Make a Plan
In an emergency, your family may not be together, or you may be asked to evacuate your home. Thinking about what you would do in different situations and preparing a plan with every member of your family is the first step to being prepared.
Emergency Management Rating
Municipal StatusROUTINE GREEN
Municipal StatusENHANCED YELLOW
Municipal StatusEMERGENCY RED
Municipal StatusRECOVERY GREY
What should your plan include?
During an emergency, it may be easier to reach someone using text messaging or social media or to make a long-distance call than to call someone locally (due to network damage or a jammed system). Discuss with your family which way(s) you will try to get in touch with each other. Identify one or two out-of-town contacts you and your loved ones can call or text message to connect and share information. Be sure they live far enough away so they will not likely be affected by the same emergency.
Make sure everyone in your family, as well as your two key contacts, knows how to use text messaging. During emergencies, these messages may often get through even when phone calls may not. Always keep your communications devices fully charged.
In case you are asked to evacuate your home, or even your area, select two safe locations you could go to. One should be nearby, such as a local library or community centre. The other one should be farther away, outside your neighbourhood, in case the emergency affects a large area.
You should also plan how you would travel to a safe location if evacuation was advised. Have an emergency survival kit ready to take with you, that’s Step 2. If you have pets, think of someone who can take your pet(s) if you have to leave your home. Often, only service animals are allowed at reception centres.
Review of Safety in Your Home
Make sure everyone in your family knows how to safely exit your home—by the main exit and an alternate one. Be sure to consider your living situation. For instance, if you live in a high-rise and have special needs, talk to your building manager or neighbours to make special arrangements, if necessary.
Keep a listing of emergency numbers at the ready and make sure all members of your family know where they are. Teach children when and how to dial 9-1-1 and other key numbers they may need to call. Here are some numbers you should consider having on this list:
- 9-1-1 (where available)
- Family Doctor
- Poison control
- Family & friends who can lend support in a crisis
- Insurance contact
- Utility companies
Follow general household safety rules for smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers. More information on how many to have, where to place them, how often to check and replace them can be obtained from your local fire department.
Every adult in your family, as well as older children, should also know how to turn off main utilities—water, electricity, gas. In certain emergencies, authorities will ask that these be turned off for safety reasons. Write out instructions, if needed, and post somewhere visible. Everyone should also know where the floor drain is located and ensure that it is not obstructed, in case of flooding.
Make copies of important documents (insurance, main identification documents like driver’s licence and passport, birth and marriage certificates, wills). Keep with your plan in a safe place. Consider sharing copies with out-of-town family members or keep a set in a safety deposit box.
Inquire at your workplace, and your child’s school or daycare about their emergency plans. Find out about their evacuation plans and how they will contact family in an emergency. Make sure that you keep all relevant contact information up to date at work and at your child’s school or daycare, and make sure any people designated to pick up your child are familiar with your emergency plan.
Think of your neighbours. Identify anyone who may need assistance during an emergency and discuss a plan with them and other neighbours. For instance, help them prepare an emergency plan and survival kit, and arrange to check in on that person during an emergency, like a power outage.
If you or anyone in your family has special needs, be sure your plan reflects them. For instance, for someone with special medical needs or a medical condition, you may want to include in your plan a medical history, copies of prescriptions, information for key health-care contacts. Your emergency kit should also contain extra medications and supplies. You may not have access to conveniences, such as pharmacies, immediately after an emergency has occurred. It is also a good idea to teach others about any special needs, such as how to use medical equipment or administer medicine.
When your plan is ready
- Discuss your plan with other family and friends so they know what you would do in an emergency.
- Keep your plan in an easy to reach location. A good place is with your emergency kit. Make sure everyone in your family knows where to find it.
- Once a year, review your plan with the entire family. Update it to reflect any changes you want to make.
- Refresh your survival kit at the same time, with new food, water and other supplies.
Build an Emergency Survival Kit
Your emergency survival kit should have everything you and your family would need to be safe and take care of yourselves for at least three days immediately following an emergency.
The following list is broken down into the essentials, items you may need to meet your family’s unique needs, and items to have ready in case you have to leave your home.
