerful winds within thunderclouds while new layers of ice are added. Eventually, the hailstones grow too heavy to be supported by the updrafts and fall to the ground. Some hailstones are the size of peas while others can be as big as grapefruits.
Take cover when hail begins to fall. Do not go out to cover plants, cars or garden furniture or to rescue animals. Hail comes down at great speed, especially when accompanied by high winds. Although no one in Canada has ever been killed by hail, people have been seriously injured by it.


A heavy rainfall can result in flooding. This is particularly true when the ground is still frozen or already saturated from previous storms. Floods may also result if a heavy rain coincides with the spring thaw. If you know there is flooding or the possibility of flooding in your area, keep your radio on to find out what areas are flooded, what areas are likely to be flooded, as well as what roads are safe, where to go and what to do if the local emergency team asks you to leave your home.Generally speaking, it is a good idea to avoid driving through flooded roads and underpasses. The water may be a great deal deeper than it looks and you could get stuck. You may also want to avoid crossing bridges if the water is high and flowing quickly.


  • Turn off basement furnaces and the outside gas valve.
  • Shut off the electricity. If the area around the fuse box or circuit breaker is wet, stand on a dry board and shut off the power with a dry wooden stick.
  • Never try to cross a flooded area on foot. The fast water could sweep you away.
  • If you are in a car. Try not to drive through flood waters. Fast water could sweep your car away. However, if you are caught in fast-rising waters and your car stalls, leave it, and save yourself and your passengers.


  • Listen to your radio for information and follow instructions.
  • Give first aid to people who are injured or trapped. Get help, if necessary.
  • Unless you are asked to help or are qualified to give assistance, please stay away from damaged areas.
  • Do not go near loose or dangling power lines. Report them and any broken sewer and water mains to the authorities.
  • Lightning and downed power lines can cause fires. Report fires to the fire department. Know how to fight small fires.
  • Water supplies may be contaminated, so purify your water by boiling it for 10 minutes, by adding water-purification tablets or by adding one drop of unscented chlorine bleach to one liter of water (or three drops for cloudy water). If you use chlorine bleach to purify the water, stir the bleach in and wait 30 minutes before drinking. The water should have a slight chlorine smell.
  • Please leave the telephone lines free for official use. Do not use the telephone except in real emergencies.
  • Drive cautiously and only if necessary. Debris, broken power lines and washed-out or icy roads and bridges will make driving dangerous after a severe storm. Please give way to emergency vehicles at all times.
  • Finally, if the power has been off for several hours, check the food in the refrigerator and freezer in case it has spoiled.



  • If you are in a building: Stay inside. Stay away from windows. Get under a heavy desk or table and hang on. If you can't get under something strong, flatten yourself against an interior wall, protect your head and neck.
  • If you are outside: Go to an open area. Move away from buildings or any structure that could collapse. Stay away from power lines and downed electrical wires.
  • If you are in a car: Stop the car and stay in it. Avoid bridges, overpasses or underpasses, buildings or anything that could collapse on you and your car.


Hurricanes are violent tropical storms which blow up from the Caribbean and occasionally hit eastern Canada, usually between June and November, with September being the peak month. The east and west coasts, however, do get fall and winter storms which have hurricane-force winds. Hurricanes cause more widespread damage than tornadoes because they are bigger. Some are as large as 1,000 kilometers across.
If a hurricane warning has been issued and you live on the coast or in a low-lying area near the coast you are advised to move inland and to higher ground. The high winds create huge waves at sea which, when they reach the shore, may become tidal waves or storm surges.

  • Do not go down to the water to watch the storm. Most people who are killed during hurricanes are caught in large waves, storm surges or flood waters.
  • As a rule, hurricanes move slowly and batter communities for several hours. If the eye of the hurricane passes over, there will be a lull in the wind lasting from two or three minutes to half an hour.
  • Stay in a safe place.
  • Make emergency repairs only and remember that once the eye has passed over, the winds will return from the opposite direction -- with possibly even greater force.
  • Mobile homes: Owners and residents of mobile homes must take special care to protect themselves and their property in the event of storms.
    • Position your trailer near a natural windbreak such as a hill or clump of trees. As severe storms usually come in from the southwest, west or northwest, the narrow end of the trailer should face in a westerly direction to make a smaller target.
    • Make sure your trailer is securely anchored. Consult the manufacturer for information on secure tie-down systems.
    • Finally, when a severe storm approaches, you should still seek shelter in a more secure building. Trailers are the exception to the stay-indoors rule.