Extreme Weather

Extreme Weather

Weather can change, develop quickly and hit hard, posing a threat to life and property. Since we cannot change the weather, taking precautions can reduce the impacts of these events.

With severe weather often comes a loss of power, so be prepared to be on your own for a minimum of 72 hours by developing a household preparedness plan, putting together your Emergency Kit and connecting with your neighbours.

For weather warnings visit Public Weather Alerts for British Columbia at Environment Canada.

Extreme Heat

During heat waves, having a place to keep cool in is essential. For those who need relief from the heat, there are several locations with cooling spaces throughout the Regional District of Nanaimo that are regularly open to the public including libraries, shopping centres and other recreational facilities. A list of some of these locations can be found here.

Avoid Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion

In extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature.

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are two common conditions that can present themselves, and even heat-related deaths are possible during periods of extreme heat. 

Before Extreme Heat
During Extreme Heat
  • Stay hydrated by drinking cool beverages (preferably water), even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine.
  • Never leave children or pets unattended in a vehicle as temperatures can rise higher than 50 degrees Celsius.
  • Limit the amount of time outdoors between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm when the heat and sun are most intense. When outside, remain in the shade and use sunscreen with SPF 30 or more to avoid direct prolonged exposure to the sun.
  • Eat well-balanced, light and regular meals. Avoid salt if possible.
  • Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
  • Dress accordingly by wearing light coloured, loose fitting clothing that covers your skin and a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to shade your face.
  • Avoid demanding physical work or exercise in the heat. If you do perform tasks that are exerting, drink plenty of extra fluids and know when to take a rest.
  • Keep spray bottles full of cold water close by for a quick cool down. 
  • Cool showers and misting yourself and your clothing with cool water will help keep you from overheating.
  • Keep your home cool by closing shades during the day, open windows at night and use an air conditioner if you have one.
  • If you don’t have air-conditioning, take shelter in the coolest room in your home and use a fan. Blowing a fan across a pan of ice water can create a cool breeze. 
  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is above 37 degrees Celsius, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or spending time in an air-conditioned place, is a much better way to cool off.
  • Take advantage of air-conditioned buildings such as malls, library, and community centres.
After Extreme Heat
  • Check in on others, especially those that suffer from heart, lung and kidney conditions. Also pay special attention to seniors, infants and pets as they may be at an increased risk of heat related illness.
  • If you find anyone suffering from heat-related illness, move them to a shady location and call for medical assistance if required.
  • Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion.
  • Signs of heat stroke include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting; and high body temperature.
  • Move the person to a cooler place. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloth or a towel to the skin. Fan the person. If the person is conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition.
  • If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

Extreme Cold

There are some steps that you can take to make sure you are ready for extreme weather conditions. Review the before, during and after sections for things you can do to make sure you are prepared. 

