Emergency Situations and Measures Plan

http://fr.prescott-russell.on.ca/services/services_durgence/situations_et_mesures_d_urgences

Emergency Situations and Measures Plan

An emergency situation is created by the forces of nature, by accident, by a deliberate or an unintentional action that poses serious risks to life or property of residents.

How to react in an emergency situation

An emergency or disaster can occur at any time. Unpredictable situations such as loss of electricity, water supply or road closures may also occur without notice. You may be unable to obtain some essential supplies. Just as the federal, provincial and local authorities prepare for emergency situations, each citizen must also make its own preparations.

The Emergency Preparedness Guide

Each resident should prepare enough to survive, with his family, for a three day period in case of an emergency or a disaster. An Emergency Preparedness guide has been published by the Department of Emergency Services.

The Survival Kit

Emergency Management Ontario recommends to prepare a plan and a survival kit to better respond to emergencies. An Emergency Preparedness guide has been published by the Department of Emergency Services.

Evacuation

Would you know what do in case of an evacuation, an earthquake, a flood, a pandemic or other hazards following a disaster? Please consult Hazards and Emergencies on the Government of Canada website to learn more on this subject.

Personal Support Network

A personal support network is a group of at least three people you know and trust and who would help you during an emergency.

How do you create a support network

  • •Ask people you trust if they are willing to help you in case of an emergency. Identify contacts for important locations such as home, work or school. Neighbours are often the closest and most available contacts in an emergency.
  • Tell these support people where your emergency kit is stored. Give one member a key to your home.
  • Include a support network contact who is far enough away that they are unlikely to be affected by the same emergency.
  • Work with your support network to develop a plan that meets your needs.
  • Practice your emergency plan with your network. If applicable, show them how your special needs equipment works.

People With a Disability or Special Needs

Checklist and Personal Assessment

During an emergency, this checklist will enable emergency responders to better assist you.

I am able to:

  • Hear;
  • See;
  • Walk without help;
  • Walk with help;
  • Prepare my meals;
  • Feed myself;
  • Dress myself;
  • Sit without help;
  • Sit with help;
  • Wash/bath without help;
  • Wash/bath with help;
  • Sanitary needs without help;
  • Sanitary needs with help.

Important personal information

  • Health card number;
  • Private medical insurance number;
  • Insurance policy number;
  • List your prescription number, name and purpose of each medication (i.e., #34567/insulin/diabetes)
  • Doctor(s) name and phone number;
  • Special equipment you use;
  • Special sanitary aids;
  • Allergies;
  • Other special needs;
  • Special diet;
  • Other particular needs.

Contacts

  • Out-of-town emergency contact;
  • Neighbourhood contact;
  • School contact;
  • Household pet care;
  • Veterinarian name and phone number;
  • Local emergency management contact (for your area);
  • Personal support network contact list (family members, attendants, neighbours, etc.)

How to get ready

  • Make sure all your emergency kit items are organized in one place, easy to find and to carry.
  • Tag all of your special needs equipment including instructions on how to use and/or move each assistive device during an emergency.
  • Complete a checklist and personal assessment sheet and provide a copy to your designated network(s). Keep a copy in your emergency kit(s).
  • If you have food / drug allergies, wear a MedicAlert® bracelet.
  • List all food/drug allergies and current medications (for each medication, specify the medical condition being treated, the generic name, dosage, frequency, and the name and contact information of the prescribing physician). Provide this list to your designated network and keep a copy in your emergency kit(s).
  • If you rely on any life sustaining equipment or if you require regular attendant care, ask your network to check on you immediately if an emergency occurs and have an emergency backup plan in the event of a power outage.
  • During an emergency, if your support network is unable to help, ask others for help and inform them of your special needs and how they can assist you.
  • Carry a personal alarm that emits a loud noise to draw attention.
  • Be aware that experiencing an emergency can be overwhelming and stress can worsen some medical conditions.

Assisting People With a Disability or With Special Needs

Tips

  • Ask if the person wants your help, and how you may best assist them.
  • If someone refuses your help, wait for first responders to arrive, unless it is a matter of life or death.
  • Do not touch the person, their service animal or equipment without their permission, unless it is a matter of life or death.
  • Follow instructions posted on special needs equipment.
  • You may be asked to use latex-free gloves to reduce the spread of viral infection or to prevent an allergic reaction to latex.
  • Ask the person if areas of their body have reduced sensation and if they want you to check those areas for injuries.
  • Do not try to move someone unless you are trained in proper techniques.
  • If a person is unconscious or unresponsive do not administer any liquids or food.
  • If the person has a service animal, it is the animal owner's responsibility to assess whether or not it is safe for the animal to work through the emergency situation.
  • To make this decision, the service animal owner will need information as to the nature of the hazards they are expected to face and any changes to the physical environment.
  • If providing sighted assistance, the first responder or caregiver should confirm that the service animal is then not working, and is therefore off duty.

Mobility

Mobility limitations may make it difficult for a person to use stairs or to move quickly over long distances. Limitations may include reliance on mobility equipment such as a wheelchair, walker, crutches or a walking cane. People with a heart condition or respiratory difficulties may also have limited mobility.

Your emergency plan

  • If you use a wheelchair or scooter, request that an emergency evacuation chair be stored near a stairwell on the same floor where you work or live, so that your network can readily access it to help you evacuate. The person with the disability should be involved in the selection of the evacuation chair.
  • People who require the use of an evacuation chair should designate a primary and backup contact to assist them in the event of an evacuation. Create an evacuation plan in collaboration with the building manager and contact persons, and practice using the chair with them.
  • In your personal assessment checklist, identify areas of your body that have reduced sensation so that these areas can be checked for injuries after an emergency, if you cannot do so yourself.
  • Check with your local municipal office to find out if emergency shelters in your area are wheelchair accessible.

Recommended additional items checklist

  • Tire patch kit
  • Can of seal-in-air product (to repair flat tires on your wheelchair or scooter)
  • Supply of inner tubes
  • Pair of heavy gloves (to protect your hands while wheeling over glass or other sharp debris)
  • Latex-free gloves (for anyone providing personal care to you)
  • Spare deep-cycle battery for a motorized wheelchair or scooter
  • A lightweight, manual wheelchair as a backup to a motorized wheelchair (if feasible)
  • Spare catheters (if applicable)
  • Your power outage backup plan
  • Other

Assisting a person with a mobility disability: what to do

  • If possible, use latex-free gloves when providing personal care.
  • Try to ensure that the person's wheelchair is transported with the person.
  • If this is not possible, employ other evacuation techniques as appropriate, such as use of the evacuation chair, shelter-in-place (if instructed to do so), or lifts and carries by trained personnel.
  • Do not push or pull a person's wheelchair without their permission, unless it is a matter of life or death.

Non-Visible Disabilities

Individuals with non-visible disabilities may have difficulty performing some tasks even though their condition is not apparent. Non-visible disabilities can include communication, cognitive, sensory, mental health, learning or intellectual disabilities which may impair an individual's response to an emergency. Conditions can include allergies, epilepsy, diabetes, pulmonary or heart disease, and/or dependency on dialysis, different supplies, etc.

Your emergency plan

  • Keep an emergency contact list on your person. This list should note key people that are aware of your special needs.
  • Inform your designated support network of where you store your medication.
  • Consider wearing a MedicAlert® bracelet or identification to help notify emergency responders about your special needs.
  • Request that a panic push-button be installed in your work and living areas so that in an emergency you can notify others of your location and that you need special assistance.

Recommended additional items checklist

  • Supply of food items appropriate to your dietary restrictions.
  • List of instructions that you can easily follow in an emergency.
  • Personal list and minimum one-week supply of all needed medications, medical supplies and special equipment (i.e., ventilator for asthma, nitro lingual spray for a heart condition, an epinephrine pen against allergic reactions or anaphylactic shock, etc.).
  • Detailed list of all prescription medications.
  • MedicAlert® identification.
  • Other. 
Example: People with diabetes
  • Extra supply of insulin or oral agent
  • Extra supply of syringes, needles and insulin pens (if used)
  • Small container for storing used syringes and/or needles (if applicable)
  • Blood glucose testing kit, spare batteries and record book
  • Supply of blood glucose and urine ketone testing strips Fast acting insulin for high blood glucose (if applicable) Fast acting sugar for low blood glucose
  • Extra food to cover delayed meals
  • Ice packs and thermal bag to store insulin (if applicable)

What to do when assisting a person with a non-visible disability

  • Allow the person to describe the help they need.
  • Find effective ways to communicate, such as drawn orwritten instructions, using landmarks instead of general terms like "go left" or "turn right".
  • Maintain eye contact when speaking to the person.
  • Repeat instructions (if needed).
  • If a person needs to take medication, ask if he/she needs help taking it. (Never offer medicine not prescribed by a physician.)

Hearing

The way that emergency warnings are issued in an emergency is critical to the understanding of instructions and the subsequent response and safety of those with hearing loss.

