Getting ready for a heavy snowfall: Are you prepared?

On Dec. 14, 2010, more than 300 people were trapped in their cars for some 36 hours on Ontario’s highway 402 when heavy snow blanketed the London to Sarnia roadway. Rescue crews worked for hours to free those trapped in sub-zero temperatures. A state of emergency was called.

Tonight, weather forecasters are predicting that most of the Greater Toronto Area and Southern Ontario will receive a possible snowfall of 15 to 30 centimetres, with totals varying depending on lake effect. Are you prepared?

Left: Even the most determined of road warriors can get stuck in heavy snow

Katherine Branton, manager of York University’s Office of Emergency Preparedness, thinks that every vehicle should have an emergency kit. "It is very important to have a car emergency kit in your vehicle at all times," says Branton.

"If your vehicle gets stuck due to heavy snow or a road closure, as was the case on Dec. 14, it is very important to have an emergency kit that will keep you safe until help arrives," she adds.

York community members are invited to drop by today’s Safety Awareness Day to learn more about emergency preparedness. Branton will have sample emergency preparedness kits on display and will be available to answer questions about how to construct a kit for the car and home.

If you have a car, prepare an emergency car kit and keep it in the vehicle. According to the Government of Canada’s Get Prepared website, a basic emergency kit for cars should include the following items:

  • Food – that won’t spoil, such as energy bars, chocolate bars, granola bars or other dried snacks (change every few months)
  • Water – in plastic bottles so they won’t break if frozen (change every six months)
  • Blanket
  • Extra clothing and shoes
  • First aid kit – with seatbelt cutter
  • Small shovel, scraper and snowbrush
  • Candle in a deep can and matches
  • Wind-up flashlight
  • Whistle – in case you need to attract attention
  • Roadmaps
  • Copy of your emergency plan and personal documents

Also keep these items inside your trunk:

  • Sand, salt or cat litter (non-clumping)
  • Antifreeze/windshield washer fluid
  • Tow rope
  • Jumper cables
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Warning light or road flares

Branton also encourages everyone to learn about first aid. "First aid is important to know and you could save a life," she says. York Sport & Recreation is offering a standard first aid and CPR certification course and a standard first aid and CPR re-certification course this year.

The standard first aid and CPR certification course will be offered at different times: Feb. 5 and 6, and March 19 and 20, from 9am to 6pm at 320 Norman Bethune College, Keele campus. The cost of the course is $90.

Standard First Aid provides comprehensive training covering all aspects of first aid and CPR. Standard First Aid incorporates all of emergency first aid and is designed for those who require a more in-depth understanding of first aid, including legal implications of first-aid treatment, spinal injuries, heat or cold injuries, bone and joint injuries, abdominal and chest injuries, burns and medical emergencies.

Registration will take place at Client Services in the lobby of the Tait McKenzie Centre.

For more information, visit the York Sport & Recreation website or call 416-736-5185.

In case of heavy snow…

York University Security Services continuously monitors weather conditions and the latest forecasts.  A decision to declare a weather emergency will normally be made:

  • by 5:30am, for suspension of daytime operations and cancellation/postponement of daytime classes, exams and activities (with locations/campuses affected);
  • before 5pm, for suspension of evening operations and cancellation/postponement of evening classes, exams and activities (with locations/campus affected)
  • by 9pm, for suspension of night-time operations (with locations/campuses affected)

Once the day’s operations, classes, exams and activities have commenced, should conditions necessitate it. a weather emergency may be declared at any time. For more information, visit the York University Weather Status website.