With the summer months come fun in the sun, but the warm weather can also spell trouble. With thunderstorms, floods, lightning, strong winds, tornadoes, and even talk of hurricanes, Canadians should be prepared for severe conditions and the aftermath that can sometimes accompany warmer weather.
“While the weather is often unpredictable, it’s fairly safe to say that all Canadians will experience a moderate to severe weather event in their area sometime this season,” said David Phillips, senior climatologist, Environment Canada. “Therefore, it’s important to remind Canadians that they should be prepared wherever they might live.”
CSA Group, a leading certification and testing organization committed to public safety, wants to help everyone stay safe during the coming summer months. “At CSA we are all about safety,” said Anthony Toderian, CSA Group. “The summer months are generally filled with quality time spent outdoors with friends and family. Being weather aware and summer-smart is easy if equipped with a few simple but essential tips, which may ultimately help Canadians stay safe throughout the summer and fall storm seasons.”
STRONG WINDS & TORNADOES
Canada has the second most number of recorded tornadoes in the world, with between 60 and 80 events each year. CSA Group encourages Canadians to keep in mind some essential safety tips when it comes to recovering from severe wind damage:
- Seek a secure shelter and return home only when advised by local authorities and obey all emergency personnel instructions.
- Be prepared for recovery efforts with safety apparel and equipment that is certified by an accredited certification organization such as CSA Group. Basic items should include:
- Certified protective footwear to protect against electric shock, puncture and impact injuries; protective gloves, head wear and eye wear; protective masks.
- Personal first aid kit with antiseptic wipes.
- Portable battery, solar or crank-operated radio to receive updates and warnings from local authorities.
- Clean drinking water.
- Flashlight or chemical glow sticks (do not use candles or any open flame).
- Before approaching your home, check the surrounding area for hazards such as downed power lines, debris, or other dangers. Mark and report any hazards or hazardous goods to local authorities. Treat all power lines as live and never touch! Check outside the home for obvious structural faults. Do not enter if serious structural damage is evident.
- Examine the exterior of your home for gas leaks or electrical hazards. If possible, turn your gas off at the meter. If you can access your main electric box without going through standing water or entering the home, turn off the main breaker. Have qualified emergency personnel examine gas or electrical controls before turning them off.
- Upon entering, slowly and carefully watch for hazards. Beware of jammed doors, sagging ceilings or floors. Leave immediately if you hear shifting or unusual noises that signal the structure may fall or if you smell gas.
- Do not operate gas or electrical equipment until it has been dried, cleaned and inspected. Some equipment such as hot water heaters may need to be replaced entirely if floodwaters have reached the burners, electrical parts or insulation.
STORMS AND FLOODING
Thunderstorms occur regularly in Canada during warmer months. In eastern Canada, two to three tropical storms enter Canadian waters in an average year, sometimes wreaking havoc on shore. Even a “garden-variety” thunderstorm can cause major wind and water damage. CSA reminds Canadians to keep in mind the following when dealing with flooding:
- Standing water can be a breeding ground for viruses, bacteria and mold. Floodwaters often contain sewage or animal carcasses, so infectious disease is a concern. Never use contaminated water for cooking or washing.
- Everything that has been touched by floodwaters should be cleaned and disinfected. Materials that cannot be effectively cleaned, such as carpeting, mattresses, and stuffed toys or stuffed furniture should be discarded. Remove and discard wet wallboard/drywall/gypsum and insulation.
- Start the drying process as soon as possible by opening all windows and doors. If your basement remains flooded, drain it slowly and carefully only when standing water outside the home is no longer visible on the ground. Removing water too quickly could significantly damage or collapse your foundation.
- Heating and air conditioning ducts may have mud or debris and may need to be cleaned and disinfected.
In Canada, there are up to three-million lightning strikes each year, and an average of one strike every three seconds in the summer in central Canada. Lightning and extreme summer heat can lead to brownouts, or even blackouts. If faced with this situation, there are some important safety considerations:
- Use generators carefully and always follow instructions, ensuring your generator is rated for the amount of electricity you will need. To prevent shock, the generator must be properly grounded.
- Do not connect a generator directly to a home’s wiring, which could send high-voltage current or “backfeed” to outside power lines connected to your house. Backfeed could be fatal to anyone who touches the power line and may cause additional damage to your home.
- Never re-fuel a generator when it’s running or while still hot. Keep an appropriate fire extinguisher nearby at all times. Store fuel containers outside and away from buildings or combustibles.
- Consider using portable solar panels and battery units for smaller appliances.
For more everyday consumer tips and safety advice, please visitwww.csasafetytips.com
About CSA Group
CSA Group is an independent, not-for-profit member-based association dedicated to advancing safety, sustainability and social good. We are an internationally-accredited standards development and testing & certification organization. We also provide consumer product evaluation and education & training services. Our broad range of knowledge and expertise includes: industrial equipment, plumbing & construction, electro-medical & healthcare, appliances & gas, alternative energy, lighting and sustainability. The CSA mark appears on billions of products around the world.
Manager, Corporate Affairs