Your emergency plan

  • Communicate your hearing loss by moving your lips without making a sound, pointing to your ear, using a gesture, or if applicable, pointing to your hearing aid.
  • Keep a pencil and paper handy for written communication.
  • Obtain a pager that is connected to an emergency paging system at your workplace and/or your residence.
  • Install a smoke detection system that includes flashing strobe lights or vibrators to get your attention if the alarms sound.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly by pushing the test button.
  • Replace batteries every six months or whenever there is a low battery signal.

Recommended additional items checklist

  • Writing pads and pencils for communication
  • Flashlight, whistle or personal alarm
  • Pre-printed phrases you would use during an emergency, such as "I use American Sign Language" or "If you make announcements, I will need to have them written simply or signed".
  • Assistive equipment according to your needs (i.e., hearing aid, personal amplifier, etc.)
  • Portable visual notification devices to know if someone is knocking on the door, ringing the doorbell, or calling on the telephone
  • Extra batteries for assistive devices
  • A CommuniCard™ (produced by The Canadian Hearing Society) that explains your hearing loss and identifies how first responders can communicate with you during an emergency
  • Other.

What to do when assisting a person with a hearing impairment

  • Get the person's attention via a visual cue or a gentle touch on their arm. Do not approach the person from behind.
  • Face the person, make eye contact when speaking to them as they may rely on lip reading and communicate in close proximity.
  • Speak clearly and naturally. Do not shout or speak unnaturally slowly.
  • Try to rephrase, rather than repeating yourself.
  • Use gestures to help illustrate your meaning.
  • If there is time, it may be helpful to write a message.
  • Hearing aids amplify sounds and can create a physical shock to the user, so do not make loud noises.
  • Note that some people may be deaf-blind.

Vision

  • A person who is blind or has reduced vision may have difficulty reading signs or moving through unfamiliar environments during an emergency. They may feel lost and/or dependent on others for guidance.

Your emergency plan

  • Have a longer white cane available to readily manoeuvre around obstacles (there may be debris on the floor or furniture may have shifted).
  • Identify all emergency supplies in advance with fluorescent tape, large print or Braille text, such as gas, water and electric shutoff valves.
  • Familiarize yourself in advance with all escape routes and locations of emergency doors/exits on each floor of any building where you work, live and visit.

Recommended additional items checklist

  • Extra white cane, preferably longer in length
  • Talking or Braille clock
  • Large print timepiece with extra batteries
  • Extra vision aids such as an electronic travel aid, monocular, binocular or magnifier
  • Extra pair of prescription glasses (if applicable)
  • Any reading devices / assistive technology to access information or portable CCTV devices
  • Other 

What to do when assisting a person with a vision disability

  • For people who are deaf-blind, draw an "X" on their back with your finger to let them know you can help them.
  • To communicate with someone who is deaf-blind, trace letters in their hand with your finger.
  • To guide a person, keep half a step ahead, offer them your arm and walk at their pace.
  • Do not shout at a person who is blind or has reduced vision. Speak clearly and provide specific directions.
  • Provide advance warning of upcoming stairs, major obstacles or changes in direction.
  • Watch for obstacles that the person could walk into.
  • Never grab a person with vision loss, unless it is a matter of life or death.
  • Do not assume that the person cannot see you.
  • Avoid the term "over there"; describe positions such as, "to your right / left / straight ahead / behind you", or by using the clock face positions (i.e., the exit is at 12 o'clock).
  • If the person has a service animal on duty, ask them where you should walk to avoid distracting the animal. Do not separate the service animal from its owner.

Seniors With a Disability or Special Needs

Seniors, especially those with special needs, should be informed of what to do in an emergency. Contact your municipality to find out about programs and services in your area that will help you during an emergency and assist you in returning to your daily routine.

Your emergency plan

  • Create an emergency contact list identifying your personal support network, including physicians, case worker, a contact from a seniors group, neighbours and your building superintendent.
  • Keep a copy of this list in your emergency kit and on your person.
  • Familiarize yourself with all escape routes, emergency equipment and the location of emergency doors / exits in your home.
  • If you have a pet, bring it with you in an evacuation and have an emergency plan for your pet. Determine in advance who can take care of your animal during an emergency.
  • Request that a panic push-button be installed in your work and/or living area so that in the event of an emergency you can notify others of your location and that you need special assistance.

Recommended additional items checklist

  • Non-perishable food appropriate to your dietary restrictions
  • Assistive devices needed such as canes, walkers, lightweight manual wheelchair, hearing aids, breathing apparatus, blood glucose monitoring device
  • Extra prescription eyewear and footwear (if required)
  • Extra supply of medications and vitamin supplements
  • A list of all your needed medical supplies and special equipment
  • Copies of all medication prescriptions
  • Extra dentures (if required) and cleaner
  • Latex-free gloves (for anyone providing personal care to you)
  • Other.

What to do when assisting a senior with a disability / special needs

  • Check on neighbours to find out if there are seniors who would need your help during an emergency.
  • Always speak calmly and provide assurance that you are there to help. Avoid shouting or speaking unnaturally slowly.
  • Let the person tell you how you can help.
  • Know the location of emergency buttons (many seniors' buildings have emergency buttons located in bedrooms and washrooms).
  • Follow instructions posted on special needs equipment and/or assistive devices.

High Rise Safety

Residents of high rise buildings should make themselves aware of:

  • Building superintendent's name and phone number
  • Members of the Building Safety Committee
  • The contact names and coordinates of floor monitors Who conducts evacuation drills, and how often
  • Location of fire extinguishers, automated external
  • defibrillator units and oxygen tank
  • Location of emergency evacuation device(s)

Your Emergency Plan

  • Advise your building superintendent of your requirements during an emergency.
  • Know your building's evacuation plan and escape routes.
  • Know the location of emergency buttons in the building and exits that are wheelchair accessible (if applicable).
  • If applicable, request that an emergency evacuation chair be installed close to the stairwell on the floor where you work or live. If you cannot have an evacuation chair, have a backup plan for evacuating without one.
  • If you will need help during an emergency, obtain large printed signs from the building manager that you can place in your window/door, indicating that you need assistance.

What to do when assisting a person with special needs in a high rise building

  • Check on neighbours and/or co-workers with special needs to find out if they need your help.
  • Offer to carry the person's emergency kit along with any special equipment.
  • Avoid attempts to lift, support or assist the movement of someone down stairways unless you are familiar with safe techniques.
  • Do not use elevators in event of fire or smoke, or if the emergency is likely to lead to a power outage.

Emergency preparedness for animals

Animals are part of our families. During an emergency, it is important to know how to protect the safety of our animals. Emergency situations can occur at any time. So you have to prepare yourself today. Prepare an emergency pet kit and arrange for your pet if evacuation is needed.

Service Animal Emergency Kit

This checklist identifies the basic items you should prepare to keep your service animal comfortable during an emergency. Make sure the kit is easy to carry in case of a home evacuation.

  • Minimum 72-hour supply of bottled water and pet food
  • Portable water and food bowls
  • Paper towels and manual can opener
  • Medications with a list identifying medical condition, dosage, frequency and contact information of prescribing veterinarian
  • Medical records including vaccinations
  • Leash and collar
  • Blanket and toy
  • Plastic bags
  • Bandages (a dog's paws could get cut on rough terrain)
  • Up-to-date ID tag with your phone number and the name/phone number of your veterinarian (a microchip is also recommended)
  • Recent photo of your service animal in case they get separated from you
  • Name of the animal's training centre and qualifying number (for identification purposes)
  • Copy of licence (if required)
  • Other

Domestic Animal Emergency kit 

Prepare an emergency kit for your pet. Make sure you have:

  • Provision for 7 days of food, drinking water and medicines
  • Bowls, paper towels and a can opener
  • A blanket and a small toy
  • A strong leash or harness
  • Cat litter dish (if needed) and plastic bags
  • A cage to transport your pet
  • Medicines and medical records (including vaccines)
  • A recent photo of your pet for identification if the animal is lost
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical or behavioral issues in the case of a pension placement
  • An up-to-date identity tag with your phone number and the name and phone number of your veterinarianA copy of the registration (if necessary)
  • Muzzle (if necessary) 

Keep this kit in the same place as your family emergency kit for easy access. Animals also need supplies.

Animals become anxious during emergencies. If possible, keep your pet in a cage with a familiar blanket to make him feel safe. Do not leave your pet alone with strangers or without a leash. During an emergency, your pet may panic, be in distress or even flee and get lost. Because of his state of distress, your pet may also bite someone. REMEMBER, during an emergency, you remain responsible for your pet.

Animals and evacuations

If safety measures allows it, bring your pet with you! Animals should not be left alone during evacuation as they may be injured, lost or even killed because of the emergency. Do not forget to take your pet emergency kit with you when you evacuate.

It is important to note that some evacuation centers cannot accept animals, except service animals (such as dogs for the blind).

