September 22, 2018 2:21 pm
Updated: September 22, 2018 5:05 pm

Stay safe: What you need to know in the aftermath of the Ottawa-Gatineau tornado

WATCH: People picking up the pieces after tornado rips through Ottawa neighbourhood


Residents of Ottawa and Gatineau, Que. continue to deal with the aftermath of the tornado that touched down in the National Capital Region on Friday.

Some 130,000 people in Ottawa and 114,000 in Quebec remain without power.

READ MORE: Ottawa residents could be without power for days after tornado devastates Hydro One station

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Here’s what you need to know about food, shelter and dealing with the power outage.

Living with a power outage

The Canadian Red Cross recommends listening to a battery-powered or wind-up radio to stay informed, and keep emergency numbers near your landline telephone.

Appliances and electronic equipment should be turned off to prevent damage from a power surge when power is eventually restored.

As for lighting, candles pose a fire hazard so authorities recommend using flashlights instead.

WATCH: Homes left in pieces after tornado blows through Ottawa neighbourhood

With hydro crews working feverishly to restore power, you can lend them a helping hand by keeping one light inside and one light outside turned on, so that they can tell when power has been restored to your home.

The Red Cross suggests avoiding travelling by car, because traffic lights will be out and road conditions may be hazardous.

Downed power lines are a common sight in many parts of the Ottawa region this weekend. Hydro Ottawa urges people to assume that all downed power lines are live and dangerous.

If you’re using a generator, Hydro Ottawa recommends doing so outdoors because exhaust fumes can cause carbon monoxide poisoning in the absence of proper venting.


Ottawa Public Health recommends keeping refrigerator and freezer doors closed unless absolutely necessary. An unopened refrigerator can keep foods cold for around four hours without power, while a freezer can keep food frozen for up to 26 hours if its door remains closed.

WATCH: Drone surveys damage from tornado that touched down in Dunrobin

IN PHOTOS: Ottawa-area tornado leaves broken power lines, levelled homes, fallen trees in its wake

Thawed food that has been sitting at room temperature for more than two hours should be thrown out, according to Ottawa Public Health, which calls for a “When in doubt, throw it out” approach towards dealing with food.

Officials on Saturday urged people in the Ottawa area to stockpile food and water.

WATCH: Suspected tornado rips through Quebec neighbourhood

Shelter options

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said people in the Hunt Club Road and Riverside Drive area can seek shelter at the Canterbury Recreation Centre at 2185 Archer St.

People in Dunrobin can head to the West Carleton High School at 3088 Dunrobin Rd.

Gatineau authorities opened a relief centre on the Gabrielle-Roy campus of Cégep de l’Outaouais at 333 Boulevard de la Cité-des-Jeunes.

WATCH: Trees uprooted, cars damaged as tornado touches down in Gatineau

Contact numbers

Emergency calls can be placed to 911, and non-emergency queries to 311.

The City of Ottawa said its 311 service was experiencing extremely high call volumes, and asked people to only call for urgent matters.

WATCH: Police in Ottawa ask people to stay away from tornado-affected area

How to help

Mayor Watson said there is no need for volunteers at this time, but a contact number will be provided for donations later this weekend.

Canadians can also contact the Canadian Red Cross Society at 1-800-419-1111 (Ontario) and 1-800-363-7305 (Quebec).

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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