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June 27, 2007
City of Toronto flooding precautions
Environment Canada has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the city of Toronto due to the potential development of severe thunderstorms this afternoon and evening, and the possibility of large hail and damaging winds. In addition, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority has issued a high water safety bulletin warning against dangerous conditions as a result of increased flows and water levels in the city’s rivers and streams.

The City of Toronto encourages residents and businesses to take precautionary steps to protect their property and ensure their safety. High winds and thunderstorms can contribute to flooding and downed trees and power lines. Residents are advised to stay away from rivers and streams, and downed wires and trees that may have an electrical charge. For the most up-to-date weather information, visit Environment Canada’s website at

Protect your property
The City of Toronto advises residents and businesses to take precautions and protect their properties from possible flooding:
• make sure your disconnected downspouts are draining properly, ideally 1.8 meters (six feet) from your basement walls
• as a future measure, consider disconnecting your downspouts from the sewer system by calling the Downspout Disconnection Program at 416-392-1807
• be sure the grading around your home drains water away from all exterior walls
• check for and fix leaks in basement walls, floors, windows and foundations
• clear eavestroughs and downspouts of leaves and other debris preventing proper drainage
• repair or replace damaged weeping tile systems
• rake leaves away from sewer catch basins and other outside drains
• have a plumber or drain company inspect your home’s flood-proofing devices, including back-water valves, sump pumps, floor drains or caps, to ensure they are working properly
• do not pour grease down drains or flush food or other objects down toilets as this will block sewer connections causing sewers to backup during rain storms
• for future reference, consider soft-surface landscaping that allows storm water to soak into the ground rather than run directly into the local sewer systems, such as increased sodded areas and porous pavement
• ensure your flood insurance is up to date.

In the event of a flooded basement:
• call the City of Toronto at 416-338-8888 immediately to report a blocked basement drain or sewer back-up, or for information or assistance with a blocked drain, 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week. During extreme weather conditions residents should expect high call volumes. Calls will be answered by the first available agent.
• call your insurance company as soon as possible to report property damage caused by flooding
• be mindful of your health and safety when cleaning up a flooded basement - do not stand in flood water, call a professional for assistance.

More information about basement flooding is available on the City of Toronto’s website at

Personal preparedness
Being prepared for emergencies such as hurricanes or floods can significantly reduce damage inflicted on your property. With the associated risks of flooded basements and power failures, residents should be ready to be self-sufficient for at least three days. This may mean providing for your own shelter, first aid, food, water and sanitation.

As part of emergency planning, all Toronto residents should have a three-day supply on hand for each family member of the following items:
• drinking water (keep water in containers and fill your bathtub)
• canned food and a manual can opener
• batteries for flashlights and radios
• a first aid kit
• gasoline for your car
• a transistor radio
• cash.

Residents are reminded to:
• keep cell phone batteries charged
• know the locations of all electrical panels, and water and gas shutoff valves in your home
• keep flashlights where you can find them in the dark
• consider using surge protectors to protect sensitive electronic equipment.

There are several ways homeowners can protect themselves and their families in the event of a flood:
• try to remain indoors and move valuable objects out of your basement to avoid water damage
• turn off your basement furnace, outside gas valve, and shut off the electricity
• stay out of the basement if flooding is imminent
• try to limit your driving, especially in low-lying areas where flooding is known to occur
• exercise caution when driving and avoid low lying roadways and underpasses; do not drive through deep water
• if your car gets caught in a flood path, get out of the car and sit on the hood if it is not possible to walk or swim away

For more information and advice about emergency preparedness contact the City of Toronto’s Office of Emergency Management at 416-392-4554, or visit

Residents should call 9-1-1 for emergencies only, including downed power lines. For all other incidents where police are required, call the non-emergency number: 416-808-2222.

Report flooded or damaged expressways by calling 416-392-5555, 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week.

Report road and sidewalk problems to 416-338-9999, during regular business hours.

Report damage to City trees by calling 416-338-TREE (8733) and press the number 2 on the touchtone keypad. The same number can be used after business hours - follow the instructions to obtain an emergency dispatcher. For damaged trees on private property, residents should obtain a private tree service company, some of whom are listed in the Yellow Pages.

As a result of steady or heavy rainfall, including thunderstorms, water levels and flows in the city’s rivers and streams may be higher than normal. Due to high water levels, fast flows, and soft and slippery bank, all rivers and streams should be considered dangerous. Residents are advised to stay away from all watercourses and ensure children are kept inside where they can be supervised.

Tips for Power Outages
Your patience is needed and appreciated during weather-related power outages. Toronto Hydro will work to restore power as quickly as possible.

During an outage:
• unplug or turn off all appliances to avoid possible damage when power resumes
• turn off water to the clothes washer and dishwasher if they are in use when the power goes out
• leave a light or radio on so you will know when power is restored
• when power has been restored, check all fuses to ensure that none have been blown, before calling Toronto Hydro
• plug in only the most essential appliances first, and wait 10 to 15 minutes to give the electrical system time to stabilize before connecting everything else.

How to report a power outage:
• call Toronto Hydro-Electric System’s Lights Out number at 416-542-8000. Add the number to your list of other emergency numbers.

Food Safety
During a power failure, food kept in the refrigerator or freezer may become unsafe to eat. The following tips will help ensure food is stored safely in the event of a power outage:
• keep your refrigerator door closed to maintain the temperature inside. Without power, the refrigerator section will keep foods cool for four to six hours - if the door is kept closed.
• throw out perishable foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and leftovers that have been at temperatures above 4°C for more than two hours
• keep your freezer door closed to maintain the temperature inside. Without power, an upright or chest freezer that is completely full will keep food frozen for about 48 hours - if the door is kept closed. A half-full freezer will keep food frozen for about 24 hours.
• foods that have thawed in the freezer may be refrozen if they still contain ice crystals or are at 4°C or below - evaluate each item separately
• partial thawing and refreezing may reduce the quality of some food, but food will remain safe to eat
• if possible, add bags of ice to the refrigerator and freezer to keep temperatures cooler for a longer period
• discard any items in the freezer or refrigerator that have come into contact with raw meat juices
• if you are in doubt about whether a food item has spoiled, throw it out
• contact your doctor or pharmacist for information about proper storage of medication that requires refrigeration, such as insulin.

For more information about when to keep and when to throw out refrigerated foods, visit

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years Toronto has won more than 50 awards for quality and innovation in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contact:
Rob Andrusevich, Strategic Communications, 416-397-4149, 416-200-3660 (cell)



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