Emergency contact information

Save this information on a piece of paper and keep it in your pet emergency kit. Update this information every year.

Ask friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they could take your pets during an emergency. You may not be home when an emergency is declared. In anticipation of an emergency, you can ask a trusted neighbor to get your pet out if needed and meet you in a predetermined location. This person must have the key to your home. She should also know where the animal's emergency kit is, feel comfortable with your pet and most importantly, know where your pet might be.

Please inquire in advance to make sure you do not part with your pet: Prepare a list of facilities and veterinarians who can board pets in case of emergency (not to mention the number to join them 24 hours a day). day). Contact local animal shelters and ask if they agree to take animals in emergency situations. You should use this option as a last resort because animal shelters have limited resources and will be very busy during an emergency.

Farm Animal Emergency kit 

Do you know how to protect your farm animals from risks posed by natural disasters, including collapsed barns, freezing weather, flooding, dehydration, and electrocution?

From barn fires to hazardous materials spills to natural disasters, emergency situations often call for special measures to shelter, care for, or transport farm pets, livestock, and poultry.

Safeguard your animals, your property and your business by taking precautions now, no matter what the risks are in your area. Additional information and assistance can be provided by your veterinarian.

Plan to shelter in place

If you remain on your property during an emergency, you will need to decide whether to confine large animals in an available shelter or leave them outdoors.

Survey your property for the best location for animal sheltering. Ensure that your animals have access to high areas in case of flooding, as well as to food and clean water.

If your pasture area meets the following criteria, your livestock may be better off out in the pasture than being evacuated. A safe pasture has:

  • Native tree species only. Exotic trees uproot easily.
  • No overhead power lines or poles.
  • No debris or sources of blowing debris.
  • No barbed wire fencing. Woven wire fencing is best.
  • At least one acre (0.4 hectares) of open space. Livestock may not be able to avoid blowing debris in smaller spaces. 

Ensure that you have enough food and essentials supplies for you and your family for at least 72 hours (three days).

If your property does not meet these criteria, consider evacuating your animals, but only on the advice of your veterinarian or local emergency management officials.

Plan to evacuate

  • Contact your local emergency management authority and become familiar with at least two possible evacuation routes. Familiarize all family members and employees with your evacuation plans.
  • Arrange in advance for a place to shelter your animals. Plan ahead and work within your community to establish safe shelters for farm animals, such as fairgrounds, other farms, racetracks, and exhibition centers.
  • Ensure that sufficient feed and medical supplies are available at the destination.
  • Be ready to leave as soon as an evacuation is ordered. In a slowly evolving emergency, like a hurricane, plan to evacuate at least 72 hours before anticipated landfall, especially if you will be hauling a high profile trailer such as a horse trailer. It may not be possible to evacuate heavy loads safely in high winds. Also, once the emergency hits roads may be restricted to emergency service vehicles and not open to traffic.
  • Set up safe transportation. You will need to have access to trucks, trailers, and other vehicles suitable for transporting each type of animal, along with experienced handlers and drivers. You may need access to a portable loading ramp to load, or unload, animals.
  • If animals are evacuated to a centralized location such as a fair grounds for shelter and will co-mingle with other animals of unknown health status try to:
    • Make sure your animals have sufficient identification (e.g. ear tags or brands) to be able to tell them apart from others.
    • minimize the contact among animals from different premises.
    • protect feed and water from contact with wild animals and birds. Verify the health and vaccination status of animals which must be co-mingled.
    • handle any mortalities in a manner to minimize the possible spread of contagious diseases.
    • monitor the health and well being of the animals on a daily basis, whether sheltered in place or evacuated. Seek appropriate veterinary medical advice and services on suspicion of an animal disease problem.
    • Accommodation will need to include milking equipment for dairy cows (as applicable). Milk may need to be stored separately from cows of other herds. Milk “pickup” companies should be notified where to pick up the milk.

Whether you evacuate or shelter in place, make sure that you have adequate and safe fencing or pens to separate and group animals appropriately.

When leaving the farm

Ensure that the electricity on the farm (typically on a power pole into the farm) is turned off.

Get Prepared

  • Make sure every animal has durable and visible identification and that you have proof of ownership for all animals. 
  • Reinforce your house, barn, and outbuildings with hurricane straps and other measures. Perform regular safety inspections on all utilities, buildings, and facilities on your farm.
  • If possible, remove all barbed wire and consider re-routing permanent fencing, so that animals may move to high ground in a flood and to low-lying areas during high winds.
  • Identify alternate water and power sources. A generator with a safely stored supply of fuel may be essential, especially if you have milking equipment or other electrical equipment necessary to the well being of your animals. Generators should be tested regularly to be sure they will work when needed.
  • Install a hand pump and obtain enough large containers to water your animals for at least a week. Be aware that municipal water supplies and wells may be contaminated during an emergency.
  • Properly plug any abandoned water wells on the site. The exact method for this varies according to provincial/territorial regulations. Regardless of method, the intent is to prevent contaminated water from entering the groundwater. Production wells should also be checked to see that they are secure from flood waters. It may be necessary to decontaminate wells after a flood.
  • Secure or remove anything that could become blowing debris; make a habit of securing trailers, propane tanks, and other large objects. If you have feed troughs or other large containers, fill them with water before any high wind event. This prevents them from blowing around and also provides an additional supply of water.
  • If you use heat lamps or other electrical machinery, make sure the wiring is safe and that any heat source is clear of flammable debris.
  • Label hazardous materials and place them all in the same safe area. Provide local fire, rescue and emergency management authorities with information about the location of any hazardous materials on your property.
  • Remove old buried trash—a potential source of hazardous materials during flooding that may leech into crops, feed supplies, water sources, and pasture.
  • If there is a threat of flooding, ensure that in-ground manure pits or cisterns are kept at least half full of water of other liquid to ensure that they are not damaged or “floated” by rising groundwater.
  • Chemicals should be stored in secured areas, preferably on high ground and/or on shelving off the ground. These areas should be protected so that chemical spills will not result in any runoff or seepage.

Specific Emergencies

Each resident should be prepared so that they can survive with their family for three days in an emergency or disaster. A Specific Emergency Preparedness Sheet has been published by the Department of Emergency Services.

Table des matières

Road Emergencies

Before a road emergency

  • Make sure you have your car emergency kit.
  • Make sure you keep your gas tank at least half-full, especially in the winter.
  • Purchase a ‘Call Police’ sign to attach to your car window in you need to pull over and need assistance. That way, you do not need to exit your vehicle and put yourself in danger.

During a road emergency

  • Always pull over to the right side of the road where possible.
  • Turn on your four-way flashers.
  • Lock all your doors and wait inside your vehicle. Open one window for ventilation (approximately 1 cm)
  • If someone other than the police approaches the vehicle, do not open the windows any more than 1 cm and do not unlock/open your door.

If you are driving and see a CALL POLICE sign, note the location of the car, pull over on the right side of the road and dial 6-7-7 on your cellphone to obtain the OPP non-emergency line. If you do not have a cell phone, stop at the next exit and use a public phone.

Prevention

Slippery or snow-covered roads, reduced visibility and bitter cold: these are all conditions that can make driving difficult and even dangerous during cold weather months. Winter also brings an increased risk of being stuck in your car, so dress warmly before heading out. Follow these tips to learn about winter driving risks and prepare an emergency kit for your car.

  • Try to stay calm and do not go out in the cold. Stay in your car: you will avoid getting lost and your car is a safe shelter. 
  • Do not tire yourself out. Shoveling in the intense cold can be deadly.
  • Let in fresh air by opening a window on the side sheltered from the wind.
  • Keep the engine off as much as possible. Be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning and make sure the exhaust pipe is not obstructed by snow.
  • If possible, use a candle placed inside a deep can instead of the car heater to warm up.
  • Turn on warning lights or set up road flares to make your car visible.
  • Turn on the ceiling light; leaving your headlights or hazard lights on for too long will drain the battery.
  • Move your hands, feet and arms to maintain circulation. Stay awake.
  • Keep an eye out for other cars and emergency responders. Try to keep clothing dry since wet clothing can lead to a dangerous loss of body heat.

Heat Emergency

A heat warning is automatically declared when Environment Canada forecasts a humidex of 40°C or more for at least two consecutive days. Extreme heat can cause dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and even death. The very young, the old and the chronically ill are at greatest risk. However, anyone can suffer from heat-related illnesses, especially in the early summer when people have not yet acclimatized.

Risk factors for heat-related illness include living on the third floor or higher, not having air conditioning, not drinking enough or drinking fluids that promote dehydration, such as coffee, caffeinated soft drinks, and alcohol. Medications like anti-Parkinson's drugs and antidepressants can also make one more vulnerable to heat.

During a heat emergency, you should drinking plenty of fluids, try to find access to air-conditioning at least 2 hours a day, wear light coloured clothing, including a hat, and, if possible, cool down in the shade or in a pool.

