Tour a wind, winter storm and blackout resilient home: Canada's insurers contribute to Emergency Preparedness Week

    TORONTO, May 4 /CNW/ - The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction
(ICLR) invites members of the media to tour a wind, winter storm and blackout
resilient home. As part of the insurance industry's ongoing commitment to
educate Canadian homeowners about disaster safety, ICLR has once again chosen
Emergency Preparedness Week (May 3-9) to unveil its latest home retrofit
project, this time in Toronto, Ontario.

    Where:    84 Martin Grove Road, Etobicoke, Ontario
    When:     Wednesday, May 6 at 10 a.m. - 12 noon

    Paul Kovacs, Executive Director of ICLR, will conduct a media tour of the
home. Says Kovacs: "Toronto, indeed much of Ontario, represents an active zone
for winter storms, high winds and excessive rainfall. What's more, any one of
these perils could contribute to a prolonged power outage. Homeowners living
in the GTA, and in other places in Canada that are subject to different
extremes, can prepare now for hazards that will inevitably strike in the

    The Toronto home retrofit includes:
    -   Installing a natural gas-powered generator as an alternative power
    -   Putting in surge protection on bigger-ticket electronic items
    -   Anchoring cabinets, office equipment, and bedroom furniture to walls
    -   Outfitting the washing machine with armoured water supply hoses
    -   Anchoring the hot water heater to the floor
    -   Securing pictures and mirrors to the walls
    -   Upgrading existing glass with 3M safety and security film.
    -   Installing carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and providing a fire
    -   Installing snow melt cables on roof edges and gutters to prevent the
        formation of ice dams
    -   Providing a disaster preparedness kit.

    A major storm in the GTA on August 19, 2005 marked the costliest natural
catastrophe in Ontario history, the second most expensive on record for the
country. On that day more than 150 millimetres of rain fell on parts of
Toronto in a three-hour deluge that impacted a wide swath of real estate from
Kitchener-Waterloo to Durham Region. Two tornadoes set down in the
Salem/Fergus, Ontario, area, damaging several properties, and a rare tornado
warning was issued for Toronto.
    The now-infamous blizzards of January 1999 dropped 78 centimetres of snow
on Toronto and area less than two weeks after the region was hit with 40
centimetres. The year's worth of snow in just two weeks shut down parts of the
Toronto Transit Commission and GO Transit system and left thousands stranded.
    On October 1954, Hurricane Hazel buffeted the GTA with winds of more than
110 kilometers an hour and dumped over 280 millimetres of rain in just a
48-hour period. Hundreds of people in the Toronto area were left homeless and
81 people lost their lives. It was the highest level of precipitation recorded
in a 12-hour period anywhere in Ontario, a record that still holds today.
    The blackout of 2003 represented a massive power outage that occurred
throughout parts of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States, and in
Ontario on Thursday, August 14, 2003. It was the largest blackout in North
American history, affecting an estimated 10 million people in the province of
Ontario and 40 million people in eight U.S. states. In some parts of the U.S.,
power was not restored for four days.
    According to Kovacs: "We can prevent natural hazards from becoming
disasters by taking appropriate preventative measures now. The actions
showcased in this home are affordable and easy to implement."
    This is the seventh year that ICLR has retrofitted an existing home as
part of Emergency Preparedness Week. In 2008 a home in Montreal was
retrofitted to protect against winter storm and earthquake, and in 2007 a home
in Edmonton was retrofitted to protect against tornado and winter storms. In
2006, a home in Ottawa was made more resilient to earthquakes and winter
storms. In 2005, a home in Vancouver was made more resilient to earthquakes,
and in 2004, a Halifax home was protected against hurricanes. In 2003, a home
in London was made more resilient to tornadoes. The Institute has also
retrofitted child care centres across Canada as part of its "Protecting our
Kids from Disasters" program.

    Established in 1998 by Canada's property and casualty insurers, ICLR is
an independent, not-for-profit research institute based in Toronto and at the
University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. ICLR is a centre of
excellence for disaster loss prevention research and education. ICLR's
research staff is internationally recognized for pioneering work in a number
of fields including wind and seismic engineering, atmospheric sciences, water
resources engineering and economics. Multi-disciplined research is a
foundation for ICLR's work to build communities more resilient to disasters.

For further information:

For further information: Glenn McGillivray, Managing Director, ICLR,
tel. (416) 364-8677, ext. 3216, cell (416) 277-5827, fax (416) 364-5889,

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