Grab your generators, bring your trampolines – hurricane tips from experts

After overcoming more than a few hurricane seasons, people across Atlantic Canada are familiar with common storm preparation tips: collect batteries, stock up on bottled water, and non-perishable food.

But there are some lesser-known tips that experts swear by: take note, trampoline owners.

Hurricane Fiona is expected to land in Atlantic Canada between Friday and Saturday as it transforms into a post-tropical storm, bringing strong winds, heavy rains and storm surges that could cause power outages and floods.

“We are certainly preparing for the worst and hope for the best,” said Amanda Dean, vice president of the Insurance Bureau of Canada for the Atlantic region.

Dean said the industry gears up for a sharp rise in complaints after a storm like Fiona, and bureau member companies see two common types of complaints: wind damage from flying debris and water damage from trouble. such as backing up sewers or rain entering the house through the roof.

Collect important documents

Dean said that to mitigate flood damage, it’s smart to take valuables out of the basement and keep important documents, including home and car insurance policies, together in a safe place.

“We don’t know what will happen after this type of event is going through our region, so there may be protracted power outages,” Dean said.

“Collect your important documents before the storm, have them all in one place that you can reach if it’s night and you have to leave your home for whatever reason.”

Hurricane Maria in 2011 caused this diving board to rear up before it landed on a tree near Upper Island Cove, NL Maria was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone just hours after landing in Newfoundland. (Courtesy of Kim Newman)

He also said it’s important to check for precarious tree branches near your home or vehicle and bring outdoor items like trash cans and patio furniture indoors.

But there is one thing that people often don’t think they carry inside.

“Whenever we have a hurricane in the region, we always have stories about the trampolines and they are always the most bizarre stories possible,” he said.

“Even if a trampoline is tied in the back yard, it can still fly through the air because a lot of wind can build up underneath and lift it.”

If damage occurs due to wind, rain, or floods, Dean said it’s important to document everything with photographs or videos and detailed notes.

Record rain on Thanksgiving Day 2016 brought a torrent of water that flooded hundreds of homes and businesses in Cape Breton. (Joan Weeks / CBC)

Halifax Fire and Emergency is also preparing for a high volume of calls due to the impending storm.

Pat Kline, acting district chief, said they often get calls during thunderstorms from people trying to heat or light their homes without electricity.

He said people should never use barbecues or generators in their homes and things like stoves and candles can be dangerous if used improperly.

“Be incredibly careful with candles. If you’re using them for lighting, don’t leave them near windows,” Kline said. “A good place for a candle is on a pan on the stove, for lighting and for reheating if needed.”

WATCH | Halifax Fire on how to prepare for Hurricane Fiona

Halifax prepares for Hurricane Fiona

Halifax Regional Chief of Fire and Emergency, Erica Fleck, provides an update on how Atlantic Canadians should prepare as Hurricane Fiona becomes a Category 4 hurricane bound for the Maritimes.

Generator safety

Chris McSweeney, general manager of Bay Equipment Rentals in Tantallon, NS, said he is already seeing increased demand for generator and pump rentals and expects to run out once the storm hits.

“Things are already booking up, so the sooner the better for sure,” McSweeney said. “We’ve had days in the past … where we have absolutely nothing left.”

Halifax Fire and Emergency says it is important to be aware of safety concerns when using generators. (Brian MacKay / CBC)

Kline said if people are using a generator, they should be careful to avoid common safety problems. Generators emit deadly carbon monoxide, so they should be six feet away from a house and any open windows or ventilation that could let gas into the house.

Carbon monoxide “is a very treacherous type of gas because it has no smell, so you don’t know it’s in your house,” Kline said.

He also said not to use the generators in a garage attached to your home or any poorly ventilated shed. Gasoline should be stored in a well-ventilated area in an approved container and not poured into a generator when hot.

For people who have a generator connected to their home, Kline said there is a correct way to do this.

“Make sure an electrician properly installs a hookup in their home so they aren’t messing up the wires in their home, which is an electrical hazard,” he said. “It is also dangerous for the linemen who are working on the lines near their home.”

Cars lined up waiting to get to a petrol pump.
People refueling their cars on Thursday, September 22, 2022, at a service station in Halifax. (Anjuli Patil / CBC)

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