Infectious Disease

Outbreak In case of a respiratory (airborne) infectious disease outbreak, the most important thing to do is to listen to the radio and follow recommendations to prevent and contain the spread of the disease.

Respiratory infections are generally spread by small droplets in the air that can settle on surfaces. To prevent the spread:

  • Cover your mouth when you cough/sneeze (with a tissue or into your elbow). • Wash your hands frequently, or use a alcohol-based hand cleaner. • Limit your contact with others. • When contact is necessary, keep at least a metre away from others.
  • Clean surfaces and contact points (contact points include door knobs, counters, and other high traffic areas).

A widespread infection may call for major public health measures, including: 

  • Limiting public gatherings
  • Vaccination clinics
  • Antibiotic clinic

Landslides

Numerous landslides occur each year. A landslide is a downward movement of soil, which may be slow or sudden, occur naturally or be caused by man. It generally carries a small soil mass with it and occurs more frequently with clay soil.

Prevention tip

Contact your municipality to find out about the local geology and the history of landslides in your area. Consult maps that indicate hazard-prone areas.

Avoid doing work on your lot that could increase soil instability, for example:

  • Digging a hole on a slope
  • Building at the top or the base of a slope
  • Draining a pool by emptying the water on a steep slope

Report any abnormalities to the municipal authorities:

  • Cracks on your lot
  • Bulge or depression on a slope
  • Rockslide
  • Unusual seepage of water

Take action in the event of a landslide

To prevent hazards and injury in the event of a landslide:

If you are indoors:

Take refuge in the part of the building opposite the landslide and take shelter under a solid piece of furniture. Hold firmly onto an object that is solidly anchored until all movement has stopped.

If you are outdoors:

Quickly move away from the probable path of the landslide. Stay far away from river banks, trees, electrical wires and utility poles.

Do not approach the landslide area, as it often remains unstable.

Evacuate your home

If the authorities require it or you believe your safety is in jeopardy, evacuate your home. Inform your family or the municipality of the place where you plan to stay temporarily.

Return to your home

If the authorities allow it and your safety is not jeopardized, return to your home, preferably during the day, when problems and hazards are easier to see. When you arrive, take pictures to document the damage to your home.

Forest Fires

Forest fires are frequent in Québec and are often caused by human activity. The forest fire season usually starts in April until late October.

Be informed

When you go to the forest and the degree of flammability is high (in the spring or during a drought), be informed about the following subjects:

  • The danger of fire (in French only) in your region or in the sector where you intend to go, and the preventive measures (in French only) in effect. These measures may consist in:
    • A ban on open fires in the forest or nearby
    • The restriction of or a ban on logging operations or forest development activities at certain times of the day
    • A ban on access to and travel in the forest, regardless of the means of transportation and the type of forest road or path taken
  • The municipal by-laws governing outdoor fires
  • The instructions in effect in controlled zones (ZECs), parks and reserves
  • The restrictions on access to the forest, as well as on travel, work and burning in the forest

Take precautions

Here is what you can do for your protection:

  •  Always have an emergency kit within reach (at the cottage, in your backpack when hiking in the forest).
  • Control vegetation (in French only) around your home.
  • Store building materials, firewood and propane tanks more than 10 m away from any building on your land; clear away all vegetation within a radius of 3 m of the propane storage tank in order to reduce the risk of a fire spreading.
  • Keep near your home a hose or a water supply of at least 200 litres in order to intervene promptly if a fire starts.
  • Choose a cleared location, out of the wind, for a fire outside; have a shovel, a bucket of water or a rake nearby, constantly monitor your fire and, to extinguish it, spray it with abundant water and cover it with ash, sand or earth.
  • Burn anything (waste, dead leaves) at the end of the day, when there is no wind, far from vegetation and in compliance with municipal by-laws.
  • If you smoke outside, put out your cigarette butt on a rock or bury it in the ground.

Report a forest fire

To report a forest fire, call the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU) at 1 800 463-3389. For any emergency situation, call 911.

Protect yourself from smoke

The smoke caused by a forest fire moves according to the speed of the wind.

The following people are more likely to be bothered by the smoke:

  • Young children
  • The elderly
  • People with respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis
  • People with heart problems

Even if you are in good health, follow the following advice to protect yourself from the effects of the smoke:

  • Listen carefully to public notices and warnings about the presence of smoke or the air quality.
  • Avoid outdoor activities when the air quality index is poor.
  • Close the windows and doors of your home, along with the air exchange system, when there is smoke outside.
  • Breathe into a damp cloth when in the presence of thick smoke, and be sure to keep the cloth in front of your mouth and nose in order to avoid inhaling smoke.

To protect your pet from the detrimental effects of smoke, do not let your pet go outside.

If, despite all the precautions taken, you do not feel well, call Info-Santé at 811. For a medical emergency, call 911.

Plan your travel

Comply with the following instructions:

  • Plan your travel after checking the road conditions by calling Info Transports at 511 or going to the website www.quebec511.gouv.qc.ca.
  • Comply with the signs posted, particularly at the approaches to forest roads, since forest roads may be closed by the authorities because of a fire further on in the forest zone where you want to go
  • Comply with the instructions of the authorities when travelling in a convoy (a type of organized transportation by which isolated residents can get supplies or evacuate their homes, if need be, because of a fire nearby): follow the escort vehicle, do not pass other vehicles, never stop, take only the route planned, keep the windows of your vehicle closed and ensure air circulation solely inside the vehicle so as not to get smoke inside
Evacuate your home

If the authorities require it or you believe your safety is in jeopardy, evacuate your home.

Be sure to close the propane or natural gas inlet before leaving your home. Also be sure to lock the doors.

If you have time before leaving your home, and your safety is not in jeopardy, spray the land, the walls and the roof abundantly using a watering system.

Inform your family or the municipality of the place where you plan to stay temporarily.

Return to your home

If the authorities allow it and your safety is not jeopardized, return to your home, preferably during the day, when problems and hazards are easier to see. When you arrive, take pictures to document the damage to your home.

Floods

Floods are the most frequent natural hazards in Canada, and the most costly in terms of property damage. Floods can occur in any region, in the countryside or in cities. In the past, floods have affected hundreds of thousands of Canadians. They can occur at any time of the year and are most often caused by heavy rainfall, rapid melting of a thick snow pack, ice jams, or more rarely, the failure of a natural or human-made dam.

All Canadian rivers experience flooding at one time or another. The potential for flood damage is particularly high where there is development on low-lying, flood-prone lands.

Flash or sudden flooding, in which warning time is extremely limited, can result from other causes such as hurricanes, violent rainstorms, or the bursting of dams.

Though all levels of government are working to reduce the impact of floods, individuals also play an important role. Everyone has a responsibility to protect their homes and their families.

You can greatly lessen the impact of a flood by taking the time to prepare in advance. This involves three basic steps:

  • Find out what to do before, during, and after a flood.
  • Make a family emergency plan, so that everyone knows what to do, and where to go in case of an emergency.
  • Get an emergency kit, so that you and your family can be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours during a flood. 

Planning for a flood will also help prepare you for many other types of emergencies. After reading this guide, keep it in a handy spot, such as in your emergency kit.

Before a flood

To reduce the likelihood of flood damage
  • Put weather protection sealant around basement windows and the base of ground-level doors.
  • Install the drainage for downspouts a sufficient distance from your residence to ensure that water moves away from the building.
  • Consider installing a sump pump and zero reverse flow valves in basement floor drains.
  • Do not store your important documents in the basement. Keep them at a higher level, protected from flood damage.
If a flood is forecast
  • Turn off basement furnaces and the outside gas valve.
  • Take special precautions to safeguard electrical, natural gas or propane heating equipment.
  • If there is enough time, consult your electricity or fuel supplier for instructions on how to proceed.
  • Shut off the electricity only if flooding has not yet begun and the area around the fuse box is completely dry. Stand to the side of the breaker panel and look away from the panel when switching the power off. Have a flashlight with you.
If flooding is imminent
  • Move furniture, electrical appliances and other belongings to floors above ground level.
  • Remove toxic substances such as pesticides and insecticides from the flood area to prevent pollution. 
  • Remove toilet bowls and plug basement sewer drains and toilet connections with a wooden stopper. 
  • Disconnect eavestroughs if they are connected to the house sewer.
  • In some cases, homes may be protected with sandbags or polyethylene barriers. Follow instructions from local emergency officials.
  • Do NOT attempt to shut off electricity if any water is present. Water and live electrical wires can be lethal. Leave your home immediately and do not return until authorities indicate it is safe to do so.

