Winter Storm Preparedness and Safety Tips

Emergency Management BC is encouraging British Columbians to prepare for severe storms

  • Dec. 4, 2015 12:00 p.m.

Near hurricane force winds, Arctic outbreaks and heavy rains are three severe weather patterns typically experienced in British Columbia in the late fall and winter.

They can result in downed electrical lines and power outages, flooding, landslides and hazardous driving conditions.

With inclement weather and storms in the forecast for many parts of the province this weekend, Emergency Management BC is encouraging British Columbians to prepare for severe storms by following these tips from PreparedBC, and partners such as BC Hydro, FortisBC, Environment Canada and DriveBC.


General Storm Readiness Tips


  • Get storm ready. Ensure your home emergency kit is refreshed and can support you and your family for a minimum of 72 hours without power or heat.
  • Do not go near dangling power lines. Report them to the power company.
  • Report any broken sewer lines or water mains to your local authority.
  • Drive cautiously and only if necessary. Debris, downed power lines or damaged roads will make driving dangerous. Ensure you have a winter emergency kit for your vehicle.
  • Police, fire, ambulance and local emergency authorities work to ensure public safety. If ordered to evacuate, do so. And take your grab and go emergency kit with you.
  • Utility providers and city crews will work as quickly as possible to restore services.
  • Leave phone lines free for emergency use. Call 9-1-1 if there is danger of serious injury.
  • Winter weather can mean unexpected surprises. Before the lights go out, create a preparedness plan for your family and visit Emergency Info BC.


Flood Safety Tips


  • Make sure to store your family emergency kit in an easily accessible area that’s not in a basement and off the floor.
  • Check perimeter drains around your property and ensure they are clear of debris.
  • Avoid river and stream banks. What looks like stable ground can be eroded beneath and give way without warning. Keep children and pets away from stream banks.
  • Drive carefully and never attempt to drive through floodwater. If a car stalls in floodwater, get out quickly and move to higher ground. Two feet of water can carry away most vehicles, including SUVs and pickup trucks.
  • Always obey emergency officials who are involved in rescue or flood control operations, including those directing traffic and those issuing evacuation alerts and/or orders.
  • If ordered to leave, take your emergency kit and lock the door. If there’s time, move essential items off the floor to an elevated location.
  • If instructed, turn off utilities at main switches or valves. DO NOT touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
  • Stay out of moving water and never walk through it. Even six inches of moving water can make you fall and because of dangerous debris beneath the surface or strong currents, it can put you at risk of drowning.
  • To report severe flooding in your area, contact your local municipal government.




  • Heavy rainfall increases the chance of landslides and flash flooding. If you live down slope from a potential slide area, listen for unusual sounds that might indicate moving debris, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together.
  • If you are near a stream or channel, be alert for any sudden increase or decrease in water flow and notice whether the water changes from clear to muddy. Such changes may mean there is debris flow activity upstream so be prepared to move quickly.
  • Stay well away from the path of a landslide or debris flow. If necessary, run perpendicular, not downward from the flow.
  • If you receive an evacuation order, leave the area immediately. Failing to leave when instructed can endanger both you and the lives of first-responders.


After a landslide


  • Stay away from the slide area, there may be danger of additional slides. Do not return until notified by local emergency officials that it is safe to return.
  • Watch for flooding, including new fountains or waterfalls or blocked culverts which may occur after a landslide or debris flow.
  • Look for and report broken utility lines and damaged roadways and railways to appropriate authorities. Reporting potential hazards will get the utilities turned off as quickly as possible, preventing further hazard and injury.


Learn More


Emergency Management BC works year-round with local governments to prepare for emergencies. For more information on how you and your family can get prepared, visit


  • Household preparedness guide.
  • Household emergency plan.


More detailed preparedness and safety information on:



The B.C. River Forecast Centre provides information about streamflow levels, as well as flood warning and watches.

Find Environment Canada weather alerts online.

Learn about electrical safety during natural disasters from BC Hydro.

Learn about natural gas safety from FortisBC.

Before you head out on the roads this winter, visit Drive BC.

Remember to “Shift into Winter.”