The importance of emergency preparedness cannot be stressed enough. It is a task that everyone shares and not a sole responsibility of the authorities. In case of an emergency, it may take rescue workers some time before they can get to you and help you. As such, you should be ready to take care of yourself and your loved ones while waiting for emergency help to arrive – at least 72 hours.
Know the risks
Disasters can be triggered by a wide range of hazards that include technological hazards, natural hazards or conflicts. Although the consequences of these disasters are almost the same, knowing the specific risks in your immediate area can help you prepare better. Some regions in Canada are more prone to certain natural disasters such as tornadoes in Ontario, blizzards in Nunavut and earthquakes in British Columbia. Aside from natural disasters, there are other hazards that include transportation accidents, industrial accidents and power outages that can affect your community.
Some risks may be unique to your community such as hazardous material contamination for communities located near industrial plants or flooding for communities nearby bodies of water. Make sure you identify and learn about the disasters that are most likely to hit your community by inquiring with your local authorities or by referring to disaster preparedness resources available online.
Make a plan
It is recommended that every Canadian household come up with an emergency plan to help mitigate loses, prevent injuries and respond properly in case of disasters. Making a disaster plan is actually simple. First, plan how to gather or contact all family members. It can be after dinner when everyone is around and free. Discuss what disaster risks are most likely in your area and discuss what you would do in every situation.
Here are other essential things to include in your disaster planning:
- Draw up the floor plan of the house and assign exits for each room.
- Designate a main and alternate exit route for each room. If you live in high rise buildings or apartments, plan to use the stairs rather than the elevators during emergencies.
- Identify the most effective evacuation route from your neighborhood, in case you are instructed to evacuate in a hurry.
Emergency contingency plans
- If a disaster occurs while you are at work or somewhere else, designate a meeting place where you can meet up with your family, in case your house is not safe.
- Learn about the emergency plans of your workplace and your children’s school. Make sure you leave your contact information to the school so that the school authorities can contact you during an emergency. Update your contact information regularly.
- Make copies of important documents that include birth certificates, passports, wills, licenses, insurance, marriage certificate, employment details, and land deeds.
- Keep your records in a safe place. Better yet, save a digital copy of your documents in your email so you can access them wherever you are.
- Prepare a plan for your pets in case there is a need to evacuate. Evacuation centers or public shelters do not allow pets so it is important that you identify pet boarding facilities or pet-friendly facilities where you can leave your pet during a disaster.
Last but most importantly, learn about first aid. Aside from making emergency preparedness plans, it would help if you complete basic first aid. Contact your local workplace approved chapter to learn more about basic first aid courses near you.