During A Flood

  • Listen to the radio to find out what areas are affected, what roads are safe, where to go and what to do if the local emergency team asks you to leave your home.
  • Keep your emergency kit close at hand, in a portable container such as a duffel bag, backpack, or suitcase with wheels.
If you need to evacuate
  • Vacate your home when you are advised to do so by local emergency authorities. Ignoring such a warning could jeopardize the safety of your family or those who might eventually have to come to your rescue.
  • Take your emergency kit with you.
  • Follow the routes specified by officials. Don't take shortcuts. They could lead you to a blocked or dangerous area.
  • Make arrangements for pets.
  • Time permitting, leave a note informing others when you left and where you went. If you have a mailbox, leave the note there.
Never cross a flooded area
  • If you are on foot, fast water could sweep you away.
  • If you are in a car, do not drive through flood waters or underpasses. The water may be deeper than it looks and your car could get stuck or swept away by fast water.
  • Avoid crossing bridges if the water is high and flowing quickly.
  • If you are caught in fast-rising waters and your car stalls, leave it and save yourself and your passengers.

After a Flood

Re-entering your home
  • Do not return home until authorities have advised that it is safe to do so.
  • If the main power switch was not turned off prior to flooding, do not re-enter your home until a qualified electrician has determined it is safe to do so.
  • Use extreme caution when returning to your home after a flood.
  • Appliances that may have been flooded pose a risk of shock or fire when turned on. Do not use any appliances, heating, pressure, or sewage system until electrical components have been thoroughly cleaned, dried, and inspected by a qualified electrician.
  • The main electrical panel must be cleaned, dried, and tested by a qualified electrician to ensure that it is safe.
  • Depending on where you live, your municipal or the provincial inspection authority is responsible for the permitting process required before your electric utility can reconnect power to your home.
Ensure building safety
  • Make sure the building is structurally safe.
  • Look for buckled walls or floors.
  • Watch for holes in the floor, broken glass and other potentially dangerous debris.
Water
  • Flood water can be heavily contaminated with sewage and other pollutants. It can cause sickness and infections.
  • If your house has been flooded and you have a well, don't drink the water. Have it tested first.
  • Household items that have been flood-damaged will have to be discarded according to local regulations.
Documentation
  • Store all valuable papers that have been damaged in a freezer until needed. (After your cleanup, consult your lawyer to determine whether flood-damaged documents, or just the information in them, must be retained).
  • Record details of flood damage by photograph or video, if possible.
  • Register the amount of damage to your home with both your insurance agent and local municipality immediately.

Power Outage

Most power outages will be over almost as soon as they begin, but some can last much longer – up to days or even weeks. Power outages are often caused by freezing rain, sleet storms and/or high winds which damage power lines and equipment. Cold snaps or heat waves can also overload the electric power system.

During a power outage, you may be left without heating/air conditioning, lighting, hot water, or even running water. If you only have a cordless phone, you will also be left without phone service. If you do not have a battery-powered or crank radio, you may have no way of monitoring news broadcasts. In other words, you could be facing major challenges. Everyone has a responsibility to protect their homes and their families.

You can greatly lessen the impact of a power outage by taking the time to prepare in advance. This involves three basic steps:

  1. Find out what to do before, during, and after a power outage.
  2. Make a family emergency plan, so that everyone knows what to do, and where to go in case of an emergency.
  3. Get an emergency kit, so that you and your family can be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours during a power outage.

Planning for a power outage will also help prepare you for other types of emergencies. After reading this guide, keep it in a handy spot, such as in your emergency kit.

Preparing Your Home

  • You can install a non-electric standby stove or heater. Choose heating units that are not dependent on an electric motor, electric fan, or some other electric device to function. It is important to adequately vent the stove or heater with the type of chimney flue specified for it. Never connect two heating units to the same chimney flue at the same time.
  • If you have a wood-burning fireplace, have the chimney cleaned every fall in preparation for use and to eliminate creosote build-up which could ignite and cause a chimney fire.
  • If the standby heating unit will use the normal house oil or gas supply, have it connected with shut-off valves by a certified tradesperson.
  • Before considering the use of an emergency generator during a power outage, check with furnace, appliance and lighting fixture dealers or manufacturers regarding power requirements and proper operating procedures.
People with disabilities or others requiring assistance

Consider how you may be affected in a power outage, including:

  • Your evacuation route — without elevator service (if applicable)
  • Planning for a backup power supply for essential medical equipment
  • Keeping a flashlight and a cell phone handy to signal for help
  • Establishing a self-help network to assist and check on you during an emergency
  • Enrolling in a medical alert program that will signal for help if you are immobilized
  • Keeping a list of facilities that provide life-sustaining equipment or treatment
  • Keeping a list of medical conditions and treatment
  • If you live in an apartment, advise the property management that you may need assistance staying in your apartment or that you must be evacuated if there is a power outage. This will allow the property manager to plan and make the necessary arrangements on your behalf.

During A Power Outage

  • First, check whether the power outage is limited to your home. If your neighbours' power is still on, check your own circuit breaker panel or fuse box. If the problem is not a breaker or a fuse, check the service wires leading to the house. If they are obviously damaged or on the ground, stay at least 10 meters back and notify your electric supply authority. Keep the number along with other emergency numbers near your telephone.
  • If your neighbours' power is also out, notify your electric supply authority.
  • Turn off all tools, appliances and electronic equipment, and turn the thermostat(s) for the home heating system down to minimum to prevent damage from a power surge when power is restored. Also, power can be restored more easily when there is not a heavy load on the electrical system.
  • Turn off all lights, except one inside and one outside, so that both you and hydro crews outside know that power has been restored.
  • Don't open your freezer or fridge unless it is absolutely necessary. A full freezer will keep food frozen for 24 to 36 hours if the door remains closed.
  • Never use charcoal or gas barbecues, camping heating equipment, or home generators indoors. They give off carbon monoxide. Because you can't smell or see it, carbon monoxide can cause health problems and is life-threatening.
  • Use proper candle holders. Never leave lit candles unattended and keep out of reach of children. Always extinguish candles before going to bed.
  • Listen to your battery-powered or crank radio for information on the outage and advice from authorities. 
  • Make sure your home has a working carbon monoxide detector. If it is hard-wired to the house's electrical supply, ensure it has a battery-powered back-up.
  • Protect sensitive electrical appliances such as TVs, computer, and DVD players with a surge-protecting powerbar.
Use of home generators

Home generators are handy for backup electricity in case of an outage, but must only be used in accordance with the manufacturer's guidelines. A back-up generator may only be connected to your home's electrical system through an approved transfer panel and switch that has been installed by a qualified electrician. Never plug a generator into a wall outlet as serious injury can result when the current produced by the home generator is fed back into the electrical lines, and transformed to a higher voltage. This can endanger the lives of utility employees working to restore the power.

To operate a generator safely:

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions. 
  • Ensure that the generator operates outdoors in well-ventilated conditions, well away from doors or windows, to prevent exhaust gases from entering the house.
  • Connect lights and appliances directly to the generator. If extension cords must be used, ensure they are properly rated, CSA-approved cords. 
If you have to evacuate

Evacuation is more likely during winter months, when plummeting temperatures can make a house uninhabitable. Although a house can be damaged by low temperatures, the major threat is to the plumbing system. If a standby heating system is used, check to see that no part of the plumbing system can freeze.

If the house must be evacuated, protect it by taking the following precautions:

  • Turn off the main breaker or switch of the circuit-breaker panel or power-supply box.
  • Turn off the water main where it enters the house. Protect the valve, inlet pipe, and meter or pump with blankets or insulation material.
  • Drain the water from your plumbing system. Starting at the top of the house, open all taps, and flush toilets several times. Go to the basement and open the drain valve. Drain your hot water tank by attaching a hose to the tank drain valve and running it to the basement floor drain.
  • Note: If you drain a gas-fired water tank, the pilot light should be turned out – call the local gas supplier to re-light it.
  • Unhook washing machine hoses and drain.
  • Do not worry about small amounts of water trapped in horizontal pipes. Add a small amount of glycol or anti¬freeze to water left in the toilet bowl, and the sink and bathtub traps.
  • If your house is protected from groundwater by a sump pump, clear valuables from the basement floor in case of flooding.

After The Power Returns

  • Do not enter a flooded basement unless you are sure the power is disconnected.
  • Do not use flooded appliances, electrical outlets, switch boxes or fuse-breaker panels until they have been checked and cleaned by a qualified electrician.
  • Replace the furnace flue (if removed) and turn off the fuel to the standby heating unit.
  • Switch on the main electric switch (before, check to ensure appliances, electric heaters, TVs, microwaves computers, etc. were unplugged to prevent damage from a power surge).
  • Give the electrical system a chance to stabilize before reconnecting tools and appliances. Turn the heating-system thermostats up first, followed in a couple of minutes by reconnection of the fridge and freezer. Wait 10 to 15 minutes before reconnecting all other tools and appliances.
  • Close the drain valve in the basement.
  • Turn on the water supply. Close lowest valves/taps first and allow air to escape from upper taps.
  • Make sure that the hot water heater is filled before turning on the power to it.
  • Check food supplies in refrigerators, freezers and cupboards for signs of spoilage. If a freezer door has been kept closed, food should stay frozen 24 to 36 hours, depending on the temperature. When food begins to defrost (usually after two days), it should be cooked; otherwise it should be thrown out or composted.
  • As a general precaution, keep a bag of ice cubes in the freezer. If you return home after a period of absence and the ice has melted and refrozen, there is a good chance that the food is spoiled. When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Reset your clocks, automatic timers, and alarms.
  • Restock your emergency kit so the supplies will be there when needed again.

