Emergency Planning 101: Have a plan
Are you ready for an emergency?
A Statistics Canada Survey of Emergency Preparedness a few years ago found that 60 per cent of Canadians didn’t have an escape plan and only 53 per cent had kept copies of important documents. Even fewer were less likely to say they’ve put aside supplies.
If you’re among this group, the good news is that there’s lots of resources to help you create a plan and, if an emergency happens, you’ll be glad you did.
Every Canadian household needs an emergency plan and it only takes about 20 minutes to create one. Whether its flooding, an earthquake, tornado, severe storm or something else - it may take first responders some time to reach you during an emergency. That’s why you need to be prepared.
Know regional risks
Although the consequences of various disasters can be similar, knowing the risks in your region can help. Learn more about disasters, including those triggered by natural or technological hazards or conflict by using the Canadian Disaster Database at: http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cdd
Here are some tips to get you started on your own plan. It’s important to keep this document in an easy-to-find place and have copies in your car, at work or stored electronically. It’s also a good idea to get information from your municipality and province about their plans.
Things to think of:
- Determine the best ways to evacuate your home in case of an emergency. Make sure adults and older children know where fire extinguishers, water, electric and gas utilities are located.
- Know escape routes or where in the house to shelter-in-place depending on the emergency. (i.e. basement in case of a tornado)
- Ensure everyone is aware of where to find your emergency kit. (See Part 2 of our emergency plan)
- Establish a safe place for your family to meet outside your home and neighbourhood. Make sure everyone knows the out-of-town meeting place and how to get there if you are split up.
- Forty-two per cent of family members do not know the cell phone numbers of their own immediate family members. Ensure everyone has contact numbers on their person at all times.
- Include a plan for evacuating your pets.
- Practice your evacuation plan frequently.
- Prepare to be self-sufficient in your home for three days or up to 10 during a health emergency.
- If a member of your family has special needs that would require extra assistance, include those details in your plan, including necessary medication, allergies and vaccinations.
- Keep copies of important documents such as: birth and marriage certificates, passports, licences, wills, land deeds and insurance documents. Take photos of family members in case a lost persons’ record is created. Keep them in a safe place, both inside and outside your home, including electronic versions.
- Know the plans for your workplace, school and community centre in the event a disaster happens when you are not at home.
- Listen to local radio and television. If local officials ask you to evacuate, follow the designated routes and go to the location specified. Do not take shortcuts as they could take you to a blocked or dangerous area.
- Learn about emergencies sooner by subscribing to weather warnings and provincial emergency alerts.
The above list is not exhaustive, but highlights some of the things you need to think about. The bottom line is to think of this ahead of time. There are many resources available to help you create your own personal plan, including the federal government. The Canadian Red Cross has a template you can use and St. John Ambulance also has useful tips.
RELATED READING: Emergency planning in Ontario.
Other provinces can be found here: Be Prepared.