What to do if you receive an emergency notification
Listed below are guidelines on what you need to do to protect yourself, your family and your property so you can take action now.
For more information about what to do during an emergency, such as how to evacuate, shelter-in-place and drive in bad weather, read the York Region Emergency Preparedness Guide. This resource also shares information about how to recover after an emergency and start planning before an emergency happens.
Stay informed and connected
During an emergency, continue monitoring conditions using the WeatherCAN App and stay informed about updates from local authorities through local news channels.
Call your family and friends to check in on them and let them know if you are okay. Update your emergency phone contacts regularly and make sure you include an out-of-town contact person, important local contact information and your emergency contact list numbers.
Let friends and family know you're okay by marking yourself safe on Facebook and providing a status update on your other social media accounts.
What’s the difference? Weather WATCH vs. WARNING
“Have a plan”
WATCH means there is an area-wide risk of a storm occurring but does not mean the storm WILL happen.
A WATCH means the probability for severe weather is high so monitor weather reports. Everyone in an area identified by a WATCH should be careful and be ready to act quickly if a storm occurs.
WARNING means severe weather exists within an area now or will happen soon.
Everyone in an area identified by a WARNING should monitor local weather conditions and take cover or evacuate immediately.
Air pollution can have serious health impacts on children, seniors and people with heart or breathing problems like lung or heart disease. Be air aware and plan ahead by checking the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) or by visiting Air Quality Ontario. You can also sign up for air alerts or download the Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) WeatherCan app on your phone.
If you have heart or lung conditions, talk to your physician about additional ways to protect your health. For more on outdoor air quality visit york.ca/health
If there is a significant air quality event (wildfire, industrial fire etc. ) you may be directed to evacuate or shelter in place. For more information on sheltering in place and sealing your space, please refer to the Hazardous Materials Incidents section.
During extreme heat:
Check local weather conditions and warnings
Check regularly on family, friends or neighbours during hot and humid conditions; consider using this tool to assess for heat related illness
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of cool liquids, especially water, before feeling thirsty
Avoid drinks containing alcohol or caffeine
Do not leave people or pets unattended in a car
Staying Cool Outdoors
- Schedule outdoor physical activities in the morning and evening hours when it is cooler
- Reduce activity and rest often in shaded areas
- Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabric
- Reduce sun exposure by wearing a wide-brimmed, breathable hat or use an umbrella
- Wear sunglasses with UV protection and sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher
Staying Cool Indoors
- Stay in cool, well-ventilated areas
- Close blinds and curtains to reduce the heat coming into your home
- Fans are only effective when circulating cooler air; open a window or door if using a fan to bring in cooler air
- If your home is not air conditioned, consider spending the warmest part of the day in air-conditioned buildings such as libraries, shopping malls and other community facilities; visit your local municipality's website for more information on where you can stay cool in your area
- Take cool showers or baths, or wet your hands, face and the back of your neck
- Prepare meals that don’t need to be cooked in the oven
Learn more at york.ca/ExtremeHeat
If directed to conserve energy during an emergency:
- Adjust or turn off/down your air conditioner when not home – use a programmable thermostat
- Close blinds and curtains during the day to help keep heat out
- Replace incandescent lighting with fluorescent lights
- Turn off lights, computers, stereos, televisions and other electronics when not in use
- Prepare healthy meals that do not require cooking
- Shower, run dishwasher, washer and dryer during off-peak hours (or dry wet clothes outdoors)
- Avoid using heat producing small appliances (toasters, hair dryers)
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible
If a flood warning has been issued for your area, follow the advice and instructions from emergency response authorities. Monitor your local weather conditions and be prepared to evacuate at a moment's notice. Ignoring the warning could jeopardize the safety of your family or those who may have to rescue you.
