Personal Preparedness Tips For Emergencies

Being prepared for emergencies can significantly reduce damage inflicted on your property. With the associated risks of flooded basements and power failures, residents should be ready to be self-sufficient for at least three days. This may mean providing for your own shelter, first aid, food, water and sanitation.

As part of emergency planning, all Toronto residents should have a three-day supply on hand for each family member of the following items:

  • Ensure you have critical medications on hand.
  • Drinking water (keep water in containers and fill your bathtub)
  • Canned food and a manual can opener
  • Batteries for flashlights and radios
  • A first aid kit
  • Gasoline for your car
  • A transistor radio
  • Cash
Residents are reminded to:
  • Keep cell phone batteries charged
  • Know the locations of all electrical panels, and water and gas shutoff valves in your home
  • Keep flashlights where you can find them in the dark
  • Consider using surge protectors to protect sensitive electronic equipment
  • Try to keep children and pets indoors and consider working from home
  • When shovelling or clearing ice, residents are reminded not to over-exert themselves
  • Please do not push snow back out onto the roadway.
  • Please offer to help elderly neighbours or those individuals who may need some assistance
Safety on the road:
  • Toronto Transportation has cleared and salted all main roads
  • Avoid driving if possible and exercise caution when you must do so
  • Please be very careful and watch for any debris especially tree branches that may be on the roadway
  • If traffic signals are out, treat the affected intersections as a four-way stop
  • Call 311 to report  non-working traffic signals
  • Pedestrians should exercise caution as sidewalks are very slippery
  •  Residents can assist by cleaning catch basins in front of their house to help water run off the roads and reduce the risk of flooded streets.
During a power outage:
  • Exercise extreme caution when using candles
  • Unplug or turn off all appliances to avoid possible damage when power resumes
  • Turn off water to the clothes washer and dishwasher if they are in use when the power goes out
  • Leave a light or radio on so you will know when power is restored
  • When power has been restored, check all fuses to ensure that none have been blown, before calling Toronto Hydro
  • Plug in only the most essential appliances first, and wait 10 to 15 minutes to give the electrical system time to stabilize before connecting everything else.
How to report a power outage or power lines down:
  • Call Toronto Hydro-Electric System’s Lights Out number at 416-542-8000 for serious situations only.  Call volumes continue to be very high; please be patient and keep the lines open for serious occurrences.
After power is restored, try to limit electricity use to help relieve potential strain on the system. Energy conservation tips include:
  • Turning off all non-essential internal and external lights
  • Limiting the use of major power-consuming equipment such as dishwashers, washers and dryers
Food Safety:

During a power outage, food kept in the refrigerator or freezer may become unsafe to eat. The following tips can help ensure food is stored safely in the event of a power outage:

  • Keep your refrigerator door closed to maintain the temperature inside. Without power, the refrigerator section will keep foods cool for four to six hours – if the door is kept closed.
  • Throw out perishable foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and leftovers that have been at temperatures above 4°C for more than two hours.
  • Keep your freezer door closed to maintain the temperature inside. Without power, an upright or chest freezer that is completely full will keep food frozen for about 48 hours – if the door is kept
  • closed. A half-full freezer will keep food frozen for about 24 hours.
For updates during an emergency event and other City of Toronto information, follow @TorontoComms on Twitter. The City will be using #citystorm when providing updates on the storm.
  • Foods that have thawed in the freezer may be refrozen if they still contain ice crystals or are at 4°C or below – evaluate each item separately.
  • Partial thawing and refreezing may reduce the quality of some food, but food will remain safe to eat.
  • If possible, add bags of ice to the refrigerator and freezer to keep temperatures cooler for a longer period.
  • Discard any items in the freezer or refrigerator that have come into contact with raw meat juices.
  • If you are in doubt about whether a food item has spoiled, throw it out.
  • Contact your doctor or pharmacist for information about proper storage of medication that requires refrigeration, such as insulin.
For more information about when to keep and when to throw out refrigerated foods, visit

For more information and advice about emergency preparedness visit

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