Although it is the holiday season and many have celebrated a warm and happy Christmas, there are still tens of thousands without power in Toronto.
We’ve put together the following information to help with some tips on how to stay safe, as well as help you understand what resources you may have in regard to your insurance. Please click on the green bars below to check out each section.
We are wishing all those in Toronto a safe and Happy Holiday season, if you are without power, be safe and follow best practices for keeping your house warm. Check in on neighbours to see how they are doing, especially if they are elderly or use medical equipment powered by electricity. If you need help, please reach out to those around you.
How to keep safe and warm if you are affected by the outage
- Insulation is the best approach to keeping warm during a power outage. You will not be able to keep the entire house warm, however you can minimize drafts by rolling towels or blankets and blocking any air that may be getting in through the bottom of doors or sides of windows. Make sure to wear several layers of loose fitting clothing rather than one heavy layer. Remember that your body loses the most heat from your head, so although you are indoors, wear a hat to keep as warm as possible.
- Turn down the thermostats while the power is out and unplug electrical items during the power outage to avoid power surges and unnecessary drains on the system when the power comes back. This includes your fridge and stove, electronics and computers as well as other appliances that will pull on the power supply as soon as it is available. Once the power comes on, turn your thermostat back up to normal, wait a few minutes and then proceed to plugging in the unplugged appliances and computers. This will prevent damage to your electronics but also contributes to a safe start up of the power without an immediate drain when it comes back on.
- If you go outside, enter and leave as quickly as possible, don’t hold the door open. Every bit of energy conserved counts.
- Don’t stay home if the driving and conditions outside allow you to go out during the day.
Go to a mall, the movies or a restaurant – for example. If these places have power, keeping warm during the hours that you can be in heated locations is important.
Always remember that you may have friends or family that have heat and may be willing to have you stay with them, consider this option, during an emergency communities come together, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Do not use cooking equipment or candles to heat up your home
According to The Canadian Press, as of yesterday 11 people had been taken to hospitals with Carbon Monoxide poisoning in the wake of the storm, and 2 had died. Many are turning to using their stove or other non standard cooking methods for heat, which poses a real danger. Using a barbeque, gas stove, or other methods not meant for heating homes can pose a very real danger as Carbon Monoxide levels increase in the home. Carbon Monoxide is odorless and colorless, you will have no way to know what is happening. Do not turn to any of these methods!
Candles do not generate enough heat to warm up a home, if you find yourself in a situation where you are burning enough candles (or trying to) to keep warm, then you are creating a serious fire and safety hazard to you and your family.
The National Post published a helpful guide with tips on how to survive a power outage, check it out here.
Important: Food Safety Matters
Keep in mind that food that is refrigerated will only continue to be kept at regulated temperatures for a limited time. Even if your home seems cold, it may not be as cold as the food requires to stay fresh and safe. Use caution before eating food that should be regularly refrigerated or frozen after a thaw. Many insurance companies have freezer contents coverage.
Never refreeze thawed or defrosted food!
If you decide to make a claim for lost food as a result of an outage:
Make a list of everything you lost
Take pictures of your fridge before you throw everything out
Be ready to submit this to your insurance company.
Tally up the value of the food lost, find out if your insurance company will make you pay a deductible, and if you will lose your claims free discount if you submit the claim. Make sure that you don’t end up paying more in the long term by making the claim. Claims free discounts can amount to 25% of your insurance – so be sure and get your broker to help you do the math.
What will be covered by insurance from the Toronto Ice Storm?
Important Information/Tip: Contact your insurance broker to find out if you qualify for additional living expenses. If you have a tenant, condo or homeowner policy, you may be eligible. Additional living expenses is the difference between the regular amount of money you pay to live in non emergency situations, vs. the amount of money you must spend in the “covered loss” situation. This can include the difference in cost of restaurants and your regular cost of groceries, the increased cost between a hotel and your regular rent, etc. Contact your insurer for a complete analysis or overview of your coverage and don’t forget to ask them how this claim would affect your future insurance costs, in particular (but not limited to) consequences in regard to the claims free discount you may have on the policy and other effects.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada offered this general advice:
- Damage to homes caused by snow, rain or wind is generally covered. This includes damage caused by flying debris or falling branches or trees, or damage to your home and its contents when water or snow enters through openings caused by high winds.
- Damage to cars from ice, wind or water is typically covered if you have comprehensive or all-perils car insurance. This coverage isn’t mandatory so check your policy.
- In certain circumstances, homeowners who are unable to live in their homes because of insurable damage are entitled to additional living expenses. Ask your insurance representative for more information.
Preventing Damage from The Ice Storm
- If your roof is damaged call your insurance company and get professionals involved; do not go on your roof.
- If there are fallen trees on your property be ware of wires and cabling that may have come down around them. Call your insurance company to see if they can assist you. They will be able to give you sound advice and refer you to professionals that can help. Use their resources, you are not alone.
- Keep snow and ice clear of gas meters, gas appliance vents, exhaust vents and basement windows.
- Completely drain your pipes or leave a tap running on very low to insure the water is flowing so that your pipes don’t freeze.
Tip: Remember that your insurance may provide you with some compensation for losses depending on the type of policy you have, so be sure and check your policy to see if you have All Risk coverage with Additional Living Expenses, or in the case of cars, Section B coverage – (It will say: All Risk, Collision and/or Comprehenisve) – then give your broker or insurance company a call. Insured with Ogilvy? Give us a call! We will look at your policy together and we’ll help you figure it all out – that’s what we’re here for!
Important Notice for our clients: Our Emergency claims line is open.
If you are insured through Ogilvy, please note that our offices are closed for the holidays to allow our employees to have time with their families until December 27th at 8:30 am – However,
We always keep our emergency service line open for our clients to report new claims at 1-800-479-0641
Wishing you all happy holidays, and if you have been affected by the storm, know that authorities and power suppliers, are working hard and pulling all their resources to get you back on track so stay safe in the meantime.