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Winter storm

Preventing damage caused by snow and ice. Snow buildup, freezing rain, windstorms and hail—they're all part of the mix in a Canadian winter. Here are some tips from our experts to help you prevent damage to your property, like water seepage and structural damage.

What to do after a storm

Check the following structures for snow buildup:

The roof

  • Snow and ice buildup
    Your roof needs to be cleared when a significant amount of snow or ice has built up on it—particularly if you have 70 cm (about 2 ft.) of snow or 5 cm (about 2 in.) of ice.
  • Ice dams
    When a building loses heat through the roof, it melts the snow, causing water to flow to the lowest part of the roof, where it freezes. Ice builds up along the edge of the roof, creating dams that prevent water from draining properly from the roof. As a result, water can build up and seep through the walls and ceiling.

Who can remove snow?

Because your safety is important, do not attempt to remove the snow and ice yourself. Hire a snow removal company with the proper equipment and techniques.

Stairs, doors and balconies

Remove snow and ice right away, especially from emergency exits.

Above ground swimming pools

Above ground swimming pools are not designed to withstand the pressure of heavy snow and ice buildup.

Also, melting snow in the spring can turn to ice and expand when the weather turns colder, potentially damaging the pool, especially its cover.

Remove snow to prevent your pool from collapsing under the weight of snow. The illustrated sheet explains how.

Hot tubs

Remove snow after a major snowfall to ensure there's no buildup which can damage the cover. 

Temporary carports

Temporary carports aren't designed to withstand excessive snow and ice buildup. As they often collapse, you should work from the outside rather from the inside to remove snow from the top of the carport.

Oil and gas appliances

Make sure there's adequate clearance around tanks and pipes and that they're easily accessible and protected from snow and ice falling from the roof. 

Want to learn more about how to prevent snow and ice damage? See our handy guide on:

Preventing damage caused by snow and ice

Making your house more resistant

In 2013, as part of Emergency Preparedness Week (May 6 to 11), the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) worked with Desjardins Insurance to retrofit a house in Greater Quebec City, making it more resistant.

Watch the video How to protect your home from damages caused by Mother Nature to find out what steps you can take for your own home.

Text on screen: Protect your home. 2013 Civil Protection Week.

Text on screen: Presented by the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. Building resilient  communities. In collaboration with Desjardins Insurance

Glenn McGillivray, Managing Director, Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR): The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction along with Desjardins Insurance is here in Quebec city today where we have retrofitted a home against earthquakes and winter storms. This is the eleventh straight year that ICLR has retrofitted a home somewhere in Canada against natural hazards.

We’ve installed many features in this home. 2013 marks the 16th year for the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. We’re an independent research organization founded by Canada’s insurers to reduce the impact of natural hazards on people and property. Over the last 11 emergencies preparedness, we’ve retrofitted homes against such hazards as wildfire, earthquake, winter storm and basement flooding.

To make it more resilient against earthquake, which is prevalent in the province of Quebec, as well as winter storm, which of course is also prevalent in this province, we’ve installed a 14 megawatt propane power generator which will allow the home to function even in the event of a power blackout.

Text on screen: Installing an emergency generator with propane fuel tank.

A power blackout can come because of winter storms, from earthquakes or from technical issues. This home is powered by electric heat, so it’s key that this home has electric power, in the winter time particularly.

We’ve built the safety structure around the propane tank for the generator to prevent it from toppling over in the event of an earthquake. Such failure can cause an explosion or a fire, and the structure that we’ve built helps prevent that.

We’ve installed clasps on the cabinets to ensure that they don’t fly open as a result of an earthquake and spray the contents of the cabinet on people.

Text on screen: Securing cabinet doors

It’s incredibly cost efficient, a very, very inexpensive way to protect your loved ones in the event of a natural hazard.

We’ve put up a power surge protector in this home in the event of a power surge.

Text on screen: Electric surge protection system

Many home owners can lose key electronic items such as televisions and computers. A power surge protector prevents a power surge and prevents the loss of electric appliances in a home.

We’ve installed a fire extinguisher for the home owners in the event of fires caused by either a natural hazard or from a cooking accident or something to that effect. Indeed, every home in Canada should have a fire extinguisher. It’s a very cost efficient and cost effective thing to have, and it can save lives.

We’re very fortunate to have 3M install their window film product.

Text on screen: Applying safety and security film to windows

That product actually has 3 functions. It can help prevent break-ins because it makes the windows very difficult to shatter. It also has a UV coating to make the home more energy efficient, so warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. But from a natural hazard standpoint, if there’s a wind storm, or something of that effect, it prevents the window from shattering and injuring or even killing the occupants in the home.

Text on screen: Securing the hot water tank

We’ve strapped down the water heater to ensure that it doesn’t topple over in the event of an earthquake or other event.

Image on screen: The water tank is attached with an adjustable ratchet straps held to the wall with screw eyes.

In this case, the hot water heater is powered by electricity, so there’s no fear of natural gas leakage. However, by strapping down the tank, we prevent water damage from occurring in the home.

Most washing machines in Canada come with rubber hoses. Rubber hoses can crack and break over time, causing a great deal of water damage to a home.

Text on screen: Installing armoured supply hoses

For perhaps ten or fifteen dollars, we’ve installed metal braided hoses, and such hoses can be used on washing machines, dishwashers, even toilets to help prevent water damage in a home.

We’ve installed snow and ice melt cables on the roof of this home.

Text on screen: Installing snow melt cables on roof edges and gutters

Snow and ice melt cables prevent ice buildup and snow buildup during the winter time. Such buildup can damage a roof, and these cables help prevent that damage from occurring.

Text on screen: Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. Building resilient communities.

Text on screen: Desjardins Insurance. Cooperating in building the future.

Legal info text: Desjardins Insurance refers to Desjardins General Insurance Inc., provider of auto, home and business insurance.

Here's a link about climate change and its impacts: David Suzuki Foundation


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These tips are provided for information purposes only. They are general in nature, and Desjardins Insurance cannot be held liable for them. We recommend using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, tailored advice.