With the momentous blizzard approaching, now is a good time for people to prepare and make sure they have the necessities according to experts.
The Southern Emergency Response Committee (SERC) is urging area residents to prepare for what's being described as potentially the worst blizzard in decades. With 30 to 50cms of snow, and potentially more in some regions, expected to fall Wednesday through Good Friday, SERC Emergency Coordinator Darin Driedger stresses it's crucial we plan now for potential needs, considering the early warning forecasters have provided.
"Weather modelling, and our forecasters, have done a very good job at trying to get the message out very quickly, and early, that everyone needs to plan and prepare for the storm," noted Driedger. "We need to make sure we listen, and it's crucial everyone plans in the next day or two."
And what should that plan include? The best place to start is having a 72-hour at-home emergency kit including things like canned food, energy bars, bottled water, medications, flashlights, toiletries and a first aid kit.
"For folks who live in the rural areas, with these types of storms, there's a good chance roads and access will be delayed in opening, so even when the storm stops, there's a good chance you might not be able to travel for a while," he said. "Start off with that emergency kit. Think about things you're going to possibly need, going on for a few days, that you won't be able to go get."
With the threat of power outages, candles are also good to have in the emergency kit, but a word of caution from Driedger regarding other forms of open flame heating, specifically not using propane heaters indoors due to the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Based on the current forecast, the most severe conditions are expected Wednesday through Good Friday morning, and he noted our preparations for the storm should include avoiding unnecessary travel once the storm arrives.
"It is very, very important that people limit their travel during this time," he stressed. "It makes things difficult for first responders to travel on roads when they're stuck vehicles, so overall very important to avoid any unnecessary travel."
If you must travel, and end up becoming stuck, Driedger shared these safety tips.
"Generally, we do recommend you stay in your vehicle," he noted. "It can become very dangerous for people to leave their vehicle and get disoriented, especially in a snowstorm. If you are travelling, have a full tank of gas, and keep your engine running. You have to make sure your exhaust is not getting plugged with snow, things like that. You might have to consider opening a window to make sure there's fresh air coming in, and again, avoid falling asleep."
Driedger encourages travellers to have a fully charged cell phone with them, and if they will be travelling in an area with poor reception, tell someone you are hitting the road, so they know if you don't arrive at the expected time, perhaps something has happened, and help may be needed.
And finally, he added, keeping an eye on neighbours and your neighbourhood would be helpful.
"For storms like this, checking on neighbours, checking on your neighbourhood, is going to be very critical," he said. "If you know of someone who's at risk, someone like an elderly person with family that maybe lives far away, or someone with a condition that might make them more vulnerable in this type of storm, I really encourage residents to take note and try to check up on those people as the storm progresses. Make sure they're okay. It's very difficult for family that lives out of town to come in and check on their loved ones, or their friends or family that might be in more vulnerable positions. So we really rely on our neighbours, our neighbourhoods, to watch over ourselves and each other."