Natural hazards are those which are caused buy forces of nature. Human activity may trigger or worsen the hazard; but the hazard is ultimately viewed as a force of nature.
Canada borders on three oceans, stretches across six time zones, and encompasses mountains, plains, forests and tundra. It hosts weather patterns that range from Arctic to moderate, from seemingly endless rains to drought, from numbing cold to heat waves. With all those landforms and weather types, the possibilities of severe weather and geological events are a constant reality.
Hurricane season officially runs from June through November when the waters of the Atlantic Ocean are warm enough to produce a tropical cyclone, a category of weather systems that includes tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.
Environment Canada’s Canadian Hurricane Centre encourages Canadians to prepare for the hurricane season.
Hurricanes can often be predicted one or two days in advance of their landfall. The key to hurricane protection is preparation. By taking precautions before, during, and after a hurricane, lives can be saved and property damage averted.
Key Preparedness efforts should include:
- Stay informed – Listen to local warnings and advisories
- Secure everything that might be blown around, as flying objects can cause property damage and injury people
- Stock up – water, ready-to-eat food, battery powered or wind-up flashlights and radios (extra batteries)
A tornado is a powerful column of winds spiralling around a centre of low atmospheric pressure. Tornadoes often appear behind a shroud of heavy rain or hail in a sky that is green, yellow or black. A tornado can form quickly. They descend as funnel clouds that can move at speeds of up to 90 km/h. Very large thunderstorms can spawn multiple tornadoes or a single tornado with a number of smaller but destructive vortices within it.
Tornadoes typically snake erratically from southwest to northeast. They can last for a few minutes or a few hours, and usually leave a path of destruction in their wake. The strongest tornadoes, which rank as an F5 on the Fujita scale, boast winds of just over 500 km/h.
Preparing for Tornadoes involves:
- Designating a safe room in your home where household members and pets may gather during a tornado. The safest place to be is underground in a basement.
- Remove dead or rotting trees that could fall and cause injury or damage
Detailed listing of preparedness tips can be located through the Emergency Management Ontario website.
Earthquakes are most common in eastern Ontario, but can also happen in other parts of the province. An earthquake occurs when energy is released underground through the shifting and breaking of rocks underneath the surface. This can cause rapid and sudden shaking of the earth which last for seconds or several minutes. Earthquakes can cause damage to buildings, roads and bridges, and trigger landslides.
An earthquake that is powerful enough to result in a declared emergency is likely to disrupt business and financial activities, and cause secondary hazards such as water main breaks, power outages, and gas being shut off.
Steps to prepare for earthquakes should include:
- Finding safe places in every room of your home
- Prepare your home – brace overhead light fixtures and bookcases, hang heavy items away from beds, couches, and places where people sleep or sit
Floods are typically caused by melting snow, ice jams, heavy spring rains and summer thunderstorms. Flash flooding is caused by violent rain storms or breaking dams — often occurring with little or no warning. They can damage property and injure or kill people.
Monitoring flood forecasting can greatly improve individual’s ability to respond to specific occurrences. Provincial and local authorities constantly monitor flooding and have developed a forecasting and warning program.
Wildfires can be very dangerous to people and property, being prepared in advance and knowing what actions to take can better protect you.
Preparing for potential forest fires includes:
- Practice evacuating your home and plan several escape routes
- Review safety tips and evacuation plans with your entire household
- Install smoke detectors
- Clearly mark your driveway entrances and display your address so that fire vehicles can easily find your home.
For more information please find a complete preparedness guide to forest fire safety and preparedness.
Being prepared for winter weather is the best was to keep your family sand yourself safe. Prepare for winter weather before the storm hits by:
- Check local weather forecasts
- Avoid unnecessary travel
- Check your emergency supplies
- Install smoke detectors – check batteries frequently to ensure they are still working
- Weather proof your home
- Bring your pets indoors
- Avoid overexertion when shovelling snow
- Wear layers of lightweight clothing, mittens and a hat
Extreme Cold and Cold Weather Alerts
Extreme cold events occur when winter temperatures drop significantly below average for that time of the year. Exposure to cold temperatures, whether indoors or outside, can cause other serious or life-threatening health problems. To keep yourself and your family safe, you should know how to prevent cold-related health problems and what to do if a cold-weather health emergency arises.