Calm before the storm: Sprinter outages

It’s easy to remain ‘calm before the storm’ when you’re prepared. 

As Ottawans know, spring weather in the nation’s capital is wildly unpredictable, swinging from a freak snowstorm one day to sunny skies reaching 15 degrees celsius the next. Some of us call this Sprinter. 

In the past six years alone, Ottawa has had its share of extreme Sprinter weather events. With too-many-to-count wind storms (including the 2022 derecho), five notable ice storms and at least three floods, climate change is affecting many aspects of our lives. 

As a result of extreme weather causing severe damage to property and infrastructure - and thus, longer power outages - the Canadian Red Cross now recommends that Canadians prepare to be self-sufficient during emergencies for at least 72-hours. 

May 5 to 11 is Emergency Preparedness Week, a national awareness initiative supported by Public Safety Canada. While this event has been receiving more attention lately due to the string of extreme weather incidents over the years, it’s actually been held annually since 1996. 

This important week encourages Canadians to take action and be prepared for a possible emergency. We’ve put together this checklist to help you stay safe, informed and secure in the knowledge that you and your loved ones are prepared for almost anything Sprinter throws our way this season.

May 5 -11 is Emergency Preparedness Week 2024


10 steps to take before the next major storm

  1. A family emergency plan should include a designated meeting place and a list of important information for you and your family members, including medical conditions, allergies, medications, insurance information, key contacts, and pet information. Visit the Emergency Preparedness page on our website to access some of our sample emergency plans.
  2. When recreating our popular ultimate emergency kit, it is good to be mindful of portability. Storing your items in the appropriate container is more important that you may realize. In some situations, you may need to evacuate or be confined to a smaller section of your home, so try and build an emergency kit that is easy to move and is all in one place.
  3. One of the best ways to prepare for a multi-day power outage – especially if you live in a rural area – is to have an additional energy source in place which you can control. A backup generator can provide the power needed to keep the lights on, your food cold, and your devices charged.
  4. A battery-powered sump pump is also an excellent device to have on hand in case of emergencies, particularly if your house has a basement and is susceptible to flooding during heavy rains and storms. While battery-powered sump pumps can help prevent costly water damage during short outages, it is important to have a longer-term back-up plan in place (like a generator) for outages that last beyond 72-hours.
  5. Waterproof caulking compound is a simple and effective way to seal cracks in your basement wall. It is important to use a compound that is specifically designed for waterproofing, as regular caulking can break down over time and allow water to seep through. 
  6. Grading the soil around your home can help to direct water away from the foundation. It is important to slope the soil away from the house so that water flows away from the foundation and does not pool near window wells, walls, exterior stairwells and decks.
    • french drain is a trench filled with gravel that allows water to drain away from the foundation of your home. It is a good option for preventing flooding in basements that are located in areas with high water tables. 
  7. If you live in a building requiring elevator use and have challenges with mobility, notify the building management in advance that you may need assistance. Additionally, if you rely on critical medical devices, ensure you have a backup power supply in place or a plan to relocate to a supportive facility that can assist you.
  8. Gutters play a crucial role in safeguarding a property from water damage by effectively channeling rainwater away from the roof and foundation. To ensure they perform optimally, it is essential to keep gutters free from leaves, twigs, dirt and other debris. 
  9. Our Weather Watch emails notify you about a possible event that poses a potential risk to our power system. As soon as we know, you’ll know about it, too. In some cases, days before a weather event hits. If we have your email address on file or through your MyAccount portal, you’re already enrolled for this service. 
  10. Whether you prefer SMS/text or an email, you’ll receive timely outage alerts from us about planned and unplanned outages in your area, as well as estimated times of restoration, crew updates and confirmation when power has been restored. To sign up for outage alerts, log in to MyAccount, select the Account icon, go to the Manage Profile tab, and click Outage Alerts. You can add up to five emails or two mobile phone numbers to your account so everyone stays informed. 

Important safety tip: Stay in your home only as long as you are safe, warm and have food and water. Emergency Warming Centres will be opened by the City of Ottawa should an emergency be declared. You can go there to get information, to stay warm, and for comfort and food. Locations will be broadcast on local radio and TV stations, as well as on the City’s Emergency Preparedness page and 3-1-1 hotline. We will also share these locations on our channels.

Remember, even the wildest storms eventually pass. And now that you’re prepared for an Ottawa Sprinter, you will be able to weather any of them.

Which action items from our list will you tackle in honour of Emergency Preparedness Week? Leave us a rating on this blog below, and then provide a comment.




Was this page useful container
Hidden Group

We'd like to hear from you

text and star group