Dangerous Products

Hazardous Spills

  • Listen to your radio and local news channel for instructions and do as you are told.
  • When there is an airborne hazardous material present, ‘Shelter-in-place’ means to stay indoor, either at home or in a secure area.
  • If you are driving, make sure you are going away from the spill. Turn around and drive away from the affected area.

Shelter-in-place instructions

  • Never go through smoke or fumes to seek shelter. Go around or find another location to take shelter.
  • Close all doors and windows, shut down air conditioners, furnaces and ensure they are set to not come on.
  • Cover windows with plastic and seal with duct tape.
  • Place wet towels under the doors to prevent the entry of smoke or fumes.
  • Do not use fireplaces or dryers.
  • If smoke or fumes affect you, cover your mouth and nose with a wet towel.
  • Watch the local news channels and stay tuned for radio updates and further information.
  • Stay put until you are advised otherwise: it is the safest place to be.

After an emergency

Do not re-enter your house until the authorities have advised you it is safe to do so!

  • Check for blown fuses or short-circuits. If something seems damaged, call your utility company.
  • Notify your insurance company if there is any damage.
  • If the gas was shut-off, call the gas company to re-establish the connection.
  • Make sure to plug or re-connect your fire alarms and your carbon monoxide detectors and ensure that they are working. Replace them if necessary. 

Drought

Droughts are prolonged periods during which it rains less than the seasonal norm. This can last several weeks or years and causes difficulties by the lack of water it generates, whether for drinking, washing or watering crops. Drought conditions can worsen if temperature continues to rise and demand for water increases. Low water levels can become more common given the climate changes we are experiencing.

Learn how to manage water consumption during a drought.

If you own or rent

  • Repair all leaks from faucets and toilets;
  • Install toilets, dishwashers, shower heads and other low-consumption devices;
  • Comply with municipal water use restrictions (eg, lawn watering, car wash);
  • Do not let water run unnecessarily. When not using water, turn off the tap. It is a very bad habit to let the water run while you brush your teeth for example;
  • Choose drought-resistant plants and trees;
  • Use the washing machine or dishwasher only when loaded to capacity.

If you are a farmer

  • Regularly check your irrigation system for leaks;
  • Irrigate in the evening or late in the day when temperatures are lower and the loss due to evaporation will be lower;
  • Avoid irrigating in windy weather;
  • Use rain gauges to measure the amount of rain your crops receive;
  • Make sure your irrigation system is watering at a rate that allows the soil to absorb water well.

If you work in the manufacturing sector

  • Establish a water conservation program;
  • Evaluate factory operations;
  • Determine ways to increase efficiency.

Prepare for a drought

Collect water in case of emergency

Set up a water-rationing plan. In the event of a water cut, it is necessary to ration the water. Severe drought can last for weeks or even months, but by keeping and rationing the water properly, you and your family can hold for several weeks with bottled water:

  • Keep at least 4 Liters of water per day per person at home. Note that some people need more water than others, such as children, lactating women, and sick or injured people. This water should only be use as a last resort. Make sure each member of your family knows how much water they are allowed to use in case of drought. If the situation becomes critical and you do not have enough drinking water, do not ration the water to the point of becoming dehydrated.
  • Install a rainwater recovery system. Collect some of the rainwater to enjoy more. It is possible to reuse the rainwater to water your garden or to clean. This will reduce your water bill by the same amount, even if no drought occurs. It is easy to install a rain collector:
    • Get a water tank. They are found in gardening stores, they can generally contain several hundred liters. Get several if you also intend to conserve water.
    • Place the water tank under a gutter and direct the rainwater in it.
    • If you do not have a gutter, place the water tank under a roof edge where water flows when it rains. Rainwater must be carefully filtered before being consumed. It should be drunk only in case of emergency, after boiling for at least three minutes.
Advice

Reuse the water. When possible, reuse the water instead of throwing it away. Water can be wasted in different ways in a home. Rather than letting the water run down the drain, get it back to make good use of it. Place a bucket in the shower or sink to catch the water that you let flow in this way. You can then use this water to water the plants rather than using the garden hose.

Water Treatment

If you have used all of your stored water and there are no other reliable clean water sources, it may become necessary to treat suspicious water. Treat all water of uncertain quality before using it for drinking, food washing or preparation, washing dishes, brushing teeth or making ice. In addition to having a bad odor and taste, contaminated water can contain microorganisms (germs) that cause diseases such as dysentery, cholera, typhoid and hepatitis.

There are many ways to treat water. Often the best solution is a combination of methods. Before treating, let any suspended particles settle to the bottom or strain them through coffee filters or layers of clean cloth.

Boiling

Boiling is the safest method of treating water. In a large pot or kettle, bring water to a rolling boil for one full minute, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before drinking. Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers. This also will improve the taste of stored water.

Chlorination

You can use household liquid bleach to kill microorganisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, color safe bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners.

Add 16 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight bleach odor. If it doesn’t, then repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes. If it still does not smell of chlorine, discard it and find another source of water.

Other chemicals that do not contain 5.25 or 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient are not recommended and should not be used.

Distillation

While boiling and chlorination will kill most microbes in water, distillation will remove microbes (germs) that resist these methods, as well as heavy metals, salts and most other chemicals. Distillation involves boiling water and then collection of only the vapor that condenses. The condensed vapor will not include salt or most other impurities.

Severe Storm

Thunderstorms, hail, blizzards, ice storms, hurricanes, storm surges, tornadoes and heavy rain can develop quickly and threaten life and property. These severe storms occur in all regions of Canada and in all seasons.

When one strikes, visit Environment Canada's Weather office website and listen to the local media for severe weather warnings and advice. Keep a battery-powered or crank radio on hand as power outages can be frequent during severe storms. Everyone has a responsibility to protect their homes and their families.

You can greatly lessen the impact of a severe storm by taking the time to prepare in advance. This involves three basic steps:

  1. Find out about the risks and the type of storms in your region.
  2. Make a family emergency plan, so that everyone knows what to do, and where to go in case of an emergency. 
  3. Get an emergency kit, so that you and your family can be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours during a severe storm.

Planning for a storm will also help prepare you for many other types of emergencies. After reading this guide, keep it in a handy spot, such as in your emergency kit.

Preparing for severe storms

  • Trim dead branches and cut down dead trees to reduce the danger of these falling onto your house during a storm.
  • Clean gutters, drains and downpipes.
  • Make sure your roof is in good repair.
  • Prepare an emergency kit. 

When a storm is imminent

  • When a severe storm is on the horizon, Environment Canada will issue weather warnings through the Weatheroffice website, automated telephone information lines and its “Weatheradio” service. Radio and television stations will also broadcast Environment Canada weather statements. Pay attention to that information.
  • Always check the weather forecast before heading out on the water. Do not go boating in a storm. If you are on the water and see bad weather approaching, head for shore immediately. Remember to file a sail plan with a responsible person, and frequently monitor the VHF marine or Weatheradio broadcast throughout your trip.
  • Secure everything that might be blown around or torn loose – indoors and outdoors. Flying objects such as garbage cans and lawn furniture can injure people and damage property.
  • Consider going to the sheltered area that you and your family identified in your emergency plan.

During a storm

  • If you are indoors during a storm, stay away from windows, doors and fireplaces.
  • If you are advised by officials to evacuate, do so. Delay may make later evacuation difficult or impossible. Take your emergency kit with you.
  • If indoors, you can use a cellular or cordless telephone during a severe storm, but it is not safe to use a corded telephone.
  • If you are in a car, stop the car away from trees or power lines that might fall on you. Avoid the base of steep or unstable slopes and low areas prone to flooding. Stay inside the car.  
A. Blizzards and winter storms

Blizzards come in on a wave of cold arctic air, bringing snow, bitter cold, high winds and poor visibility due to blowing snow.

