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How to stay safe during an ice storm

When raindrops fall through a cold layer of air onto surfaces below 0⁰ C, it creates the perfect storm: freezing rain. Although ice covered tree branches can look pretty, most Canadians know how dangerous an ice storm can be. Ice storms can cause car accidents, nasty falls and power outages from fallen tree branches.
Here are a few tips to help keep you and your family safe when an ice storm is in the forecast.

1.    Put on your winter tires

Winter tires handle cold temperatures and slick surfaces much better than all-season tires or summer tires. Once the temperature falls below 7⁰ C, you should switch to winter tires; in Ontario this is typically mid-October to early November.1  Winter tires don’t make you invincible, however — it’s still best to avoid driving during a storm if possible.

2.    Stock up on de-icing products

Right after an ice storm, salt, sand and other de-icing products tend to fly off the shelves. Make sure you have plenty on hand before the storm hits so you’re prepared to clear your sidewalk and driveway. 

3.    Prepare your emergency kits

For your car, you should have a winter emergency kit in case you get stuck and must wait for help. The kit should include items such as food, water, flashlight, warm clothes and a first aid kit — see the full list of 10 items you need in your car emergency kit.  

You should also have a winter emergency kit in your home. If you can’t leave the house and the power goes out, you’ll need three days’ worth of supplies for each family member, including pets. Your kit should include food, medicine, a manual can opener, a radio, bottled water, warm clothing, blankets, first aid kit, portable cell phone charger, flashlight and extra batteries, candles, matches or a lighter, cash and a list of your emergency contacts. 

4.    Fill up your car’s gas tank

If gas stations lose electricity, they may not be able to power their pumps. Fill up on gas before the storm hits so you can get around in an emergency.

5.    Have a safe alternative heat source

Using a heater that’s made to be used outdoors inside your home can put you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Never use a camp stove, charcoal barbeque, gas generator, outdoor camping heater or similar devices inside. Instead, use a fireplace, woodburning stove, alcohol heater or a propane heater rated for indoor use to keep one room warm in your house.2

6.    Keep your fridge cold

Your fridge and freezer can stay cold for hours without power if the doors are left closed but will slowly warm up over time. Before the storm hits, freeze containers of water, put them near your perishable foods to keep them cold and turn down the temperature of your fridge and freezer. If a power outage happens assess if you need to throw out your perishable foods using the Canadian government’s guidelines after the power is restored. 

7.    Review your insurance policy

If all the food in your fridge and freezer spoils or if a tree branch falls onto your roof, you’ll want to have insurance coverage to help cover the cost of replacement or repairs. Review your insurance policy to make sure it includes the coverage you need. 

Call your broker today to review your OTIP home insurance policy at 1-800-267-6847. If you want to get a home insurance quote from OTIP, call 1-866-561-5559.

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1.    Canada Drives 
2.    The Provident Prepper 

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