Before Extreme Cold
  • Get to know your neighbours. Neighbours are the most reliable and immediate source of help during an emergency.  Check out the Neighbourhood Emergency Preparedness Program.
  • Review the Emergency Preparedness Workbook for general information on how to prepare.
  • Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. In addition, add the following cold weather supplies: 
    • Salt or use of environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways
    • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment 
    • Sufficient heating fuel in case you are cut off from regular fuel sources.
    • Adequate clothing and blankets for warmth 
  • Winterize your home: 
    • Weather strip doors and windows
    • Insulate walls and attics 
    • Clear rain gutters 
    • Inspect your chimney or flue 
  • Prepare your vehicle and pack a winter survival kit.   Your kit should include:
    • water, non-perishable food, and first aid supplies
    • Windshield scraper and snow brush
    • Extra windshield washer fluid
    • Spare tire, wheel wrench and jack
    • Shovel and traction mat, sand or kitty litter
    • Flashlight and extra batteries
    • Battery jumper cables
    • Extra clothing and footwear
    • Flares and matches or lighter
    • Fuel line antifreeze
    • Tire chains and gloves
  • You can install a non-electric standby stove or heater. It is important to adequately vent the stove or heater with the type of chimney flue specified for it. Never connect two heating units to the same chimney flue at the same time.
  • Before considering the use of an emergency generator during a power outage, check with furnace, appliance and lighting fixture dealers or manufacturers regarding power requirements and proper operating procedures.
  • Keep up-to-date with public weather information
During Extreme Cold
  • Stay indoors during the storm and have a battery-operated radio. This allows you to listen to your local station for warnings, advice and instructions.
  • Bring pets inside and move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy walkways.
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow.
  • Wear winter gear and keep dry, change out wet clothing as soon as possible. 
  • Never use charcoal or gas barbecues, camping heating equipment, or home generators indoors or in garages. They give off carbon monoxide. Because you can't smell or see it, carbon monoxide can cause health problems and is life-threatening.
  • For information on what to do during a power outage visit BC Hydro
  • Drive only when it is absolutely necessary, and make sure to let someone know your destination, route, and expected arrival. Monitor Drive BC and plan your route.
  • Road condition concerns can be directed to Mainroad Contracting at 1-877-215-6006. For more information, visit Mainroad's winter operations FAQ. 
  • Clear snow and ice from all windows, lights, mirrors, hood and the roof.
  • Keep your gas tank topped up and have a charged cellphone with you.  
  • If you get stuck in a storm, don’t panic. Avoid overexertion and exposure. Stay in your vehicle and open your window slightly to make sure you have a supply of fresh air. Use a survival candle for heat. Set out a warning light or flares.
  • Frostbite can occur when the skin and body tissue just beneath it freezes. Be on the lookout for signs of frostbite, such as loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities (fingers, toes, ears, face, tip of the nose)
  • Hypothermia can occur when body temperature is dangerously low. Signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.
  • Keep up-to-date with public weather warnings
After Extreme Cold
  • Avoid immediately turning on your heating system and numerous electronics and appliances as soon as the power is back. This gives the electrical system a chance to stabilize.
  • Reset your clocks, automatic timers, and alarms.
  • Check food supplies in your refrigerator and freezer.
    • Immediately cook or compost any frozen food that has started to defrost (usually after two days).
    • Check the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for information on handling refrigerated and frozen food after an outage.
  • Restock your emergency kit with fresh batteries, canned food and other supplies.

Extreme Wind

Wind storms, although infrequent, do occur and can also be accompanied by heavy rains adding to the potential flooding impact on local neighbourhoods.

Environment Canada provides wind warnings for coastal regions when sustained wind speeds reach 70 km/h, or gusts of 90km/h are forecasted. Winds at these speeds are capable of breaking small branches and even uprooting or breaking entire trees causing power outages and blocking roads.

Before Extreme Wind
During Extreme Wind
  • Stay off the roads if possible. If you must drive, monitor Drive BC and be aware of fallen debris and traffic signals that have lost power.
  • Stay away from fallen power lines. A hanging power line could be charged (live) and electrocute you. Also remember that ice, branches or power lines can continue to break and fall for several hours after a storm ends.
  • Check out the BC Hydro outage map and if your outage isn't shown, call 1-800-224-9676 or *49376 on your mobile or report it online. For more information on what to do during a power outage visit BC Hydro
  • Report road concerns on Electoral Areas roads and highways to Mainroad Contracting at 1-877-215-6006. For more information visit Mainroad's winter operations FAQs.
  • Fallen trees, branches or other debris that poses a safety concern within RDN parks and trails can be reported online or by calling 250-248-4744 or toll free 1-888-828-2069 during business hours. 
  • Do not go down to the water to watch the storm. Most people who are killed during hurricanes are caught in large waves, storm surges or flood waters.
  • If lightning is present, remember that you can use a cellular telephone during a severe storm, but, it's not safe to use a land-line telephone.
  • Always check the marine forecast before going boating and listen to weather reports. Never go out in a boat during a storm. If you are on the water and you see bad weather approaching, head for shore immediately.
After Extreme Wind 
  • Check your property for damage and clear away debris from rain gutters and storm drains.
  • Even though the wind has stopped, broken branches may hang dangerously overhead. Be cautious and look up for hazards.
  • Stay away from power lines on the ground.
  • Restock your emergency kit with fresh batteries, canned food and other supplies.