  • Blizzards:
    • May last anywhere from a few hours to several days.
    • Are often accompanied by high winds in the Prairies, Arctic, northern Ontario and northern Quebec. 
    • Typically bring heavy snowfalls in British Columbia, the Atlantic Provinces, southern and eastern Quebec and areas near the Great Lakes.
    • May include a wind chill “warning”, issued when very cold temperatures (-35°C or colder) combined with wind could create outdoor conditions hazardous to human activity.
    • Can give rise to a wind storm warning when winds are expected to reach a steady speed of between 65-75 km/h, or 90-100 km/h in gusts.
    • Can leave heavy snowfall that can cause roof failures or collapses.
  • What to do
    • If a blizzard or heavy blowing snow is forecast, you may want to string a safety line between your house and any other structures or buildings in case you have to go to them during the storm.
    • When a winter storm hits, stay indoors. If you must go outside, dress for the weather. Outer clothing should be tightly woven and water-repellent. The jacket should have a hood. Wear mittens – they are warmer than gloves – and a hat, as significant body heat is lost through the head.
    • In wide-open areas, visibility is limited during heavy blowing snow or a blizzard. You can easily lose your way.
    • If a blizzard strikes, do not try to walk to another building unless there is a rope to guide you or something you can follow.
    • If you must travel during a winter storm, do so during the day and let someone know your route and arrival time.
    • If your car gets stuck in a blizzard or snowstorm, stay in your car. Allow fresh air in your car by opening the window slightly on the sheltered side – away from the wind. You can run the car engine about 10 minutes every half-hour if the exhaust system is not blocked with snow. Check the exhaust pipe periodically to make sure it is not blocked. Remember: you can't smell potentially fatal carbon monoxide fumes.
    • To keep your hands and feet warm, exercise them periodically. In general, it is a good idea to keep moving to avoid falling asleep. If you do try to shovel the snow from around your car, avoid overexerting yourself.
    • Overexertion in the bitter cold can cause death as a result of hypothermia from sweating or a heart attack.
    • If snow is excessive or a roof shows signs of distress, contact a professional who is experienced in safe snow removal procedures. Unsafe procedures may cause personal injury and structural damage. Prevent access to areas under roofs where snow could fall.
    • If you live on a farm, shelter animals. Generally, if the structure is sound, animals should be placed indoors. Once they are inside, secure all openings to the outside. Water supplies should be checked to ensure they have not frozen.
B. Hurricanes: 

Hurricanes are violent tropical storms. These extreme storms occur when winds revolve around a centre of low pressure. In the centre, called the eye, there is often a calm area of blue sky. 

  • Hurricanes 
    • Occasionally hit eastern Canada, usually between June and November (September is the peak month).
    • Are bigger and cause more widespread damage than tornadoes (a very large system can be up to 1,000 kilometers wide).
    • Wield very strong winds – of at least 120 kilometers per hour – around the “eye” accompanied by torrential rains.
    • Can bring heavy rain and cause significant flooding.
    • Can often be tracked several days in advance of landfall.
    • Usually move slowly and can batter communities for several hours.
  • What to do
    • During hurricane season, pay attention to weather forecasts and warnings.
    • If you live on the coast or in a low-lying area near the coast, move inland and to higher ground. The high winds create huge waves at sea which can be very damaging when combined with a storm surge (see Storm Surges section).
    • Do not go down to the water to watch the storm. Most fatalities during hurricanes occur as a result of being caught in large waves, storm surges or flood waters.
    • If the eye of the hurricane passes over, there will be a lull in the wind lasting from several minutes to half an hour. Stay in a safe place. Make emergency repairs only and remember that once the eye has passed, the winds will return from the opposite direction with possibly even greater force.
    • Listen for reports from authorities on your crank or battery powered radio.
    • On a farm, it may be better to leave livestock unsheltered. During past hurricanes some animals left outside suffered less injury than those in shelters, which were injured by collapsing structures and flying objects that may have been avoided outside. 
C. Ice storms 

Freezing rain occurs when raindrops fall from a warm layer of air into air that is below freezing and become supercooled. When the supercooled droplets strike a surface below 0°C they instantly freeze, forming a layer of ice.

  • Ice storms
    • Freezing rain can occur anywhere in the country, but is particularly common in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.
    • Remember that ice, branches or power lines can continue to break and fall for several hours after the end of the precipitation.
  • What to do
    • Ice from freezing rain accumulates on branches, power lines and buildings. If you must go outside when a significant amount of ice has accumulated, pay attention to branches or wires that could break due to the weight of the ice and fall on you.
    • Never approach power lines. A hanging power line could be charged (live) and you could be electrocuted. Stay back at least 10 meters (33 feet) from wires or anything in contact with them.
    • When freezing rain is forecast, avoid driving if possible. Even a small amount of freezing rain can make roads extremely slippery. Wait several hours after freezing rain ends so that road maintenance crews have enough time to spread sand or salt on icy roads.
    • Rapid onsets of freezing rain combined with strong winds increase the chances for hypothermia. If you live on a farm, move livestock promptly to shelter where feed is available. Forage is often temporarily inaccessible during and immediately after ice storms.
D. Storm surges 

A storm surge is an abnormally high coastal water level caused by strong winds and low air pressure during storms.

  • Storm surges:
    • Occur on all of Canada's coasts, including those of the Great Lakes.
    • Occur with severe storms such as hurricanes, blizzards, and ice storms.
    • Can damage buildings, docks, boats and other structures near the shoreline.
  • What to do
    • Your property may be prone to flooding from storm surges. If so, do not store valuables and emergency equipment in your basement or lower floor. Consider removing exterior doors and windows to your basement and sealing holes and cracks.
    • Consider securing small structures such as cottages and mobile homes to a foundation to prevent them from being floated off their footings. If possible, seek shelter in a more secure building.
    • Storm surges are predictable and are typically forecast as part of coastal storm warnings. Monitor weather forecasts.
    • If flooding is predicted, be prepared to turn off household power and gas. Evacuate when instructed to do so by local authorities. 
E. Thunderstorms, lightning and hail

Thunderstorms are often accompanied by high winds, hail, lightning, heavy rain and in rare cases can produce tornadoes. Hail is formed when updrafts in thunderclouds carry raindrops upward into extremely cold areas of the atmosphere, where they freeze and merge into lumps of ice.

  • Thunderstorms, lightning and hail
    • Thunderstorms and lightning occur throughout Canada but less frequently in the North. On average, 10 people die each year in Canada and up to 160 are injured during such storms.
    • Thunderstorms are usually over within an hour, although a series of thunderstorms can last several hours.
    • Hailstorms occur across Canada, mostly from May to October. They are most frequent in Alberta, the southern Prairies and in southern Ontario.
    • Some hailstones are the size of peas while others can be as big as grapefruits.
    • Hail comes down at great speed, especially when accompanied by high winds and can cause serious injuries and damages.
  • What to do if outside
    • If you are caught outside and you can see lightning or hear thunder, you are in danger of being hit. Seek shelter immediately either in an enclosed building or a hard-topped vehicle. There is no safe place outside in a thunderstorm.
    • If caught outside far from a safe location, stay away from tall objects, such as trees, poles, wires and fences. Take shelter in a low lying area.
    • Wait 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder before going outside again.
  • What to do if inside
    • Before a severe thunderstorm, unplug radios, televisions and appliances (especially those that may start up automatically when the power is restored). Listen for weather updates on your wind-up or battery-powered radio.
    • If you need to use the phone during a thunderstorm use a cordless phone.
    • Stay away from items that may conduct electricity, such as corded telephones, appliances, sinks, bathtubs, radiators and metal pipes.
    • Consult our “Power Outages – What to do?” publication for more information.
    • If hail is forecast, protect your vehicle by putting it in the garage or other enclosed space.
    • Take cover when hail begins to fall. Do not go out to cover plants, cars or garden furniture.
    • When a hailstorm hits, stay indoors, and keep yourself and your pets away from windows, glass doors and skylights which can shatter if hit by hailstones.
E.Tornados
  • Warning signs of a potential tornado
    • Severe thunderstorms.
    • An extremely dark sky, sometimes highlighted by green or yellow clouds.
    • A rumbling or a whistling sound caused by flying debris.
    • A funnel cloud at the rear base of a thundercloud, often behind a curtain of heavy rain or hail.
  • What to do
    • In all cases
      • Get as close to the ground as possible, protect your head and watch for flying debris.
      • Do not chase tornadoes – they are unpredictable and can change course abruptly.
      • A tornado is deceptive. It may appear to be standing still but may in fact be moving toward you.
    • In a house
      • Go to the basement or take shelter in a small interior ground floor room such as a bathroom, closet or hallway.
      • If you have no basement, protect yourself by taking shelter under a heavy table or desk.
      • In all cases, stay away from windows, outside walls and doors.
    • On a farm
      • If your personal safety is not at risk, you may have time to open routes of escape for your livestock. Open the gate, if necessary, and then exit the area in a direction perpendicular to the expected path of the tornado.
    • In a recreational vehicle or mobile home
      • Find shelter elsewhere, preferably in a building with a strong foundation.
      • If no shelter is available, crouch down in a ditch away from the mobile home or recreational vehicle. Beware of flooding from downpours and be prepared to move.
    • In a high rise building
      • Take shelter in an inner hallway or room, ideally in the basement or on the ground floor.
      • Do not use the elevator.
      • Stay away from windows.
    • In a gymnasium, church or auditorium
      • Large buildings with wide-span roofs may collapse if a tornado hits.
      • If you are in one of these buildings and cannot leave, take cover under a sturdy structure such as a table or desk.
    • In a vehicle
      • If you spot a tornado in the distance go to the nearest solid shelter.
      • If the tornado is close, get out of your car and take cover in a low-lying area, such as a ditch.
      • Do not take shelter under an overpass or a bridge. Winds can accelerate under an overpass or a bridge and cause injury or death from flying debris. 

