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Photo of a car buried in snow

Don’t let a winter storm catch you off guard! During the winter months, check for winter weather alerts and warnings before you go to bed. Always be prepared for cold weather.

Prepare your home:

  • Plan ahead by preparing your home for cold weather. Make sure your heating system is working well and seal all cracks and drafts.
  • Ensure you have a secondary heat source in case of a power interruption. To reduce the risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning, never use barbecues, gas heaters, or portable generators indoors for cooking or heat source. Instead, look for heaters that are rated as indoor-safe or bundle up with blankets and coats.
  • Have a 72 hour emergency kit and make a family emergency plan. If stranded inside your home, stay calm, stay warm and stay put.
  • If you have to leave your house during a winter storm, make sure your vehicle is prepared.

Prepare your vehicle:

  • Properly service your vehicle prior to winter and ensure it has quality winter tires
  • Stock your vehicle with a shovel, gravel or sand, sleeping bag, candles, matches, high-energy snacks, spare socks, mittens and hats, blanket, and bright colour cloth to signal for assistance.

If you become stranded in your vehicle:

  • Stay calm. Do not leave your vehicle until someone arrives to assist you.
  • Tie a bright coloured cloth or distress flag to your side mirror
  • Take steps to stay warm. Remove any wet clothing. Wrap yourself in a sleeping bag or blanket. Wear a hat and mittens. If two or more people are in the vehicle, sit together in the back seat to share body heat.
  • If you must, run your vehicle intermittently on low, until your fuel runs out. Keep a window open slightly for circulation while the vehicle is running to prevent carbon monoxide build up.

Extreme Cold

Cold weather can be harmful to your health. While the health risks related to cold are higher for certain groups (such as people who work outdoors, people with pre-existing heart conditions or respiratory illnesses, older adults, infants, young children, and those who are experiencing homelessness), everyone is potentially at risk. Fortunately, most cold-related injuries can be prevented or treated if you are aware of the risks, signs, and symptoms.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit issues cold warnings to inform residents of extreme cold events with the Stay Warm Windsor-Essex program. Cold warnings are issued to residents when our area experiences extreme temperatures during the months of November to April.

Visit our Stay Warm section to find more information about protecting yourself and your family during extreme cold.