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Canadian winters are tough. From coast-to-coast we all need to be prepared for winter’s wrath. Follow these tips to help stay safe when the temperature drops.

Winterize your home

High winds, significant snowfall and freezing rain are examples of winter weather that can be damaging to your home. Help protect your property by taking these simple steps:

  1. Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on each level of your home and regularly test them

  2. Ensure your furnace, wood stove and any other heating sources are in good working condition. Have them inspected, maintained and serviced. During the heating season, clean or replace furnace air filters each month

  3. If you go on vacation during the heating season, even for a few days, leave the heat on and have someone you trust check on your home while you are away. Failing to do so can affect your coverage

  4. Run water through all plumbing fixtures regularly to avoid freezing

  5. Know where plumbing shut-off valves are located so you can shut off the water if a pipe were to freeze and burst

  6. Inspect your attic for frost accumulation and check your eavestroughs and roof for potential ice dams or icicles

  7. Keep the sidewalk and the front of your home clear of snow and ice

  8. Keep snow away from gas meters, gas appliance vents, exhaust vents and basement windows

  9. Detach garden hoses and trim branches near your home

  10. Prevent freezing of pipes by fitting exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping

Slips, trips and falls

Whether you're driving or walking on slippery surfaces, make sure to keep these tips in mind to avoid potential ice hazards. Regular maintenance is essential – especially during the colder months.

  • Use salt, shovel and/or sand to keep walking surfaces clear of ice and snow

  • In some places a bylaw requires you to clear sidewalks in front of your property

  • Wear sturdy footwear with good grip and put a non-slip covering over slippery surfaces

  • Repair or replace loose and missing stair handrails

  • Be aware that black ice can look like wet pavement

  • Ensuring all areas are adequately lit

Learn more about how to manage risks at home

Winter driving

Regardless of where you live or your experience level, winter driving can be challenging. To help ensure a safe drive, keep these simple precautions in mind before you hit the road.

  • Drive according to the road conditions

    • Follow warnings from Environment Canada’s local weather offices

  • Maintain your car

    • Check your vehicle’s battery, belts, hoses, radiator, coolant/antifreeze, oil, lights, brakes, exhaust system, heater/defroster, ignition system and tires regularly

    • Check the wipers regularly and carry an extra jug of windshield-washer fluid in your vehicle

    • Inspect the tires and check the tire pressure at least once a month in cold weather

  • Install four winter tires

    • Winter tires allow you to stop up to 40% sooner than all-season tires and significantly improve your vehicle’s handling in winter weather

    • In some provinces it is required by law

  • Keep the gas tank topped up

  • Always carry an emergency kit

    • Include a flashlight, batteries, blankets, a candle, matches/lighter, hazard markers/flares, a snow shovel, an ice scraper and brush, the phone number of a local towing company, sand, booster cables and even food

  • Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to arrive

  • Bring a map or GPS and have an alternative route planned

  • Carry a charged cell phone and have a charger in your car