How to prepare for the big storm about to hit the Maritimes

Plan to be stranded in your home for three days and nights when a winter storm hits and you’ll never be disappointed.

What you'll need to survive 72 hours isolated at home if the worst of the forecasts proves true

A good winter storm survival kit should keep you safe through the winter weather. (CBC)

Please note: This story was published January 2018. 

Plan to be stranded in your home for three days and nights when a winter storm hits and you'll never be disappointed.

Jason Mew, director of provincial operations for Nova Scotia's Emergency Management Office, urged people to prepare for long power outages and no outside help ahead of a storm predicted to hit the Maritimes Thursday and Friday.  

"Put together a kit for 72 hours so they're somewhat self-sufficient in their own home while the storm passes through the province," he said.

Your kit should include:

  • Two litres of water per day, per person. Buy it or fill jugs.
  • Food that won't spoil (canned food, energy bars).
  • Hand-operated can opener (if you have an electric opener, your canned food won't help you).
  • Wind-up or battery-powered flashlight and radio.
  • First-aid kit.
  • Extra set of keys.

Keep your mobile phone fully charged and charge any backup battery cases you have for it. Talk to your family or roommates about how you plan on enduring an extended outage.

If you get a tarp and duct tape, you can quickly patch up a broken window should a tree fall your way. 

Figure out if you're on well water that uses a pump, as it'll stop working during an outage, meaning you'll need more water to flush the toilet and wash.

Report live wires

While you might not have power, assume that any downed power lines do. Report them to Nova Scotia Power as live wires.

Call your municipality for information on warming centres, plowing and such matters.

"911 is just for emergencies — if it's a critical threat to your own life or property. So a fire, or if you're in real distress and need to be rescued," Mew said.

Keep warm clothes and blankets handy. Don't use a generator inside. If you use it outside, read the manual now so you know how it works.

EMO says you should put these things in your storm survival kit. (EMO)

Inside, a wood stove or a kerosene heater usually works best. Make sure the chimney is clear. Again, read the kerosene heater manual. Some heaters need to be vented through an open window if used indoors.

Write the Nova Scotia Power outages phone number down on paper (it's 1-877-428-6004). Bookmark the website, including the outage map, which will likely still work if your mobile phone has data. The phone line will be staffed around the clock during the storm.

Tie your stuff down

Strong winds are expected, so Mew said you should bring in your garbage cans and compost bins, or secure them so high winds don't blast them down the street.

"Make sure your pets are indoors and look after your neighbours," Mew said.

Trevor Harvie, superintendent of winter operations for the Halifax Regional Municipality, added a few more ideas.

"Where there could be some power outages, you want to make sure you have some gasoline on hand if you happen to have a generator. Have some batteries, have your cellphone charged up," he said.

"Make sure you check on your neighbour as well. I think that's very important that throughout the storm, that next day, to make sure everything is OK."

Once the storm is done, the 100-series highways and other high-traffic roads should be cleared within eight hours. Secondary routes should be clear in 12 hours and tertiary routes, including most residential streets, should be clear within 24 hours. 

If you do get in your car, Halifax Regional Police said drivers must clear any "icebergs" from the roof so they don't fly off and hit another vehicle. Drive slowly and watch out for people walking in the street.

If you're on foot, wear your brightest, warmest clothes and stick to the sidewalk as much as you can. 

When you shovel out, don't dump it in the street — it's illegal and can be unsafe.