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Woman calling for help in a snow covered car

Emergency assistance calls triple on Code Red days.
Know what to expect when you call!

On an average winter day, CAA North & East Ontario (CAA NEO) receives about 500 calls for roadside assistance. But on extremely cold days, that number can triple. Phone lines are jammed with calls for dead batteries. That’s right – snow and blizzards aren’t the main culprit – it’s the cold temperatures!

“Snow doesn’t drive our call volumes up as much as the cold does,” says Michael Schmidt, Automotive Services, CAA NEO. That’s because extreme cold can cause batteries to fail – and the surge in calls can lead to longer wait times for Members.

“We call them Code Red days,” says Schmidt. Any day that is -25°C or colder, or when there are several cold days in a row in the range of -20°C.

To prepare, the Club hires and trains seasonal workers, and pulls in staff from other departments to take calls for emergency roadside assistance.

Even with the additional help, you may still encounter a longer than normal wait on the phone. Schmidt says, “We try to get to each caller as quickly as we can. To do that, we prioritize our calls. First priority is stranded Members who are in an unsafe location and have nowhere to go to keep warm.”

“When it’s -25°C, that’s a dangerous situation with real risks, and we want to get to those calls first. Second priority is when the caller is in a safe location - for example a mall or the library. Whatever the location, they’re safe and warm,” he explains.

“Our third priority is Members that need help, but they’re at home.  We try to get to them as soon as we can – after helping those in true emergency situations.”

From the moment you call until we arrive to help, CAA NEO stays in touch.  All service calls are monitored continuously, and you’ll be notified immediately of any change to our estimated time of arrival.  

Even during the worst that winters throws at us - Code Red days don’t stop us from coming to your aid! Count on CAA!