Be prepared for summer weather
Information on how to stay safe during severe weather events in the summer.
By knowing what to expect and how to prepare for it, you will be able to protect yourself, your family and your property from summer weather hazards and damage.
Having a storm readiness plan in place saves valuable time if severe weather strikes. Take the opportunity now to choose the best shelter in your home and office, and make sure your family and colleagues know where each is. Choose a meeting place to gather after the storm to ensure that everyone is safe and accounted for.
Maintain an emergency pack with a battery-powered flashlight, a radio (preferably with Weatheradio capability), tools for emergency repair, food supplies, a first aid kit, blankets and extra clothing. Keep your car gas tank full, in case gas stations close down during or after a storm. When a warning is issued, stay calm and follow your plan.
When there is a threat of high winds, as in the case of a severe thunderstorm or tornado, your first priority is to take shelter. If it is safe to do so, bring livestock and/or pets indoors, close all windows and doors, and secure loose outdoor objects or move them inside.
Go to the basement or to a small interior room in the centre of the house, such as a closet, bathroom or hallway, on the lowest floor of the building. If this is not an option, take cover under a stairway or sturdy table and use a cushion or mattress to protect your head. Stay away from all windows, doors and exterior walls, in particular those facing the storm. Avoid buildings with large, unsupported roofs such as arenas, supermarkets, and barns. If you are boating or swimming, head for land immediately.
Do not travel. If you are in your car, open the windows slightly and park off the road with your brakes set, away from tall objects and power lines. Do not leave your car if there are downed lines nearby. In the event of a tornado, abandon your vehicle and move at a right angle to the storm’s path. If this is not possible, find a low-lying area, such as a ditch, and lie flat. Hang onto a small tree or shrub if you can.
The type of alert used depends on the severity and timing of the event:
- Urgent message that severe weather is either occurring or will occur
- Updated regularly so that you can stay informed and take appropriate action
- Alerts you about weather conditions where there is potential for a significant storm or severe weather to occur
- A Watch may upgrade to a Warning as certainty increases about the path and strength of a storm system
- Issued for specific weather events that are less severe, but could still significantly affect Canadians
- Special Weather Statement
- The least urgent type of alert
- Issued to let you know that conditions are unusual and could cause concern
- They provide notice of what weather may be coming
Different weather patterns can bring different types of threats or hazards to solicit the above types of alerts. Environment and Climate Change Canada issues over 20 different types of alerts for the various weather hazards that occur across the country.
Play it safe
Outdoors, we are especially vulnerable to severe weather conditions in nature or in open areas. When enjoying outdoor sports or activities like camping, hiking, water sports, team sports, fishing, climbing, biking or even walking, we need to know the weather forecast and be aware of the possibility of a storm developing. We should also be able to recognize the early signs of bad weather and know how to protect ourselves. If the sky darkens suddenly, seek shelter as soon as possible.
Lightning is the most common danger associated with storms. Lightning is an electrical discharge that can reach 10 000 amperes, striking the ground at about 40 000 kilometres per second. It always seeks the easiest path to the ground. As soon as you see lightning or hear thunder, you should find shelter. Storms also generate very strong winds, hail, heavy rain, and sometimes even tornadoes.
To be safe outdoors, you must be familiar with your immediate environment and the surrounding area. By marking safe locations to take cover, you will be able to find shelter fast if the sky darkens and you notice thunder and lightning. Do not forget that a storm can develop very quickly and you need to be able to take cover in as little as 30 minutes.
Practical advice in case of bad weather
Storm, lightning, strong winds, hail, tornado
- If you are in a tent or camper, take cover in a building such as a comfort station, washroom or community hall, or get into a hardtop vehicle
- If there is no building close by, crouch down in a ditch or other low-lying area and cover your head with your arms
- In the event of a tornado, leave your car immediately as the violent wind could easily flip it over
- If there is no sturdy building nearby to protect you, lie flat in a ditch, ravine or other depressed area, and protect your head with your arms
- Beware of flying debris
- If you are in the water or on a boat, return to shore at the first sign of bad weather and take cover
- Wait for 30 minutes after the storm has passed before returning to an open area or to the water
Heavy rain, flash flooding
- Do not camp too close to streams or rivers because heavy rain may cause the water level to rise quickly
- Never cross flooded streams or rivers because the undercurrents can carry you downstream
- In the event of a flash flood, head to higher ground immediately
Learn to be safe
To better enjoy outdoor activities and to be able to protect yourself, you should keep informed of the latest weather reports and warnings in effect issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada. Various tools provide access to this information anytime, anywhere, even along your route.
The weather forecast and warnings from Environment and Climate Change Canada are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on its weather website, where you can subscribe to the RSS service. In addition to being available from the local media, you can obtain local weather conditions using a hotline for recorded information in your area. You can also contact an Environment and Climate Change Canada expert seven days a week at the weather consultation service Weather One-on-One: 1-900-565-5555 (charges apply).
The Weatheradio Canada network broadcasts continuous weather reports on seven VHF frequencies at 162 MHz. The signal can be picked up by Weatheradio receivers, which are available for purchase from several retailers in Canada. At selected locations, low power broadcasts are transmitted on the regular FM or AM band. A Weatheradio receiver is not required to hear these broadcasts. For more information, visit the Weatheradio website.
For more information on hazardous weather conditions and how to protect yourself, visit the Environment and Climate Change Canada website.
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