What to put in your survival kit
Make sure you pack the essentials into your kit. This includes:
- Food (non-perishable and easy-to-prepare items, enough for 3 days) and a manual can opener
- Bottled water (4 litres per person for each day)
- Radio (crank or battery-run)
- Extra batteries
- First-aid kit
- Candles and matches/lighter
- Hand sanitizer or moist towelettes
- Important papers (identification, contact lists, copies of prescriptions, etc.)
- Extra car keys and cash
- Whistle (to attract attention, if needed)
- Zip-lock bag (to keep things dry)
- Garbage bags
Make special considerations for:
- Items for babies and small children—diapers, formula, bottles, baby food, comfort items
- Prescription medication
- Medical supplies and equipment
- Pet food and supplies
- Any other items specific to your family’s needs
Some extra supplies to add may include:
- Clothes, shoes
- Sleeping bags or blankets
- Personal items (soap, toothpaste, shampoo, comb, other toiletries)
- Playing cards, travel games, other activities for children
- Pack the contents of your kit in an easy-to-carry bag(s) or a case on wheels.
- Store your kit in a place that is easy to reach, and ensure that everyone in your family knows where it is.
- Your kit does not have to be built overnight. Spread your shopping over a few weeks. Purchase a few items every time you go to the store.
- Your water supply is meant to cover what you would drink as well as what you might need for food preparation, hygiene and dishwashing.
- Check and refresh your kit twice a year—when the clocks shift to/from daylight savings time is a good time. Check all expiry dates and replace food and water with a fresh supply. Check batteries and replace as needed.
- Keep your cell phone or mobile device fully charged.
The family pet is an important and loving part of your household. Like family members, pets are also affected by emergencies. When building your family emergency plan, do not forget to include pet needs and remember to create a pet emergency survival kit, just as you would other members of your family. A little advance planning means your pet will also be cared for during an emergency.
- Find out about your municipality’s evacuation centre locations and related pet policies.
- Make photocopies of important veterinary documents such as vaccination records, to store in your pet survival kit.
- Contact the hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check on their policy on accepting pets during an emergency. Be sure to ask if they have restrictions on the number, size and type of pet.
- Ask friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they would shelter your pet(s) in an emergency.
- Include your pet in any local or family emergency drills and exercises.
- Consider setting up a buddy system with your neighbour so they will take care of your pet if you are not home in the event of an emergency.
During emergencies, remember that your child looks to you for guidance and comfort. Children follow their parent’s lead. The calmer you are, the calmer they will be.
- Talk with your children about emergencies that are common to your community and how to prepare for them.
- Have children help you put together your family emergency plan and household’s emergency survival kit.
- Practice family evacuation drills regularly and talk about why you are doing it. Children will not be as frightened because there will be some familiarity.
- Learn more about what you need to include in your emergency survival kit for infants and toddlers.
- It is important to talk to children openly and honestly about what is happening. Try to explain the nature of the problem in a way they will understand. Also explain what is being done to correct it.
- Never dismiss their fears or anxieties. Let children know they can ask questions.
- Listen to what they have to tell you. Be patient with them.
- Allow them to express what they are feeling, for example, by drawing a picture.
- You should try to monitor what they watch on television. News coverage of certain emergency situations can be distressing for children.
An emergency situation or an evacuation can be a frightening and confusing time. It is important that seniors be educated about the potential for emergencies, the steps to take to be prepared and, the programs and services available to help get them through the emergency and return to their regular routine.
In addition to the basic emergency survival kit, it is essential that seniors being evacuated during emergencies take all equipment or devices they may need immediately with them.
- Assistive devices such as canes, walkers, hearing aids, breathing apparatus, etc.
- Prescription eyewear and footwear
- Extra medications and vitamin supplements
- Copies of prescriptions
- Extra dentures (if required) and cleanser
- Personal papers, identification
- List of names and telephone numbers (such as family members, doctor, case worker, seniors’ group contact person, etc.)
For more information about Emergency Services, contact our Fire Chief
We understand that there was a lot of information here. We wanted to make sure you and your family are safe and know what to do, should anything ever happens. If you have any additional questions, please email us.
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