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Ice and Snow Protection

Canadians know that winter weather can be difficult to navigate. Be prepared for snow and ice with these helpful tips.

Winterize your home

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Blizzards. Freezing temperatures. Ice storms. The best way to minimize winter’s wrath is to prepare well in advance. Follow these precautions to winterize your home and help protect your property from ice and snow damage:

  • test and maintain smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms

  • ensure your furnace, wood stove and any other heating sources are inspected, maintained and cleaned

  • during the heating season, clean or replace furnace air filters each month

  • if you’re away for even a few days, leave the heat on and have someone check your home frequently

  • regularly run water through all plumbing fixtures, test plumbing shut-off valves and fit exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping to prevent freezing

  • inspect your attic for frost accumulation and check your eavestroughs and roof for potential ice dams or icicles

  • keep your sidewalk and front stairs clear of snow and ice – use salt, shovel and/or sand to keep walking surfaces clear within local bylaw timeframes

  • clear snow from your roof and deck to avoid potential collapse, or hire a professional to clear the snow

  • clear snow and ice well away from natural gas or propane meters, gas appliance vents, exhaust vents and basement window sills

  • trim branches that are close to your home

  • protect or move property that might be damaged by ice, snow or wind – park vehicles in a garage, if possible

Prepare for snow and ice on the roads

Here are simple actions you can take to help keep safe on winter roads:

  • drive according to the road conditions and heed warnings from Environment Canada’s local weather offices

  • ensure your car is maintained throughout the winter season:

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

    • 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 which will allow you to stop your vehicle 40% sooner than all-season tires and significantly improve handling

  • keep the gas tank topped up

  • always carry an emergency kit and include extra antifreeze, a flashlight, batteries, blankets, a candle and matches, hazard markers, a snow shovel, an ice scraper and brush, the phone number of a local towing company, sand, booster cables and food

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

  • bring a map or GPS and plan an alternative route

  • carry a phone and charger

Avoid ice hazards

Whether you’re taking part in winter activities or travelling on winter roads, take caution when you encounter ice. Let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return as well as:

  • use designated and maintained ice surfaces – such as ponds or rinks – for activities such as skating

  • measure ice thickness in several locations – know that white ice has air or snow in it and should be considered suspect for recreational use

  • stay off river ice and avoid narrows between lakes – moving water can cause ice thickness to be unpredictable and much thinner

  • always supervise children who are playing on or near ice

  • never go onto ice alone – a companion may be able to rescue you or find help if you get into difficulty

  • avoid ATV'ing or snowmobiling on ice at night when there is reduced visibility or when it’s snowing

  • wear a thermal protection buoyant suit or a lifejacket over your snowmobile suit or layered winter clothing to increase survival chances if you go through ice

  • pack safety equipment such as ice picks, a rope and a small personal safety kit – such as a pocketknife, compass, whistle, fire starter kit and cellphone – in your pockets or backpack