Heavy snow in Canada: What you can do

In most parts of Canada, snowstorms are a predictable part of winter. When the snowfall gets especially heavy, both your home and your driving can be at risk. But with some advance planning, you can reduce that risk and increase your chances of safely weathering the storm.

What should you do before heavy snow?

  • Prepare your home. Before a snowstorm hits, stock up on de-icing salt and sprinkle some on your sidewalk and driveway. (This will make shoveling easier after the storm.) If you have a snowblower, ensure it's in good working order by starting it up before the heavy snow arrives. You can also prepare your shovel by spraying non-stick cooking spray on the blade so that the snow will slide off easily when it’s time to start shoveling.

    A severe storm might knock out power and water, and could leave your family isolated at home for hours or even days. Make sure you have an emergency kit ready. The kit should include bottled water, non-perishable food, flashlights, a battery-powered radio, fresh batteries, personal hygiene items and a first aid kit. You’ll also need a waterproof container to hold cash and credit cards, along with your household’s important documents: insurance policies, medical information, identification and contact information. For more advice on preparing your emergency kit, please click here.
  • Prepare your car. Make sure you have a snow brush and ice scraper in your car at all times. Also, bear in mind that all-season tires aren’t designed for Canadian winters. Winter-rated tires will give you better traction in snow and ice. In some parts of Canada, winter tires are mandatory.

    In case you get stranded in the snow, keep an emergency kit ready in your car (as well as in your home). Some of the items that belong in the kit include first-aid items, non-perishable snacks, drinking water, a shovel, warm clothing, a blanket, jumper cables, a reflective triangle, a flashlight, extra batteries, a car charger for your phone and cat litter for traction.

What can you do during heavy snow?

  • Stay indoors. Home is the safest place to be in a snowstorm. Your excellent driving skills can’t protect you against another driver’s mistakes.

What should you do after heavy snow?

For your home:
  • Act quickly when the storm ends. After the storm, you’ll want to safeguard your home from the damage that snow and ice can cause. Safely removing ice and snow from your roof is a job best left to professionals. You should call them if you see a buildup of more than an inch and a half (about 4 cm) of ice. As for snow, it should be cleared off if there’s more than 18 inches (about 45 cm). A two-inch layer of snow should be left in place to ensure that you don’t damage your shingles.
  • Be ready for when the snow melts. Water from melting snow and ice can cause serious damage to your home. If you see icicles hanging from your eaves, take action. They could be a sign of ice dams, which block water from draining off your roof. When that happens, the water will be forced back inside your house, and structural damage might be the result.
  • Watch out for water damage. As the snow begins to melt, be alert to signs that water is seeping into your home. Blistering paint or wallpaper is one sign, as are water stains and rings. Signs of more serious structural damage include wall cracks, warped ceilings, unusual creaking noises and interior doors that no longer close properly.
For your car:
  • Drive slowly. If you must drive in heavy snow, bear in mind that speeding is the leading cause of winter crashes. Slow down, and drive at a consistent, safe speed. Driving slowly means you’re less likely to need to slam on your brakes, and thus less likely to slide and lose control.
  • Keep your distance. In snowy conditions, other drivers can pose a real hazard — they might be driving too fast or driving on summer tires. Give yourself more time to react by leaving plenty of room between you and the driver ahead. Let aggressive drivers pass you.
  • Keep your car clear of ice and snow. Before you set out, clear all the ice and snow off your car. And don’t forget the roof. Melting snow can slide off the roof and block your windshield, or it can fly off and blind the driver behind you. In some provinces, failing to clear the roof of your car is a fineable offence.

Readying an insurance claim or just looking for solutions following heavy snow? We’re ready to talk to you.

You can reach one of our helpful TD Insurance Claims Advisors by dialing 1-866-848-9744, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Depending on the circumstances and subject to your policy's coverage, we may be able to dispatch emergency services to provide solutions to mitigate further damage and put your safety first.

Our TD Insurance Customer Advice Centers are also available to answer your insurance coverage questions. For existing TD MyInsurance customers, login and chat securely with one of our Advisors.

Alternatively, you can call us at 1-877-777-7136, Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.