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Prepare Now! Learn How!

Emergency Preparedness Week, May 4-10, 2003

(Thursday, May 1/2003) - Whether we like to think about it or not, many of us have or will be affected by an emergency or disaster situation at some point in our lives. Disasters related to natural phenomena, as well as technological or human-induced events, threaten quality of life and change lives forever. Although many of these risks may seem beyond our control, there are ways to reduce the potential consequences. Each of us can reduce the risk we face by better understanding what could happen and learning how to better prepare our family, community and country.

With this in mind, the theme of this year's Emergency Preparedness Week (May 4-10, 2003) is Prepare Now! Learn How! Preparedness is everyone's job. The best way to survive an emergency situation is to learn what to do before, during and after one occurs.

Be informed. Be proactive.

There are many actions you can take today to lessen the ill effects of disaster:

a. Find out which local radio and TV stations broadcast emergency instructions and monitor them regularly--particularly during uncertain weather conditions. Preset the channel numbers of these stations for easy access.

b. Become familiar with your workplace emergency plan and your children's school and/or day care emergency plans. Have written contingency care arrangements in place in the event that you are detained in an emergency.

c. Post all emergency plans/phone numbers in a prominent place at home and in the office.

d. Learn first aid. Professional medical assistance may not always be immediately available.

Develop a Family Emergency Plan

Emergency planning can help to ensure an effective response to emergencies and disasters. Take the time to meet as a family to define roles and responsibilities for different emergency situations.

Develop a plan based on an assessment of the kinds of emergencies that can occur in your community. Natural events can include winter storms, floods, earthquakes, or tornadoes. Secondary events, such as water-induced landslides and toxic spills can exacerbate a weather-related event and prolong a state of emergency. Other emergencies are caused by technological failures, such as a loss of electrical power or telecommunication. While the emergency incident may vary, the elements of an effective response are often the same.

Ensure elderly family members, who may not live with you, are included in your emergency plan. And, prepare a plan for family pets by making arrangements with family or friends who can care for the pet in the event of an emergency or locating emergency shelters that can accommodate animals.

Decide on a pre-determined meeting place if a fire, or other event, forces your family out of your home. Ask someone outside your immediate area to act as a central point of contact for your family members, relatives and friends in an emergency. Ensure all family members carry the telephone number of the distant contact.

Maintain a list of the family's required medications, giving generic names and prescribed dosages. List the names and telephone numbers of family doctors. For those who use pacemakers or other medical equipment, keep the style, serial number and other pertinent information with you at all times.

Keep family records, such as mortgage documents, medical records, insurance policies, birth certificates, marriage licenses, wills, stock and bond certificates, and tax records in one central location so that they can be easily accessed in the event you must leave the area quickly.

Maintain a Supply of Food and Emergency Items

An emergency could isolate you in your home for several days. Some items you may want to keep stocked in your home for emergency use:

a. Special medicines or foods required by members of your family such as insulin, prescription medications, baby food or special diet foods

b. Battery-powered radio and flashlight

c. Spare batteries for flashlight and radio

d. A first-aid kit and manual

e. An all-purpose fire extinguisher (rated A-B-C)

f. Waterproof matches

g. Candles and tin can

h. Three-day supply of food (such as canned goods, crackers, peanut butter, sugar, instant coffee, tea, etc.)

i. Three-day supply of bottled water (at least one litre per adult per day)

j. A catalytic heater (usually kerosene or propane). Follow instructions carefully and ensure there is adequate ventilation to avoid build-up of hazardous fumes when using any kind of fuel.

If an evacuation is imminent, consider adding these items to your emergency supplies:

a. Warm and waterproof clothing

b. Extra food, based on your family's specific requirements

c. Money and credit cards (money machines may not be working)

d. Toys to comfort and amuse children (e.g., a favourite toy, stuffed animal, cards)

e. Reading material for adults

f. Sleeping bags, or blankets, in a waterproof bag

If you expect to be evacuated from your home or workplace:

Do not assume an evacuation will last only a few hours. Plan to evacuate with enough items to keep your family comfortable for at least five days.

If an emergency is imminent, keep phone lines open for use by emergency workers. Monitor local radio broadcasts for emergency instructions and current information.

Turn off main water, gas and electrical switches before leaving home.

Follow local government instructions. If you are asked to evacuate, do so promptly. Travel only on routes recommended by your local government.

An emergency reception centre may be set up to provide food and shelter to people affected by an emergency. If you are going somewhere other than the reception centre, advise the centre, local government or police of your whereabouts.

After the Emergency or Disaster

The dangers associated with a disaster are not over once the floodwaters have receded or the tornado has passed. Ensure you and your family are safe by following the advice below:

Don't visit the disaster area. You may hinder rescue efforts.

Monitor local media reports to determine when it is safe to return to your home. They might also provide other helpful advice and assistance.

Drive carefully and watch for debris, dangling or broken wires and damaged bridges and roads. Report problems to police or fire departments.

Use extreme caution. Wait until you're advised it's safe to enter buildings, which could have sustained structural damage.

Follow your local health authority's instructions concerning use of food and water supplies. Any food affected by lack of refrigeration, chemicals or floodwaters should be discarded.

Report damaged water, sewage and gas lines to the proper authorities. Never enter a home where you suspect there is a gas leak.

If your property is damaged, notify your insurance agent or broker immediately.

The emotional impacts of disasters are well known. Pay attention to your feelings and those of members of your family. Local mental health services are usually able to provide assistance in coping with the trauma that results from a disaster.


Barry Manuel
HRM Coordinator EMO
(902) 490-5400

Above content last modified Thursday, November 02, 2023 at 11:40am.