fbpx

Emergency Preparedness Week

Emergency Preparedness Week is a national event supported by Public Safety Canada, working closely with provincial and territorial emergency management organizations, Indigenous organizations, non-governmental organizations, and private sector organizations who support activities at the local level. This year, the theme is Be Prepared. Know Your Risks. The intent of the theme is to encourage Canadians to understand the risks in their area and learn what actions they can take to protect themselves and their families.

Across Canada, we face a number of natural hazards, which can vary from region to region. Knowing what to do during an emergency is an important part of being prepared.

Making a plan and refreshing ourselves of things to do in an emergency can help us stay calm and get though a situation more easily.

I’ve gathered some quick tips from the Get Prepared website for everyone to use as a guide for information on what to do in the different situations we could face across our province.

The first step is to make a plan.

Every household needs an emergency plan. It will help you and your family know what to do in an emergency – and it only takes 20 minutes. Make the plan part of your emergency kit.

Get an emergency kit

In an emergency you will need some basic supplies. You may need to get by without power or tap water. Be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. Make sure your kit is easy to carry and everyone in the household knows where it is.

Emergency Kit List

  • Water – at least 2 litres per person per day
  • Food that won’t spoil, such as canned food, energy bars, and dried foods
  • Manual can opener
  • Crank or battery-powered flashlight (and extra batteries)
  • Crank or battery-powered radio (and extra batteries)
  • First aid kit
  • Extra keys (vehicle and home)
  • Cash in smaller bills, and change for payphones
  • A copy of your emergency plan and contact information
  • Special items such as prescription medication, infant formula, and equipment for people with disabilities
  • Make note of where your emergency kit is located

It is recommended to update your plan each year.

During an emergency

The following steps should be taken in emergency situations:

  • Make sure you are safe before assisting others.
  • Follow your emergency plan.
  • Get your emergency kit.
  • Monitor radio, television and online for information from authorities. Follow their instructions.
  • Stay put until it is safe or you are ordered to evacuate.
  • Limit phone calls to urgent messages only. Keep the lines free for emergency responders.

Using technology during a disaster

We rely on technology more and more to keep in touch with our family, friends, and colleagues with a click of a button. But what happens in the event of a major emergency? Suddenly these tools can become vital in helping you and your family deal get in touch and stay informed. So here are some tips on the use of technology in an emergency:

  • If possible, use non-voice channels like text messaging, email or social media. These use less bandwidth than voice communications and may work even when phone service doesn’t.
  • If you must use a phone, keep your conversation brief and convey only vital information to emergency personnel and/or family. This will also conserve your phone’s battery.
  • Unable to complete a call? Wait 10 seconds before redialing to help reduce network congestion. Note, cordless phones rely on electricity and will not work during a power outage. If you have a landline, keep at least one corded phone in your home.
  • Keep a charger for your mobile device in your emergency kit. Consider getting a solar-powered, crank, or vehicle phone charger. If you don’t have a cell phone, keep a prepaid phone card in your emergency kit.
  • Keep your contacts up to date on your phone, email and other channels. This will make it easier to reach important contacts, such as friends, family, neighbours, child’s school, or insurance agent.
    If you have a smartphone, save your safe meeting location(s) on its mapping application.
  • Conserve your smartphone’s battery by reducing the screen’s brightness, placing your phone in airplane mode, and closing apps you are not using. You never know how long a power outage will last!

Remember, in an emergency or to save a life, call 9-1-1 for help. You cannot currently text 9-1-1. If you are not experiencing an emergency, do not call 9-1-1. If your area offers 3-1-1 service or another information system, call that number for non-emergencies.

During an emergency monitor radio, television and online for information from authorities. Call 9-1-1 (where available) to report a fire, a crime, or to save a life. For non-emergency calls, use the 10-digit number in your local phone directory.

Having family contacts, an out-of-town emergency contact, and other emergency contacts like your family doctor, veterinarian, pharmacy, and poison control listed in an easy accessible place that includes a name, two phone numbers (if possible), email, and home address.

Severe storms

During severe storms:

  • If possible, take shelter in a building and stay indoors.
  • Monitor radio, television and online for weather warnings and instructions from authorities.
  • If you have time, secure items that might be blown around or torn loose, such as lawn furniture.
  • Stay away from windows, doors, and fireplaces.
  • If you are driving, stop your car away from trees or power lines.

Hurricanes

If you are inside:

  • Stay in a safe place; hurricane winds can quickly change in opposite direction or grow stronger.
  • Avoid using a corded phone and stay away from items that conduct electricity.
  • If you live on the coast or in a low-lying area near the coast, move inland and to higher ground.

If you are outside:

  • Do not go to the shore to watch the storm.
  • If you are on the water, head for shore immediately.

Thunder and lightning storms

If you are inside:

  • Unplug radios, TVs, and appliances. Use a battery-operated or wind-up radio to listen for weather warnings and instructions from authorities.
  • Avoid using a corded phone and stay away from items that conduct electricity.
  • If there is hail, stay away from windows, glass doors, and skylights.

If you are outside:

  • Find safe shelter immediately, preferably in a building with plumbing and wiring.
  • If you are driving, stop your vehicle away from trees or power lines.
  • If you are on the water, head for the shore immediately and find safe shelter.

