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Sunday, 26 June 2016

Emergency Preparedness - Are you ready when an emergency happens now?


Personal Emergency Preparedness - Are You Ready?

by Eugene Kelly



The recent earthquakes in Ecuador and the current wildfires in Alberta, Canada are reminders that emergencies can occur at any time and any place. An emergency can occur instantly or develop slowly. It can last moments or extend for months. In light of this, we should all be taking steps to prepare ourselves and our families for the emergencies that we might face in our communities.



What would you need to do to prepare for a major emergency?

The best way to keep you and your family safe is to be prepared before an emergency happens. Governments and organizations develop plans to save lives and minimize damage. Having our own family emergency plan is a pro-active beginning to helping prepare us and our families to be able to cope with the effects of an emergency.

Get ready now and follow these steps to prepare for an emergency:


1. Get informed - Get the official information from your local government resources that you need during an emergency. Toronto Office of Emergency Management.


                                                                                     Image from Get Emergency Ready (City of Toronto)
2. Emergency plan - Make a plan for you and your family to be prepared for all emergencies. Here are some things to consider when making a plan:

  • Identifying two places for the family to meet.
  1. A location outside your home
  2. A location away from your neighborhood in case you can't return home
  • Review and practice the plan with your family, including your children, including how to contact family members such as children's school or daycare center and other places where they regularly spend time away from home. Example: Designate a contact person outside the area who family members can call if separated.
  • Plan safe routes away from your home to safe areas. Make sure your children are aware of the routes away from home.
  • Develop a plan for family pets as some evacuation shelters may not allow animals
  • Keep current important documents in a safe-deposit box and provide copies to designated contact persons.



3. Emergency kit - Make an emergency kit that can last at least 72 hours after an
emergency. Here are some of the basic supplies you should have on hand.

  • At least three-day supply of bottled water, packaged dried and canned food 
  • First aid kit and essential medicines 
  • Pet food and pet carrier
  • Manual can opener
  • Portable radio and flashlights with spare batteries in waterproof bags
  • Cash and credit cards
  • Special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members
Tips: Simple things like having a non-electric can opener and non-perishable foods on hand, a list of key phone numbers and addresses, an extra set of car keys and keeping your car's gas tank at least half full are all personal emergency preparedness activities that we can easily accomplish.

                                                               Image from Get Emergency Ready (City of Toronto)
4. Be aware -  Pay attention to public warnings and updates from media outlets, news and social media. Warnings will be issued when an emergency is likely to impact you as this can provide you with information on what is happening and to help you in making good decisions to protect yourself and your family.


Pay attention to public warnings 
and updates from media outlets















Protect from extreme heat this summer

North American summers are hot and most summers see heat waves in many parts of the United States and Canada. Heat can be one of the leading weather-related danger resulting in fatalities and heat-related illnesses each year.

What to do during Extreme Heat Alerts in the summer?

Quick Facts

  • Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing and wide-brimmed hats made of breathable fabric. 
  • Plan outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day or choose indoor locations with air conditioning or outdoor locations with shade (tree-shaded areas can be cooler than a surrounding, non-shaded area). 
  • Take extra breaks if you must do physical activity in extreme heat, remove gear to let body cool off and drinking lots of water. 
  • Take cool baths or showers 
  • Keep home cool by turning off indoor lights; closing awnings, curtains or blinds to block out the sun; use an air conditioner or fan.
  • Never leave people or pets inside parked vehicles as temperatures inside can become extremely dangerous during hot days and reach over 50 degrees Celsius or 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Heat illness: Symptoms can include dizziness, nausea and headache. If someone you know are experiencing symptoms of heat illness, immediately move to a cool place and drink liquids such as Water.
  • Extreme heat can also cause adverse health effects including heat cramps (usually in the legs or abdomen), heat edema (swelling of the hands, feet and ankles), heat exhaustion (characterized by heavy sweating, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and fainting) and heat stroke. 
  • Heat stroke is a serious medical emergency with symptoms including dizziness, confusion and an altered mental state. Call local emergency number immediately if you are caring for someone who has a high body temperature and is either unconscious, confused or has stopped sweating.


Related links:

Get Emergency Ready (City of Toronto)

Keep food safe at home

Heat impact on health

About the author


Eugene Kelly - Certified Public Health Inspector (Canada) and the former coordinator of City of Toronto Emergency Plan - Office of Emergency Management. 

Toronto Emergency Plan - Operational Support Function, Emergency Operations Centre

1 comment:

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