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Environment and Climate Change Canada shares tips for surviving severe summer weather

Editorial note: The following is information provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada. Kingstonist is sharing this information due to the ongoing heat warning in Kingston and the area.

Who doesn’t love summer breezes, blooming gardens and warm walks outside? While there is a lot to celebrate about the season, it can also bring severe weather, like extreme heat, tornadoes, and thunderstorms. Don’t let dangerous weather sneak up on you. Plan ahead and stay informed with a few easy steps.

Photo by Patrick Selin.

Check the weather forecast often

The more you know, the more you can prepare. Check the weather forecast and current conditions early and often so you know what to expect and can plan accordingly. 

Get the forecast online

If you prefer to get your weather information online, you can find local weather information – including information about hazardous weather and warnings – any time at https://weather.gc.ca/.

Get the forecast through the WeatherCAN app.

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s WeatherCAN app provides the latest forecast information and alert notifications wherever you are in Canada. Download it from the App Store or Google Play.

Get the forecast by phone

Have you heard of Hello Weather? It’s Environment and Climate Change Canada’s automated telephone service. You can call Hello Weather at 1-833-794-3556 (1-833-79HELLO) to get weather forecasts, current weather conditions, information on impending hazardous weather, marine weather information, and air quality and health index information. It is available from anywhere in Canada, any time of day or night.

When you call, you will be asked for your location code. If you know your code, you can enter it. You can also search for your code by following the phone prompts. You can find your location code before calling at canada.ca/helloweather. Spread the word about this service to anyone who has trouble using the internet and anyone you think would prefer to get weather info by phone.

Plan ahead for severe weather

Make an emergency kit and an emergency plan so you are ready for severe weather. Learn how at GetPrepared.ca.

Extreme heat

Extreme heat can cause illness, injuries and even death. It’s important to think ahead about what to do in an extreme heat event so that you can take action immediately if needed.

Step 1: plan ahead.
  • Check that your air conditioners or fans work.
  • Scope out a local air-conditioned spot to go to if you need a break from the heat.
  • Pack cold drinks in your vehicle and fill your tank or charge up so you can leave quickly if needed.
  • Plan visits with family or friends on hot days. This is especially important for people who are more at-risk for extreme heat events, like older adults, young children and people with chronic illnesses. It’s important to see people in person because signs of heat illness can be missed over the phone.

Step 2: Stay cool and hydrated.

Step 3: Avoid exposure to extreme heat when outdoors.
Step 4: Watch for signs of heat illness, especially heat stroke, which is a medical emergency. Call 911 immediately if you or someone you are caring for has a high body temperature and is either unconscious, confused or has stopped sweating.

Signs of heat exhaustion are:

  • skin rash
  • muscle cramps
  • dizziness or fainting
  • nausea or vomiting
  • heavy sweating
  • headache
  • rapid breathing and heartbeat
  • extreme thirst
  • dark urine and decreased urination

Signs of heat stroke are:

  • high body temperature
  • dizziness or fainting
  • confusion and lack of coordination
  • no sweating but being very hot with red skin
Graphic via Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Lightning

Any thunderstorm can produce lightning. A good rule to follow is, “If thunder roars, go indoors.” If you hear thunder, you are within striking distance of lightning. The only safe place during a thunderstorm is inside a building or all-metal vehicle (convertibles do not protect from lightning). If you’re on the water, get to shore immediately. Check the forecast and current conditions often so you know what to expect.

Photo via Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes

Photo via Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Every year, Canadians are killed and injured during thunderstorms. Severe thunderstorms can develop very quickly, bringing flying debris, lightning, and possible tornadoes. Thankfully, there are usually warning signs. Keep and eye on the sky, watch for weather warnings and listen for thunder.

Tornadoes often develop very quickly, which makes them harder to predict than other types of hazardous weather. It is important to stay informed by checking the weather regularly. Environment and Climate Change Canada will issue watches, warnings and “Broadcast Immediate Alerts” through television, radio and LTE-connected and compatible wireless devices when a tornado or extreme, life-threatening thunderstorm is happening or is about to happen.

If it looks like strong wind or a tornado is coming, or you hear a warning or a “Broadcast Immediate Alert”:

  • Go to the basement or a small interior ground floor room.
  • If you don’t have a basement, go to an interior room and shelter under a heavy table or desk.
  • Get as close to the ground as possible, protect your head and watch for flying debris.
  • Stay away from windows, outside walls and doors.
  • If you are in a car, RV or trailer, go to a building with a strong foundation. If this is not possible, stay in your vehicle. Buckle your seatbelt and get below window level. Protect your head from debris.
  • As a last resort, lie down in a ditch away from cars and mobile homes. Watch for flooding. Do not hide in a culvert or under a bridge.
  • If you are driving and come to a flooded road, turn around. The water could be deeper than you think, the road could be washed away and the currents could be stronger than they appear.

There is a lot to remember about severe weather and it may seem overwhelming. It might help to put this article up on your fridge or keep it somewhere else so you can refer to it later. Remember: during most severe weather events, the safest place is indoors.

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