Take these precautions to ensure your family and property are protected:
- Have emergency food, drinking water and medical supplies on-hand
- Move furniture, electronics, appliances, equipment and/or other items off the floor where possible
- Remove or seal hazardous products like cleaning chemicals
- Remove toilet bowl water and plug basement sewer drains and toilet connections
- Be prepared to evacuate your home or vehicle as requested by authorities
- Have sandbags ready to use (available from hardware stores) and know how to stack them
If you receive a thunderstorm alert stating power outages are expected, prepare by:
- Listening to your local news on the radio for updates and instructions from officials
- Visiting the power outage maps of your hydro provider in York Region; these include Alectra, Hydro One and Newmarket Tay Power (NT Power)
- Locating your 72-hour emergency kit
- Putting flashlights with batteries in major rooms
- Fully charging your phone and phone charger while you have power
- Putting your power company’s phone number, website or social media information on your cell phone
- Disconnecting all surge-prone electronics such as laptops, TVs, and microwaves
- Shutting your freezer and fridge doors completely
- Filling a cooler with ice or freezer blocks for cold food storage, if needed
- Opening your electric garage door if you think you will need to access your car or garage during the power outage (and knowing how to shut it manually)
- Filling your vehicle with no less than a half-tank of gas because gas stations are electrically operated and won’t work during a power outage
- If you depend on home oxygen (or other life-sustaining equipment), locate your back-up that does not rely on power (such as battery back-up)
If you depend on home oxygen (or other life-sustaining equipment), locate your back-up that does not rely on power (such as battery back-up)
How to save your mobile phone battery
- Charge it while you have power
- Turn on power savings mode
- Use social media for updates
- Record an “I’m OK” message on voicemail
- Limit voice calls – text message is best
Severe summer storms
Thunderstorms and lightning
Lightning can strike anywhere within the same area that thunder sound travels. If you can hear thunder, you can be struck by lightning and should seek shelter immediately. There is no safe place outdoors during a thunderstorm. If thunder roars, go indoors!
Use this lightning danger map to track areas at greatest risk of being struck by lightning in the next 10 minutes.
Pay attention to local weather stations for weather watches and warnings. You can also find up-to-date information on severe storm conditions, storm maps, weather warnings and public weather alerts at Environment Canada.
- Stay away from trees, telephone poles, wires, fences or anything metal
- Seek a low-lying area and don’t stand near anything made of metal
- Stay away from appliances or equipment — anything that will conduct electricity including sinks, tubs and showers
- Avoid using a telephone that is connected to a landline
If driving or boating:
- Do not park under tall objects that could topple
- Do not stop or exit vehicle if there are power lines down nearby
- If in a boat, get to shore and find shelter
What to do when there is a tornado watch or warning
A tornado WATCH – “Have a plan”:
- Stay tuned to your local weather station for updated information
- Be careful and be ready to put your family emergency plan into action quickly if a tornado warning is announced
- If you are not at home, determine the safest place to shelter if a tornado occurs
A tornado WARNING – “Take action”:
- Take shelter immediately (never wait until you see a tornado)
- Don’t go under an overpass or bridge; you’re safer in an open flat area
- If you cannot find shelter, lie flat in a ditch and cover your head with your hands
- Get as close to the ground as possible and watch for flying debris (small objects become dangerous projectiles when carried by tornado winds)
- If you are driving and see a tornado, get to a nearby shelter or travel away from the tornado
- Do not use your car as a shelter; debris may come through the windows or the vehicle may be lifted away
- Stay tuned to your local weather station for updated information
- Go to your basement, cold cellar or take shelter in a small interior windowless ground floor room (such as a bathroom, closet or hallway)
- Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside
- Shelter under a sturdy piece of furniture
- Use your arms to protect your head and neck
If at the office or apartment building:
- Take shelter in an inner hallway or room (ideally in the basement) or ground floor
- Do not use the elevator and stay away from windows
- Avoid large rooms that are not supported in the middle such as gymnasiums, churches and auditoriums
Tornado Safety Tips
- Go to the basement or smallest centre room
- Stay away from all windows
- Cover yourself
- Go to the lowest floor possible or seek shelter in an interior hallway or stairwell
- Do not use the elevator
Pay attention to local weather stations for updated information and Environment Canada for specifics on severe storm conditions, storm maps, weather warnings and public weather alerts. Be aware of other hazards that may follow a severe winter weather event such as power outages or surface flooding.
During the storm, avoid going outside or unnecessary travel. If you must go outside, protect yourself from the elements with proper clothing and watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite. If you must travel somewhere, find out the road conditions before driving or venturing outdoors, and drive safely.
If outdoors - on a farm:
- Bring livestock indoors and make sure they have plenty of water and food
- If you must go to the outbuildings, dress for the weather