Hurricanes can be as large as 1,000 kilometres across.*
Hurricanes pose a serious risk to people and property. If a hurricane is approaching, please follow the guidance for your local area, and call 911 in case of emergency.
Hurricanes bring sustained winds of at least 119 km/h, enough to cause major damage to your home, car and other belongings. Communities closest to the Atlantic Ocean are at the greatest risk of hurricanes. Eastern Canada’s hurricane season runs from June to November, and it’s wise to prepare well before the season hits. These tips will help.
- Pay attention to local weather reports. A hurricane watch is issued any time hurricane conditions are possible in your area. If the hurricane watch becomes a warning, a hurricane can be expected within 24 hours, and you will need to take shelter or evacuate your home.
- Stormproof your roof. The roof is where the exterior of your home is most vulnerable to hurricane damage. Strong winds create uplift that can cause shingles — or even the whole roof — to literally “take off” from the rest of the building. The best protection is to keep your roof in good condition. An asphalt-shingled roof can last anywhere from 15 to 30 years. If you think your roof might need repairs or replacement, don’t delay. To keep water from pooling around your roof, clear your eavestroughs of any debris and install gutter covers to keep them clean.
- Secure your windows, doors and vents. For maximum protection, your doors should be pressure- and impact-rated. Double doors should be secured with a heavy-duty bolt, or with slide bolts at the top and bottom of the inactive door. Attic vents should be sealed before a storm to close off entry points for water. Install shutters to protect your windows from flying debris. And to prevent injury or damage from broken glass, apply anti-shatter weather protection film to the inside surface of your windows.
- Protect your garage. Your garage door is an easy point of entry for hurricane winds. To strengthen the door, you can install garage-door braces. Do-it-yourself kits are available at your home-improvement store.
- Safeguard your car. Cars are especially vulnerable to damage from high winds, flying debris and flood waters. Park your car in a garage if possible. If you don’t have a garage, try to park away from trees or power lines. Parking your car close to a building will provide at least partial protection from the wind. Before the storm hits, fill your gas tank so that you’ll be ready to leave quickly if necessary. Keep copies of your car’s insurance and registration documents in a waterproof container as part of your family’s emergency kit (see below). If you know a storm is coming, it’s a good idea to take pictures of your car beforehand. Should you need to make an insurance claim later, this will help to speed up the claims process.
- Keep your yard tidy. Falling trees can cause serious damage, so keep an eye on your trees, and remove any unhealthy branches that might break off in a storm. In your garden, replace gravel or stone with wood chips, which are much less likely to cause damage in high winds.
- Put away loose items. Even heavy items like barbecues and patio furniture can take flight in heavy winds. The same is true of lighter items such as garbage cans, recycling bins, bicycles and toys. Store them away or otherwise do your best to secure and protect them before a windstorm.
- Keep an emergency kit handy. A storm might knock out power and water, and could leave your family isolated for hours or even days. That’s why it‘s important to make sure you have an emergency kit ready. The kit should include items like 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.
- Stay indoors. To protect yourself and your family, keep away from windows and glass doors. Close all curtains and blinds.
- Close all interior doors. Make sure outside doors are secured and braced.
- Don’t be fooled by a lull in the storm. If you’re in the eye of the hurricane, the winds will pick up again.
- Stay on the lowest level. Gather everyone in your household in a small interior room, closet or hallway. If no such room is available, lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
- Stay safe. Keep listening to the radio, TV or trusted social media sites for information. Turn off any propane tanks, and avoid using your landline if it’s not an emergency.
- Turn your fridge to its coldest setting. Open its doors as infrequently as possible. This will help to safeguard your food in the event you lose power.
- Fill your tub with water. You might need it for drinking, for personal hygiene and for flushing toilets.