Tofino Winter: Prepare!

Tofino winter storms can create personal safety issues. It’s best to be prepared so that you can weather the storms with a smile. We recommend that you follow weather forecasts and pay attention to personal emergency preparedness. Listen to local radio or TV stations for weather warnings and advice. Being prepared will help you keep your family, friends, pets and property safe.

This information comes from the Provincial Emergency Program, with a few tips thrown in by GoTofino.Com locals.

Hazards and risks associated with winter weather include: 

– Car accidents due to slippery roadways
– Slips and falls on slippery walkways
– Falls from heights (eg: cleaning the gutters or roof)
– Hypothermia and frostbite due to exposure
– Being struck by falling objects such as tree branches
– Risks due to downed power lines or downed objects in contact with power lines
– Roof collapse or property damage under weight of snow or falling trees
– Exhaustion, exposure or dehydration
– Isolation and lack of basic supplies including prescription medications
– Stranded motorists
– Injuries while shovelling snow
– Melting snow or storm surges causing flooding
– Home fire safety risk

Planning Ahead fo Tofino Winters
Although most power outages last for just a few minutes, in extreme cases such as during severe weather events, outages can last for longer periods of time. Extended power outages do happen from time to time, so it makes sense to be prepared.

Think ahead and have a flashlight, electric lantern, extra batteries and candles on supply. Use candles with caution and with proper candle holders. Never leave burning candles unattended. Better to use flashlights or electric lanterns. Consider solar lights. The new ones require a minimum of light to power up. We use outdoor solar lanterns, and a couple of solar Mini Everlites that are reallly bright!

Prepare for possible isolation in your home and consider an alternative safe heating system. Also ensure that you have sufficient heating fuel for fire places or wood burning stoves. Every home should have smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, sprinklers and families should have a fire escape plan in place.

It is a good idea to assess the trees on your property and trim dead branches to reduce the danger of them falling onto power lines or your house during a storm.

Stay away from fallen power lines. A hanging power line could be charged (live) and you may run the risk of electrocution. Also remember that ice, branches or power lines can continue to break and fall for several hours after the end of the storm.

Staying Warm in Tofino Winters
Most home-heating systems depend on electric power. To prepare for a power failure, you may consider installing a non-electric standby stove or heater. Choose approved heating units that do not depend on an electric motor, electric fan or other electrical device to function. If the standby heating unit uses the normal house oil or gas supply, ensure that it is connected and vented properly.

Before considering the use of an emergency home generator during a power outage, check with the dealer or manufacturer regarding power requirements and proper operating procedures. Use caution and follow directions when operating generators, insuring they are in a proper well-ventilated area. Do not connect your home portable generator directly to a house wiring system without the proper installation of an approved transfer switch and an inspection and approval by an electrical inspector.

Furnace and fireplace maintenance considerations are very important in preparing for winter weather. Never use a camp stove, barbecue, or propane or kerosene heater indoors. A build-up of carbon monoxide gas in unventilated areas can be deadly.

Bundle up inside – wearing a sweater, warm socks and even a light toque will help keep you cozy. Have blankets on chairs and couches to cover up when you stop moving.

What To Do If Your Home Heating System Goes Out
– Remain calm, your house may remain warm for several hours.
– Avoid opening doors if you don’t have to.
– During a power failure, turn off all electrical appliances.
– Begin using a safe, approved alternate heat source before the house cools down.
– Make sure you keep adequate ventilation in your home.
– Dress in layers and bringing out extra blankets.
– Consider using one room for primary heating.

Concerned over pipes freezing?

Open a tap a small amount may keep water moving enough to keep pipes from freezing.

Stay Safe on Slippery Sidewalks, Stairs
Remember, stairways and sidewalks may be wet or icy and increase the risk of falls. Keep these areas clear and snow free. Consider using some salt, sand or other material to provide traction in these areas. Oxygen bleach works well on wooden walkways that are slippery. It’s environmentally friendly (oxygen bleach, not chorline bleach). Mop it on, let it sit for 10 minutes and rinse – done! Find it in the laundry section at food stores.
Don’t Get The Blues – we mean really cold!
Try to stay away from getting cold. Don’t head out for a surf if the weather is really cold. Stay away from rocky bluffs overlooking the ocean. Watch for rogue waves while on the beaches. Wind-chill is a combination of cold temperatures and wind conditions which may cause rapid loss of body temperature. Excess wind-chill may require special precautions for outdoor activities. If frostbite or hypothermia is suspected, know how to begin warming the person slowly and seek immediate medical assistance.
Stay with Friends or Neighbours
In extreme conditions, some people may want to make arrangements to stay with relatives, friends or neighbours. Listen to weather forecasts and instructions from local officials, as reception or warming centres may be set up in your community. Keep an eye out for neighbours who may be at-risk in severe conditions. Always follow the instructions of first responders and local emergency officials.

Ensure a supply of basic essentials in your home for at least 72 hours. If you must leave your home on short notice, remember to take your emergency grab and go kit. This should include:

– Flashlight and battery powered radio
– Extra clothing
– Essential medicines and toiletries
– Essential emergency supplies including water and food
– First aid kit
– Important documents, cash and family identification

Preparedness Information

Provincial Emergency Program
Emergency Preparedness | Family Emergency Preparedness Kits

Environment Canada Regional Weather Forecasts | Weather Warnings

BC Hydro Home Outage Preparation Checklist

Ministry of Transportation, Drive BCTravellers Information

Terasen Gas Safety at Home and Work

Office of the Fire Commissioner Website

For more information contact:
Crystal Ironside
ESS Director, Tofino   250.725.1218   250.266.ESSD (3773)