Severe storms include thunderstorms, hail, blizzards, ice storms, high winds and heavy rain. These weather conditions can develop quickly and may pose a threat to life and property. Severe storms occur in all regions of Canada and in all seasons.
Know what to do in case of a power outage. Visit our Power Outage page for more information.
Before a severe storm
- Remove dead or rotting branches and trees from your property.
- Improve the drainage around your home to reduce the risk of basement flooding after a heavy rain.
- Develop an emergency plan so every member of your household knows what to do in the event of severe weather. Make sure you have an emergency kit ready for your home and vehicle.
- Stay informed – be aware of extreme weather conditions. Check the Government of Canada’s Weather Office - Public Alerts website.
- If severe weather is forecast, 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.
- Always check the marine forecast before leaving for a day of boating and listen to weather reports during your cruise. Visit the Safe Boating page for information on how to stay safe while out on the water.
During a severe storm
- If indoors, stay away from windows, doors and fireplaces. If required, go to the sheltered area identified in your emergency plan. Don’t use a landline telephone.
- If in a car, stop and park away from trees or power lines that could fall on you. Unless shelter is close by, stay in your car.
- If on the water and you see bad weather approaching, head for shore immediately.
- If on a farm, secure your home, and move animals to shelter with access to food and water.
During a blizzard:
- When a winter storm hits, stay indoors. If you must go outside, dress for the weather to avoid cold weather illnesses and hypothermia.
- Don’t try to walk to another building unless there is a rope to guide you or something you can follow.
- If you must travel during a winter storm, go during the day and let others know your route and arrival time.
- If your car gets stuck, remain calm and stay in the vehicle. Open the window a small amount to allow fresh air in on the sheltered side away from the wind. You can run the car engine about 10 minutes every half-hour if the exhaust system is working well and the exhaust pipe is not blocked with snow. If blocked, potentially fatal carbon monoxide could enter the car.
- Keep your hands and feet warm by exercising them periodically. Keep moving to avoid falling asleep. Use caution if attempting to shovel out the car from the snow.
- When a hailstorm hits, find shelter and avoid underpasses or any low-lying areas that may flood.
- Stay indoors, and keep people and your pets away from windows, glass doors and skylights which can shatter if hit by large hailstones.
- If required, go to the sheltered area identified in your emergency plan.
During an ice storm:
- Stay indoors. Exposure to freezing rain and blizzard conditions can increase the risk of hypothermia.
- Avoid driving. Even a small amount of freezing rain can make roads extremely slippery.
- Heavy ice can accumulate on branches, power lines and buildings. Use caution if outside. Be aware that branches and power lines can continue to break for several hours or days after an ice storm.
- Never touch power lines. A hanging power line could be charged and will put you at risk for electrocution.
During a thunderstorm:
- Don’t ride bicycles, motorcycles, tractors, golf carts or use metal shovels or golf clubs.
- If you can see lightning or hear thunder, seek shelter immediately in a building or hard-topped vehicle.
- Stay away from items that conduct electricity such as landline telephones, appliances, sinks, bathtubs, radiators and metal pipes.
- Unplug radios and televisions. Listen for weather updates on your battery-powered or crank radio.
- Don’t go outside until 30 minutes after the last lightning strike.
- If you are caught in the open, don’t lie flat. Crouch down with your feet close together, wrap your arms around your legs and keep your head down. Never go under a tree. Look for a ditch, culvert or cave.
During a severe storm, you may also experience:
After a severe storm
Inspect your home
Make sure that your home is structurally safe. Look for buckled walls or floors, holes in the floor, broken glass and other potentially dangerous debris. If there is damage to your home, vehicle or other property as a result of severe weather, check with your insurance provider to determine your coverage.
Prepare for the next time
Refill your emergency kit and update your household emergency plan, if needed.
Visit the Emergency Management Ontario website, the Federal Government's Get Prepared website, and the Halton Region website.
Visit the Climate Change Adaptation Initiative page to review the Town of Oakville Climate Change Primer.
Visit the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction's YouTube channel for videos on preventing basement flooding.