One-year anniversary of Ontario ice storm: How to prepare for severe weather

December 22nd, 2014 by admin

Just about one year ago, on December 21, 2013, Ontario was hit with a horrible ice storm. Southern Ontario, including the Greater Toronto Area, along with Ottawa and Windsor, were hit with heavy rain, freezing rain and snow, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) reports. While forecasters had warned of freezing rain, few had foreseen the exact scope of damage the storm ended up bringing. The Star reports that the storm knocked out power for days, and fallen trees and wires made road travel impossible for many. CHCH writes that homeowners from Toronto to St. Catharines were left without hydro. In light of last year's storm, the IBC is reminding Canadians that extreme weather events are becoming more common and emphasizing the importance of preparedness.

"Last year, emergency workers, utility employees, insurers and volunteers worked around the clock on storm recovery efforts. But the storm still took a serious toll on families and communities," said Ralph Palumbo, Vice-President, Ontario, IBC. "As we look back, we remember how communities and people came together to help one another, but we also remember key lessons that were learned including the benefits of emergency preparedness planning." 

The damage from the 2013 ice storm was extensive, resulting in more than $200 million in insured losses. It increased insured losses for the year to $3.4 billion. Flooding, ice storms, snowstorms and tornadoes have all become more common in recent years. The Bureau emphasizes that emergency preparedness measures are important both for governments and corporations, but also for families and communities.

"As we look back on the effects of last year's ice storm, we are reminded that it is important to take a few minutes to go over emergency preparations with your families and neighbours. By ensuring you have an emergency plan, a well-equipped emergency kit, a home inventory and a well-secured home, you can help keep your loved ones safe and properties secure when extreme weather hits," Palumbo said.

Here are the IBC's 10 ice safety tips:

  • Use designated ice surfaces. As the Bureau explains, communities often have designated ponds or outdoor ice surfaces, intended for activities such as skating. These areas are also maintained by knowledgeable personnel. It is important for designated ice to be regularly tested to ensure that it is both thick enough and strong enough for recreational use.
  • Measure ice thickness in several locations.
  • Avoid travelling on ice at night or when it is snowing.
  • Never go onto ice alone.
  • Stay off river ice and avoid the narrows between lakes.
  • Wear a thermal protection buoyant suit or a lifejacket.
  • Take safety equipment with you.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Don't drive on ice if you can avoid it. If you can't avoid it, have an escape plan.
  • Always supervise children playing on or near ice.

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