What to Do In Case of an Emergency
Emergencies and disasters can occur anytime, anywhere. Some are seasonal, allowing you to prepare in advance. Others occur swiftly and without warning. Planning ahead and preparing for your family's needs can make a big difference in your ability to cope. You can lessen the impact of an emergency or disaster by knowing what to do before, during and after one occurs.
The information sheets below provide general information for personal and family emergency preparedness for a variety of natural and man-made disasters and emergencies.
During a Disaster
- You are expected to survive for 72 hours on your own
- After 72 hours, authorities will contact you and re-locate you to the Disaster Response Center
- You will need a battery powered radio so authorities can contact you.
- Never enter a damaged building, even if it looks safe
- You can obtain water from a water heater, toilet tank or melted ice cubes
- Boil contaminated water for 5 minutes or add 1 drop of bleach per litre. Let stand 30 seconds before drinking
- Disinfect floodwater in basement by mixing 2 litres of bleach into it every 3 days.
- Stay away and alert authorities if you see hanging power lines or damaged pipes
How to react to a Chemical Spill
- Close all doors, windows, and ventilation systems
- Seal off all gaps (around windows, vents, pipes, etc.) with wet towels, duct tape, or plastic sheeting
- Go into a secure room in the middle of the house, above ground
- Cover mouth with a cloth while leaving area
- Close windows and vents, and shut off the AC/heating system
A family emergency plan will help you and your family know what to do in case of an emergency. Every Canadian household needs an emergency plan.
It will take you about 20 minutes to complete your personalized plan online. You can then print it out. Before starting your home emergency plan, you will need to think about:
- Safe exits from home and neighbourhood
- Meeting places to reunite with family or roommates
- Designated person to pick up children should you be unavailable
- Contact persons close-by and out-of-town
- Health information
- Place for your pet to stay
- Risks in your region
- Location of your fire extinguisher, water valve, electrical box, gas valve and floor drain
How to react in a Thunderstorm
- Stay away from windows, doors, fireplaces, stoves, and any other conductive material
- Unplug appliances
- Shelter in ditch (if not raining) or building
- Remove all metal objects
- If in an open area, crouch forward, with feet together, elbows on knees, and hands on ears (creates the smallest possible path for lightning to travel through your body)
- Never lie flat on the ground
- Stay away from trees, power lines, fences, and raised areas
- Avoid using bicycle or motorbike
- Stop car well away from power lines and trees
- Do not touch any metal objects
- Feeling your hair stand on end indicates that lightning is about to strike
How to react in a Tornado
- Go into basement if possible
- Crouch under heavy furniture, in closet, or a small room well away from windows and sides of house
- Get out of mobile house
- Wrap self in blanket
- Go into ditch or ravine
- Be aware of bridges or overpasses that could collapse
- Abandon immediately, the wind will flip your car
- Many say tornados sound like a freight train
- Use a flash light and never a candle (there may be broken gas lines)
Who does what in an emergency?
When it comes to emergency preparedness and emergency management, we all have a role to play.
Individuals and families
Individuals take steps ahead of time to prepare themselves and their families for emergencies. You should be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for a minimum of 72 hours during an emergency. You should also understand the basic principles of first aid and safety.
Every disaster is a local disaster. Different levels of organizations respond progressively as an emergency escalates and their resources are needed. The first ones to respond are closest to the emergency.
First Responders – i.e. fire, police, paramedics
Local fire, police, paramedic, and search and rescue teams are normally the first to respond to an emergency. They are responsible for managing most local emergencies as part of the municipal emergency plan. Find out more about the emergency plan in your area by contacting your emergency management organization (EMO).
There are several non-profit, non-government organizations (NGOs) that play very important roles in emergency management, including disaster prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Some examples include the Canadian Red Cross, St. John Ambulance and The Salvation Army. They work in partnership with governments to help Canadians deal with emergencies, from providing first aid training to disaster relief.
Provincial and territorial governments
Every province and territory has an emergency management organization (EMO), which manages large-scale emergencies and provides assistance to municipal or community response teams as required. EMOs fulfill an important role in support of first responders and municipalities. Federal departments and agencies support provincial or territorial EMOs as requested. They also manage emergencies that involve areas of federal jurisdiction, such as nuclear safety, national defense and border security.
How to react in a Winter Storm
- Keep residence cooler than usual.
- Block off most areas of house and anywhere cold air can enter building
- Stay together in one room.
- Have many layers and blankets
- Stay hydrated Insulate frozen pipes with newspapers
- Do not bring outdoor heating systems (ie. barbeque) into house
- Cover mouth to prevent cold air from getting in lungs
- Seek shelter
- Keep moving to increase circulation
- It is crucial to stay with your car
- Tie a brightly coloured cloth to your antenna or window
- Run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes per hour, during this time open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and periodically clear snow from exhaust pipe (to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning)
- Move arms and legs continuously to keep your blood circulating
- Use anything available for insulation
- Alternate sleeping, so someone is awake to watch for rescue crews at all times