During winter, various meteorological events may pose risks to individuals and property, and cause interruptions to essential services or activities in the community.
Prepare an emergency kit for the car (French only).
If you have a wood-burning stove or a fireplace, stock up on combustible.
If your heating system is not electric, have it inspected and cleaned annually by a qualified service technician.
Ensure that your backup heating system complies with safety standards. It must be installed in compliance with manufacturer instructions and regulations in force.
Install a carbon monoxide detector if you plan to use a combustion heating system (ex.: a propane heater or a wood-burning fireplace). Have it inspected regularly.
Know how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Make sure that your home is well insulated.
Protect water pipes and lines from freezing.
Regularly inspect your roofing in wintertime to ensure that there is not an accumulation of snow or ice. Call a professional if snow removal cannot be carried out in optimal safety conditions.
Monitor weather alerts when planning your activities.
If a winter storm is forecast, have on hand sufficient
- food and water
- prescription medications.
In an emergency or a disaster, you are the first person responsible for your safety (French only) and that of your family, as well as safeguarding your property. In the event of a disaster, however, municipalities are responsible for helping the people affected and for taking the necessary measures.
When a municipality's response capacity is insufficient, the Gouvernement du Québec provides assistance (French only) by deploying government resources to facilitate the return to normal, based on what is provided for in Québec’s national civil protection plan.
What to do during
Monitor weather alerts in effect in your region.
Alert your municipality to any situation that requires the intervention of municipal services (burst water main, branches in the road, etc.).
Report any power outage to Hydro-Québec, on its website or by phone at 1 800 790-2424. Consult Power outages for the usual instructions and recommendations.
Call people at risk among your family and friends to ensure their well-being.
If you must go out,
- Dress according to the weather. Make sure that you cover your head, nose, mouth, neck, hands and feet properly. Wear warm boots with non-slip soles.
- Do not stay outdoors for extended periods without being well protected from the cold.
- Stay active.
- Take breaks in a warm place that is sheltered from the wind.
Make sure that your pets have access to a shelter to protect them when they are outdoors, as animals can also suffer from hypothermia (French only).
It is important to protect yourself from the effects of extreme cold, as they may worsen certain diseases and have health effects, including
- frostbite, which occurs when skin that is exposed to the cold freezes, and it most often affects the extremities of the body (fingers, toes, nose, cheeks, ears, etc.). Frostbite is characterized by paler-than-usual, waxy-looking skin.
- hypothermia, which occurs when the temperature of the body or part of the body falls below normal. A person has hypothermia when their oral temperature drops below 35°C (95°F). The symptoms of hypothermia are numbness, confusion, loss of consciousness, slowed breathing, and cardiac and respiratory arrest.
If you have a health problem, seek advice from a health professional, or contact Info-Santé at 811 to find out if the problem makes you more vulnerable to the cold. If your life or that of someone close to you is in danger and you are unable to go to the nearest emergency department, call 911.
Use backup heating systems (French only) according to manufacturer instructions.
If you use a wood-burning (French only) unit, constantly monitor the fireplace or stove.
Make sure that the chimney outlet is not blocked by accumulated snow.
If there is a power outage, see the steps to take in the event of a power outage. It is also important to know how to use your generator (French only) safely.
Avoid all unnecessary travel and postpone non-essential appointments.
Remove snow from all around your vehicle, including all windows, mirrors, the roof, hood, lights and licence plate.
Take a cell phone, as well as adequate supplies of bottled water, food, covers and medication, in case the vehicle breaks down.
To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
- Clear snow away from the exhaust pipe before starting the vehicle.
- Never start the vehicle in the garage when the door is closed.
- Never leave the engine running in a garage or temporary shelter, even with the door open.
- Do not use the remote starter when your vehicle is in a garage or temporary shelter, or it is covered with snow.
If you are inside your vehicle and are stranded on the road,
- Remain alert to symptoms of hypothermia.
- Monitor any sign of drowsiness. Do a few exercises from time to time to maintain the circulation in your extremities.
- Turn on your hazard lights and the interior light, so that you are visible to rescue teams if it is dark out.
- Secure a piece of bright-coloured material to the antenna.
Take the following precautions as well
- Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe.
- Partially open a window on the sheltered side of the vehicle before starting the engine.
- Run the engine for only 10 minutes or so every half hour.
- Remain in your vehicle, unless you are in danger.
- Use your vehicle emergency kit (French only) as needed.
- Use the vehicle battery sparingly by alternating the lights, heat and the radio.
If it is absolutely necessary to evacuate your home
Leave your home if you are in danger or at the request of the authorities. If you are unsure where to go, contact your municipality. For more details, consult the government’s Evacuate your home page.
Remove snow and ice from your roof
From ground level, use a roof rake fitted with a telescopic handle to remove snow from the roof.
Remove snow from your roof only when weather conditions and conditions underfoot are not a danger.
When removing snow from a temporary shelter, stay outside the shelter to avoid injury in the event that the structure collapses.
For more details, see the instructions and recommendations of the Régie du bâtiment du Québec.
Last update: November 30, 2022