Last May’s windstorms set record high in wind speeds and caused the province more than $380 million in damages. With climatologists predicting more extreme weather events, you need to know what to do to keep your home safe when a windstorm is about to hit.
Put everything you can inside
In a high wind situation, the line between "charming lawn ornament” and "flying hazard” is slim. If your area is issued a wind advisory or warning, the best thing you can do to protect your home is to immediately pick up any loose or lightly staked items around the yard and place them inside the home or in a shed. This includes garbage cans, hockey nets, patio furniture, and any pool toys. A giant inflatable duck might seem harmless, but you’ve probably never seen one flying in 60 km/h winds.
If you’re unable to stash everything indoors (there’s no room in the shed, the garbage cans are full of disgusting trash and there’s no way they’re coming inside, etc.), try to at least brace as much as you can against the house or the fence. Ideally, try to shield the items on two sides to minimize the risk of them getting loose. This is also a great time to make strategic use of your bungie cords. A moment hooking your garbage can to your fence might save a half-hour of touring around the neighbourhood trying to find everything later.
Pull the tarp over the pool
If you’re a pool owner and you have enough prior notice before the winds pick up, do yourself a favour and set up the tarp. At the very least this will save you hours of time skimming leaves and sticks out of the pool after the storm. At best, it can save you from even more dire messes. You’ve never experienced pure dread if you haven’t watched an entire garbage can dumped into your pool.
Batten down the hatches
Check the weather stripping around your doors and windows to make sure there are no obvious signs of wear. If anything looks weak or you notice any holes, temporarily patch it up with some duct tape and be sure to replace it later. If you have storm shutters be sure to close them and make sure any gates, shed doors, screen doors are all properly latched and won’t blow around during the storm. In particular, make sure your garage door is fully closed and locked. Due to their board shape and thin body, garage doors can be easily picked up by the wind and damaged if there are any openings.
Get your supplies handy
Wind storms can easily knock down power lines and cause outages. The last thing you want to be doing when the lights are out is feeling around for the flashlight in the cupboard. Hunt down your flashlights, candles, and lamps early before it’s too late. While you are at it, it could be a good idea to line up your daily necessities as well. Keeping things like medications, diapers, and pet food handy will help make the storm less stressful for the entire family.
Don’t forget to bring the pets in!
When the winds start to pick up, it's time to bring any small pets inside and keep them in. It may sound like a bad joke or a tall tale, but for cats and small breeds of dogs, blowing away in a wind storm is a real possibility! A six-pound dog can be swept off its feet in even 60 km/h winds, potentially causing deadly injury. Don't take any chances: If you must take your dog out during the storm, be sure to keep them on a secure (and maybe brightly coloured) leash!