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Natural disaster preparation and recovery

Hurricanes, tropical storms, and tornadoes can have devastating consequences for home and businesses in Canada. The conditions that follow these natural disasters, including flooding and scattered debris, can create safety hazards and situations that are conducive to pest infestations. Many pests, including snakes, fire ant colonies, rodents, and more can be present in flood waters. Standing water also makes for the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. In addition, flood waters may contain human waste, chemicals, fuels, or other substances that can be harmful to humans.

The Rentokil experts put together practical tips for Canadian homes and businesses to help with your storm preparation and recovery efforts.

Natural disaster tips for commercial businesses


A clearly outlined communications plan will keep you and your team functioning as a unit during a natural disaster threat. Ensure that you have a contingency plan in place for deciding when to close or offer alternate operations (e.g., limited menu or changed shift schedule) and that all employees know their roles. Emergency numbers and contact lists should be available for employees in Canadian businesses and should include:

  • Managers
  • Canadian Red Cross
  • Public health authorities
  • Bottled/potable water and dry ice suppliers
  • Regional/Corporate offices
  • Water and sewer facilities
  • Other necessary government or municipal agencies
  • Equipment rental, including refrigerator truck or equipment
  • Police
  • Gas utilities
  • Plumber
  • Fire department
  • Electric company


In the event that your business is advised to close, it is important that you, your employees and customers follow evacuation orders to protect your safety. A few additional steps may help you protect your building in the event of significant storm damage.

  • If power outages are expected, avoid excessive opening and closing of freezers and refrigerators.
  • If the power does go out, record product temperatures over time so that you can assess food safety.
  • If a storm is imminent or if your facility is evacuated, shut off the gas supply to any gas-powered equipment.
  • Clear debris from gutters, drains and downspouts to allow for proper drainage from the roof. This could help prevent roof damage and flooding in your facility.
  • Board windows or protect them with tape. Closing curtains and blinds may help offer some protection against broken glass.
  • Secure any objects, both outdoor and indoor, that could be blown away by strong winds. Outdoors, this may include seating and tables, hostess stations, umbrellas, planters, signage and other decorative items. Inside, this includes kitchen items such as knives, cutting boards, pans, etc.
  • Ensure all exits are clear in case a sudden evacuation becomes necessary.
  • Have all company vehicles fueled in case evacuation or relocation is necessary. In addition, consider advising employees to have enough fuel in their cars to relocate to safer areas.

Pest prevention after a storm

  • Fire ants can relocate by floating during flooding. If you spy a fire ant raft, do not attempt to treat it with pesticides. That can further contaminate flood waters.
  • Mosquitoes may be highly active in the days and weeks following a severe storm and could spread diseases such as West Nile virus and Zika virus.
  • Report dead birds. Certain species of birds are very susceptible to West Nile virus.
  • Wear insect repellents during cleanup efforts. Apply repellent to both exposed skin and clothing. Reapply as necessary, especially if working in water or sweating.
  • Remove all debris from exterior areas. Pests will look for opportunities and may make their home or build nests in piles of leaves and other debris.
  • Repair any structural damage as soon as possible. Holes, gaps and weakened structures can provide an open door for rodents to enter your facility. Remember, mice and rats can fit through openings as small as ¼-inch.
  • Be vigilant about monitoring for pest issues in the days following a storm. Record any pest sightings and contact your pest management company immediately if you notice increased activity.
  • Assess exterior areas for standing water. This includes landscaping, parking lots, and the roof of your building, among others. You may need to contact outside resources to help remove the water if it is not freely draining.
  • If your facility has already flooded, remove and discard saturated carpets.

Natural disaster tips for residential homes

Emergency preparedness supplies are a good idea to have on hand at all times in your home. Consider having the following items on hand if a major storm is in the forecast:

  • Flashlights
  • First aid supplies
  • Hand sanitiser or wipes
  • Tarps, ropes, and plastic bags
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Non-perishable packaged or canned food
  • Plywood for boarding windows
  • Extra batteries
  • Bottled water
  • Blankets and pillows

Food safety

Follow the food safety tips below to protect your family from the dangers of food-borne illnesses after a storm.


  • Porous food contact surfaces such as wooden cutting boards, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers, as well as paper napkins or paper towels
  • Unpackaged food exposed to flood water
  • Any vegetables or fruits exposed to flood water (including those in gardens)
  • Food in packaging that may have permitted flood water to enter or that has been exposed to flood waters; examples include flour in bags, foods such as cereals, crackers, pasta, etc. in cardboard boxes, or drinks in screw cap bottles
  • Canned foods that have damage to their seams, swelling or dents
  • Cans with snap tops, pull tops and home canned foods
  • Frozen foods that have thawed to a temperature of above 5°C for more than four hours
  • If you are unsure how long a frozen food was above 5°C, discard it.
  • If power was disrupted, refrigerated food will likely have to be discarded. If you are unsure, discard food to be safe.


  • Canned foods that are not damaged — but labels should be removed and cans disinfected before opening
  • Frozen food that is still below 5°C and has not been exposed to flood water

Hurricane Fiona caused major devastation to eastern Atlantic Canada in provinces such as Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Toronto. Flooding in Canada along with a damaging storm surge has led to massive power outages and many other issues. Homes and businesses in these areas can follow the protocols above to stay safe from extreme weather across Canada.

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