With the power outages many people across Ontario have experienced this winter, it’s a good idea to be prepared for a winter emergency in case the weather turns. Going without electricity for a few hours is manageable but when that timeframe stretches into days or a week, even the most prepared family will experience hardships.

The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management offers these tips to make sure Ontarians are ready for winter emergencies. A few simple steps will help families prepare their homes and cars for emergencies or winter power outages:

• Organize an emergency survival kit. Every Ontario family should have a kit in their home that includes, food, water, a flashlight and medication needed to be safe for at least three days after a disaster.

• Inspect your existing kit to replace any out-of-date food or beverages.

• Install or inspect smoke and carbon monoxide alarms – they can be electrically powered, battery powered, or a combination of both.

• Have a winter driving survival kit in your car that includes a shovel, blanket, extra clothing and footwear.

• In a power outage, use flashlights or battery-operated lanterns instead of candles or hurricane lamps. If you must use a candle, place it in a secure holder, cover it with a glass chimney, and keep it away from children and pets.

• Ensure that you use portable generators, space heaters and barbecues safely.

• If you must be outside during cold weather or a snowstorm, avoid overexertion, wear several layers of clothing, wear waterproof and insulated boots and regularly check for frostbite.

• If you lose heating in your home, keep water running, even at a trickle, to help prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.