Earthquake

Approximately 5,000 earthquakes are recorded in Canada each year, most of them small ones.Whileearthquakes can occur in any Canadian region, British Columbia is most at risk from a major earthquake. Other areas prone to earthquakes are the St. Lawrence and Ottawa River valleys, as well as parts of the three northern territories.

In the past 100 years, at least nine earthquakes in or near Canada have registered a magnitude greater than 7. A few have caused extensive damage. Even a magnitude 6 earthquake could do extensive damage in a built-up area. In fact, a strong quake near one of Canada's major urban areas would likely be the most destructive natural disaster this country could experience.

Everyone has a responsibility to protect their homes and their families. Since no one can predict with certainty when an earthquake will happen, it is important to get prepared in advance. This involves three basic steps:

  1. Find out what to do before, during, and after an earthquake.
  2. Make a family emergency plan, so that everyone knows what to do, and where to go in case of an emergency.
  3. Get an emergency kit, so that you and your family can be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.

Planning for an earthquake will also help prepare you for many other types of emergencies. After reading this guide, keep it in a handy spot, such as in your emergency kit.

What to expect during an earthquake

Small or moderate earthquakes
  • These can last only a few seconds and represent no emergency risk.
  • Ceiling lights may move and some minor rattling of objects may occur in your home.
  • You may feel a slight quiver under your feet if you are outside.
  • If you are close to its source, you may hear a loud bang followed by shaking.
Large earthquakes
  • These can last up to several minutes and constitute a natural disaster if its epicentre is near a densely populated area, or its magnitude sufficiently large for the region.
  • The ground or floor will move, perhaps violently.
  • Whether far away or close to the source, you will probably feel shaking followed by a rolling motion, much like being at sea.
  • If you are far away from the source, you might see swaying buildings or hear a roaring sound.
  • You may feel dizzy and be unable to walk during the earthquake.
  • If you live in a high rise or a multi-storey building, you may experience more sway and less shaking than in a smaller, single-storey building. Lower floors will shake rapidly, much like residential homes. On upper floors, movement will be slower but the building will move farther from side to side. 
  • Furnishings and unsecured objects could fall over or slide across the floor or be thrown with damaging force across the room.
  • Unsecured light fixtures and ceiling panels may fall.
  • Windows may break.
  • Fire alarms and sprinkler systems may be activated.
  • Lights and power may go off.

Before an Earthquake

Go through your home, imagining what could happen to each part of it, if shaken by a violent earthquake. Check off the items that you have completed in this list.

  • Teach everybody in the family (if they are old enough) how to turn off the water and electricity. 
  • Clearly label the on-off positions for the water, electricity and gas.
  • Repair loose roof shingles.
  • Secure water heaters to wall studs or masonry using a bracing kit, to reduce the possibility of the heater falling and rupturing gas and water connections.
  • Secure major appliances to walls, such as refrigerators.
  • Secure costly and heavy electronics.
  • Secure the tops of top-heavy furniture to a wall by anchoring to studs and using flexible fasteners. Keep heavy items on lower shelves.
  • Secure expensive or fragile items that if damaged would be a significant loss.
  • Affix mirrors, paintings and other hanging objects securely, so they won't fall off hooks.
  • Locate beds and chairs away from chimneys and windows. Don't hang heavy pictures and other items over beds. Closed curtains and blinds will help stop broken window glass from falling on beds.
  • Put anti-skid pads under TVs, computers and other small appliances, or secure them with Velcro or other such product.
  • Use child-proof or safety latches on cupboards to stop contents from spilling out.
  • Keep flammable items and household chemicals away from heat and where they are less likely to spill.
  • Secure items in the garage to reduce hazardous material spills and damage to vehicles.
  • Consult a professional for additional ways to protect your home, such as bolting the house to its foundation and other structural mitigation techniques.
  • If you live in an apartment block or a multi-storey building, work with your building manager or condominium board to decide how best to “quake-safe” your unit. Seek advice from professionals (building engineers, emergency preparedness authorities) if you are unsure about what to do.
  • If you live in a mobile home, you can leave the wheels on the mobile home to limit its fall. Or, you can install a structural bracing system to reduce the chance of your unit falling off its supports. Ensure the awning on your home is securely supported and fastened to the unit. For information on the best way to brace your unit, contact your local mobile home dealer or a mobile home owner's association. 
  • Review your Emergency Plan with your family (see Step 2 for more information).
  • Have an emergency kit that will sustain you and your family for at least 72 hours (see Step 3 for more information).
  • Discuss earthquake insurance with your insurance broker. Check your coverage – it could affect your financial ability to recover losses after an earthquake.

During an earthquake

Wherever you are when an earthquake starts, take cover immediately. Move a few steps to a nearby safe place if need be. Stay there until the shaking stops.

If you are indoors
  • DROP, COVER AND HOLD ON
  • Stay inside.
  • Drop under heavy furniture such as a table, desk, bed or any solid furniture.
  • Cover your head and torso to prevent being hit by falling objects.
  • Hold on to the object that you are under so that you remain covered. Be prepared to move with the object until the shaking has finished.
  • If you can't get under something strong, or if you are in a hallway, flatten yourself or crouch against an interior wall and protect your head and neck with your arms.
  • If you are in a shopping mall, go into the nearest store. Stay away from windows, and shelves with heavy objects.
  • If you are at school, get under a desk or table and hold on. Face away from windows.
  • If you are in a wheelchair, lock the wheels and protect the back of your head and neck.
If you are outdoors
  • Stay outside.
  • Go to an open area away from buildings. The most dangerous place is near exterior walls.
  • If you are in a crowded public place, take cover where you won't be trampled.
If you are in a vehicle
  • Pull over to a safe place where you are not blocking the road. Keep roads clear for rescue and emergency vehicles.
  • Avoid bridges, overpasses, underpasses, buildings or anything that could collapse.
  • Stop the car and stay inside.
  • Listen to your car radio for instructions from emergency officials.
  • Do not attempt to get out of your car if downed power lines are across it. Wait to be rescued.
  • Place a HELP sign in your window if you need assistance.
  • If you are on a bus, stay in your seat until the bus stops. Take cover in a protected place. If you can't take cover, sit in a crouched position and protect your head from falling debris. 

Avoid the following in an earthquake

  • Doorways. Doors may slam shut and cause injuries.
  • Windows, bookcases, tall furniture and light fixtures. You could be hurt by shattered glass or heavy objects.
  • Elevators. If you are in an elevator during an earthquake, hit the button for every floor and get out as soon as you can.
  • Downed power lines – stay at least 10 metres away to avoid injury.
  • Coastline. Earthquakes can trigger large ocean waves called tsunamis. If you are near a coastline in a high risk area during a strong earthquake, immediately move inland or to higher ground and remain there until officials declare the area safe.

After an earthquake

  • Stay calm. Help others if you are able.
  • Be prepared for aftershocks.
  • Listen to the radio or television for information from authorities. Follow their instructions.
  • Place corded telephone receivers back in their cradles; only make calls if requiring emergency services.
  • Put on sturdy shoes and protective clothing to help prevent injury from debris, especially broken glass.
  • Check your home for structural damage and other hazards. If you suspect your home is unsafe, do not re-enter.
  • Unplug appliances and broken lights to prevent fire starts when the power is restored.
  • Stay away from brick walls and chimneys as they may be damaged or weakened and could collapse during aftershocks. Do not use your fireplace if your chimney has been damaged as a fire may start or gases could be released.
  • If you have to leave your home, take your emergency kit and other essential items with you. Post a message in clear view, indicating where you can be found. Do not waste food or water as supplies may be interrupted.
  • Do not light matches or turn on light switches until you are sure there are no gas leaks or flammable liquids spilled. Use a flashlight to check utilities and do not shut them off unless damaged. Leaking gas will smell like rotten eggs.
  • If your home is equipped with natural gas: Call your gas provider immediately to report any concerns or if you smell gas (rotten egg smell). Shut off gas valve if you know how. Once the gas is turned off, don't turn it back on. Only a licensed gas technician can turn the gas on safely.
  • If tap water is still available immediately after the earthquake, fill a bathtub and other containers in case the supply gets cut off. If there is no running water, there may be water in the hot water tank (make sure water is not hot before touching it) and toilet reservoir (not the bowl).
  • Do not flush toilets if you suspect sewer lines are broken.
  • Use extreme caution with hazardous materials or spills. When in doubt, leave your home.
  • Check on your neighbours after looking after members of your own household. Organize rescue measures if people are trapped or call for emergency assistance if you cannot safely help them.
  • If you have pets, try to find and comfort them. If you have to evacuate, take them to a pre-identified pet-friendly shelter.
  • Place a HELP sign in your window if you need assistance.