Your Emergency Plan
Interest and awareness about emergency management has increased over the past few years. The information below contains valuable tips that can help your family develop an effective emergency plan, based on the kind of emergencies that can occur in our community and region.
- Prepare for the unexpected
- Develop a family emergency plan
- Know what to do in an emergency
- Be ready for emergencies in the home
Why you need a plan
Emergencies and disasters can occur anytime, anywhere. Some are seasonal and allow time for preparation; other occur swiftly and without warning. Communications, transportation, utilities and other essential services could be disrupted by disasters, forcing you to rely initially on your own resources for food, water, first aid, transportation and shelter.
The individual's response comes first. Individuals and families need to be prepared to cope with interruptions in essential services from any cause at any time. The next level of response comes from municipalities. Municipalities work closely with other essential service organizations in developing and carrying out emergency plans. Alberta Government assistance is brought in when needed. The Alberta Government may also request help from the Federal Government if necessary.
Organizations prepare for emergencies with thorough planning. Individuals and families should do the same. Although the emergency incident may vary, the elements of an effective response are often the same. Natural events can include winter storms, fires, floods or tornadoes. Other potential emergencies such as dangerous goods spills are caused by technological or human failures.
The most common emergencies that occur in Alberta are winter storms, fires (home, forest and grass fires), floods, thunderstorms and tornadoes. You can lessen the impact of an emergency or disaster by knowing what to do before, during, and after an incident.
No matter where you live, the following basic preparedness actions can help you in any emergency.
- Learn the warning systems your municipal government uses and what actions to take when you hear them.
- Listen to local radio, television and cable stations for forecasts and emergency instructions. Post the dial/channel listings of these stations for quick access.
- Arrange with neighbours to advise one another of an emergency notification.
- Post emergency numbers by every phone.
- Evacuation routes will be announced when required.
- Be familiar with the emergency plans in your workplace and in your children's school or day care.
- Leave written backup care arrangements with the school or day care in case you can't get there right away in an emergency.
- Learn first aid and CPR.
Check your insurance
Insurance for most hazards is readily available for homes and their contents; businesses, stock and equipment, farm buildings, livestock and equipment and vehicles. Check regularly with your insurance agent or broker to ensure you have appropriate and adequate insurance coverage, including any extensions in coverage that may be available.
- Coverage is available for most major disasters including: fire, lightning strikes, windstorms, hail, tornadoes and others. Overland flood coverage can be added to business policies, but is not generally available for homeowners.
- Most policies can include coverage for damage caused by sewer back-up. Make sure your policy includes sewer back-up insurance.
- Keep a detailed paper and/or photographic/video inventory of your residence or business. Keep it in your emergency kit. It will be invaluable in the event of loss.
- Make sure your insurance policies and related records are in a safe location and easily available after an emergency or disaster.
- The Insurance Bureau of Canada has information on all aspects of insurance. Its toll free number for Alberta is 1-800-377-6378.
- Know what your insurance company requires, should you need to make a claim.
- Be aware that government disaster recovery programs will not compensate for damage and loss for which insurance was readily and reasonably available before the disaster occurred.
Develop a family emergency plan
Base your plan on the kind of emergencies that can occur in your region and community. Have a family meeting to discuss potential emergency situations. Talk about what each family member should do to prepare and respond in each situation. Ensure that elderly family members, who may not live with you, are included in your emergency plan.
- Include individuals with special needs in your planning.
- Maintain a list of the family's required medications, prescribed dosages and the names and telephone numbers of family doctors.
- If you use a pacemaker or other medical equipment, keep the make and model, serial number and other pertinent information with you at all times.
- Keep irreplaceable items such as family photo albums where they can quickly be accessed if you must leave home in a hurry.
- If important family papers are kept at home, store them in a portable, fireproof and waterproof container.
- If your family owns pets, contact your veterinarian on boarding kennels or SPCA for information.
- Plan how your family will stay in contact if separated by a disaster or emergency. Pick two meeting places: (1) a location at a safe distance from your home in case of fire; and, (2) a place outside your neighbourhood in case you cannot return home. Meet with your neighbours and plan how you would work together.
Audit your home
A hazard audit of your home can not only increase your safety but can also help you respond more effectively to an emergency or disaster.
- Review fire safety features such as smoke detectors and how to monitor them.
- Make sure that no flammable materials are kept near electrical equipment or your furnace.
- Check for frayed electrical cords or overloaded circuits.
- Identify all potential exits.
- Learn how to turn off your water and electricity safely.
Locate the safe areas (interior bathrooms, closets, interior stairwells, lowest floor level) in your home in case of a tornado.
Maintain a supply of food and emergency items, ensure your family stays warm
A major emergency or disaster could isolate you in your home for several days. Gas or electricity for cooking, heating and refrigeration may not be available. Be prepared with a stock of items for emergency use and warmth.
- Medications required by family members.
- Foods required for special diets or baby foods.
- Battery-powered radio and flashlight in working order, with extra batteries. (Solar and hand-cranked radios and flashlights are also available.)
- A first aid kit and manual.
- All-purpose fire extinguisher (rated A-B-C).
- Waterproof matches.
- Candles and tin can. Ensure that candles are used safely.
- A three-day supply of canned, packaged, or non-perishable food items for each member of the family. Include a manual can-opener.
- A three-day supply of drinking water for each member of the family, sealed in unbreakable containers (replace stored tap water every few months). Adults need at least 1 litre of drinking water a day.
- An alternative heat source and an adequate supply of fuel. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Make sure there is adequate ventilation to prevent the build-up of hazardous fumes. Cover windows to prevent heat from escaping and dress in layers.
- Remember it's easy to forget that a stove burner, iron or space heater were running before the power went out...and can all be hazards if left unattended when the power returns. Always remember to unplug your appliances during a power outage.
- A fully stocked freezer will keep food frozen for 2 days after losing power. If your freezer isn't full, fill containers with water and freeze them, taking up the empty freezer space and ensuring your foods stay frozen during an outage.
Be prepared to evacuate your home or workplace
Do not assume that an evacuation will last only a few hours. Plan to evacuate with enough items to keep your family comfortable. Consider adding appropriate items to your emergency supplies.
- Warm and waterproof clothing, and any other items appropriate for the time of year.
- Extra food.
- Cash and credit cards.
- Toys to comfort and amuse the children.
- Reading material and games.
- Pet food.
- Sleeping bags or blankets in a waterproof bag.
- Keep your vehicle fuelled.
- Ensure your vehicle is well-equipped for winter driving
Evacuation procedures during an emergency
- Keep phone lines open for use by emergency workers.
- Listen to local radio, television or cable broadcasts for emergency instructions and current information.
- Assemble the food and supplies you plan to take with you. Refer to lists of family medications, records and irreplaceable items (see Develop a Family Emergency Plan).
- Follow the instructions of your local Utilities about whether to switch off utility services. In the case of some gas and propane appliances that are manually operated, it would be wise to shut off the gas supply if the appliance is going to be unattended.
- Follow the instructions and advice of your municipal government. If you are asked to evacuate, do so promptly.
- Travel only on routes that are specified or recommended by the Municipality.
- A reception centre may be set up to provide food, shelter and information to people affected by an emergency. If you are going somewhere other than the reception centre, advise the reception centre or municipal government of your location.
The emergency planning practices outlined here can help you prepare for any unexpected event. Prudent planning for unexpected emergencies will help to keep your family and home safe.