Floods

If flooding is imminent:

  • Turn off basement furnace and main gas valves. Unplug appliances and electronics.
  • Shut off electricity only if flooding has not yet begun and area around electrical panel is dry.
  • Move furniture and important belongings above ground level.
  • Plug basement sewer drains and shut off toilet connections.

If flooding has already begun:

  • If you have not already shut off electricity, do not attempt to do so once water has entered your home.
  • Do not enter a flooded basement that may contain live wires or appliances.

After a flood:

  • Do not return home until authorities advise it is safe.
  • If the main power switch was not turned off prior to flooding, do not re-enter your home until a qualified electrician has determined it is safe.
  • Use extreme caution when returning to your home after a flood.

Power outages

  • Check if the power outage is limited to your home. If your neighbours have power, check your circuit breakers.
  • If your neighbours’ power is also out, contact your electrical supply company.
  • Turn off all tools, appliances, electronics, and all but one light inside and outside.
  • Use your thermostat to turn off heating or air conditioning.
  • Avoid opening your freezer or fridge.
  • Do not use barbeques, camping heating equipment, or home generators indoors. They can produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
  • Monitor a crank or battery-powered radio and online for weather warnings and instructions from authorities.
  • If possible, use a battery or crank-powered light source. If you must use candles, use proper candle holders. Never leave lit candles unattended. Always extinguish candles before going to bed.

When the power returns:

  • In cold weather, turn heating back on first, then wait 10 minutes before reconnecting everything else.
  • Check food supplies. If a freezer door has been kept closed, food should stay frozen for 24-36 hours. Food contaminated with bacteria does not necessarily smell or look spoiled. When in doubt, throw it out.

Wildfires

  • Be prepared to evacuate at any time. If told to evacuate, take your emergency kit with you.
  • Monitor radio, television or online for up-to-date information on the fire, possible road closures and instructions from authorities.

If you have time:

  • Close all windows and doors.
  • Move combustible materials such as light curtains and furniture away from windows.
  • Turn on lights in the house, porch, garage and yard to aid visibility.
  • Turn off propane or natural gas.
  • Move all combustibles outside away from the house, including firewood, propane barbecues and lawn furniture.
  • Cover vents, windows, and other openings of the house with duct tape and/or precut pieces of plywood.
  • Park your vehicle positioned forward out of the driveway. Keep windows closed and pack valuables and your emergency kit in the vehicle.

Evacuation order

If you are ordered to evacuate your home or town:

  • Follow instructions from authorities.
  • Take your emergency kit, plan, medications, wallet, identification, and cell phone.
  • Shut off water, electricity and gas if instructed to do so.
  • Notify your out-of-town contact and leave a note inside indicating when you left and where you are going (if time permits).
  • Lock your home.
  • Use specified routes and pay attention to information on road closures. Stay off any identified “disaster response routes” which are for emergency responders only.
  • Do not cross a flooded area by foot or in a vehicle. If your vehicle stalls in fast-rising waters, abandon it.
  • Register with a local reception centre in person or by phone.
  • Do not return home until authorities advise it is safe.

Blizzards

If you are inside:

  • Have your emergency kit ready.
  • If you have time, string a rope between your house and any outbuildings you may have to go to during the storm.

If you must go outside:

  • Be aware that you can become quickly disoriented and may get frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Wear a hooded jacket, hat, mittens and warm footwear.
  • Do not try to walk to another building in low visibility without something to guide you.
  • If you must travel, do so in daylight and let someone know your plans.

If your vehicle becomes stuck:

  • Stay in your vehicle. Open the window slightly for fresh air. Run the engine for 10 minutes every half hour unless the exhaust pipe is blocked.
  • To keep warm, exercise your hands and feet periodically.
  • If shoveling, avoid overexerting yourself. Overexertion in the bitter cold can cause death as a result of a heart attack or hypothermia from sweating.
  • Keep a lookout for traffic or searchers.

Ice storms

If you are inside stay indoors unless you are told to evacuate.

If you must go outside:

  • Pay attention to high branches or wires that could break and fall.
  • Stay well away from power lines, as hanging wires may be charged (live).
  • Avoid driving. Wait several hours after freezing rain ends to allow for road maintenance.

Helping children prepare

Helping kids prepare for emergencies by teaching them about natural hazards like hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, ice storms, and blizzards –and what to do when they occur, can help you and your family get through an emergency easier.

  • Make a family emergency plan, and preparing an emergency kit together.
  • Teach your kids what to do in case of a fire.
  • Make sure your kids know what to do at school if an emergency happens.

Tips for helping kids cope

  • Children in particular can feel the stress deeply — and may react in different ways. The key to helping your children cope is simply by being there and making them feel safe.
  • Take their fears seriously and tell them that it’s okay to be scared.
  • Explain the events as best you can and acknowledge what’s frightening about what happened.
  • Tell your kids what you think and feel. Doing so helps them feel less alone if they know that their feelings are similar to yours.
  • Maintain familiar routines, like mealtimes and regular bedtime hours.
  • While parents can play a huge role in helping children deal with anxiety, it may be helpful to talk to a professional such as a psychologist or social worker, who can help children understand and cope with their emotions.

Did you know…
Younger children may cry, whine, or wet the bed in emergency situations. Older children may experience an intense fear of injury or separation anxiety. Other common reactions include a fear of the dark, physical pain, and eating or sleeping problems.