Preparing for a Winter Storm

Father and son preparing for a winter storm

Winter is coming, which means we should expect and prepare for colder temperatures and an increased risk of heavy snow and ice storms in the coming months. It’s recommended to prepare for winter storms at milder times of the year.

Hailstorms, snow, ice and extreme cold can be dangerous and potentially cause significant damage to your vehicle and your home. While you can’t stop a storm from coming, you can often take steps to help reduce the amount of damage it causes.

Here’s a list of tips to help prepare for a winter storm.

Before Winter

  • Get your mind in the gutter. Eavestroughs and downspouts should be properly fastened as the weight from snow and ice can pull them off your house. Take the time to clear gutters of debris and ensure downspouts extend away from your home to prevent flooding and water damage when the snow finally melts!
  • Tend to trees. Trim tree branches that are too close to your home and ensure trees and shrubs are well away from your home and windows. Heavy snowfalls and icy conditions can cause branches to break and cause damage to your home. Consider hiring a professional to assess the risk to your home.
  • Pipes and outdoor faucets. Pipes, especially those located outside your home, are prone to freezing during winter. Make sure you shut off the water valve to outside faucets, then drain and disconnect the hoses to decrease the chances of them freezing. Burst pipes can cause damage and expensive repairs inside and outside your home.

When the Snow Falls

  • Clear walking areas. We all know how intense a Canadian winter can be, and as a homeowner, among your responsibilities is to clear away any snow or ice build-up on public sidewalks and walking areas around your property. When you’re shovelling your driveway, don’t push the snow onto the road, as this can cause a safety hazard and interrupt snow cleaning operations. It’s also against the law in many cities. Check with your town or city’s bylaws for snow and ice removal requirements.
  • Watch for ice build-up. During the winter, large masses of ice can collect on the lower edge of your roof or gutter, often called an ice dam, and may cause damage to your home. If you suspect you have an ice dam, a roof rake (or push broom with stiff bristles) can be used to help remove snow off flat and low-sloped roofs safely from the ground. This might help reduce the severity of the ice dam. Consider contacting a roofing professional to assess your options. And for more information about icicles, ice dams and your roof, check out this article here.

In the Home

  • Check the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. Carbon monoxide is a potentially deadly gas that is colourless, odourless and tasteless. During the winter, there are appliances that you may use that burn fuel (e.g. furnaces, gas stoves) and produce carbon monoxide. Check the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure that they are in good working order. For additional tips, be sure to check out our Essential Guide to Carbon Monoxide Safety article.
  • Develop an emergency preparedness plan. Anything can happen during winter storms, excessive rain, power outages, flooding, etc. Therefore, it’s important to spend some time with your family developing an emergency preparedness plan, assemble a kit of essentials and ensure everyone knows what to do in an emergency. For more details about what to pack in your emergency kit, check out our article here.

To learn more about preparing the inside of your home for the winter, check out this article here.

This information has been provided for your convenience only and should not be construed as providing legal or insurance advice.