Seven steps to emergency preparedness

Step 1: Create an Emergency Communications Plan

Choose an out-of-town contact that your family or household will call or e-mail to check in with should an emergency occur. Make sure you choose someone who lives far enough as to not be directly affected by the same event.

Make a list of your designated contact's telephone numbers (home, work, cellular or pager) and e-mail addresses for everyone in the family or household, designated contact, workplace and your children’s school.

Limit telephone use and keep conversations short during an emergency to help free up lines for those that need help.

Step 2: Establish a Meeting Place

Having a predetermined meeting place away from your home will save time and minimize confusion should your home be affected by an emergency, or if your neighbourhood or community is evacuated. You may even want to make arrangements to stay with a family member or friend in case of an emergency. Be sure to include arrangements for any pets in these plans, since pets are not permitted in shelters and some hotels will not accept them.

Step 3: Assemble an Emergency Preparedness Kit

If you are asked to evacuate your home or to temporarily shelter in place inside your home for a period of time, prepare an emergency preparedness kit in an easy-to-carry container such as a duffel bag or small plastic trash can and store it in an easily accessible location, such as a closet shelf on the main floor. Aim to have an emergency preparedness kit that will keep you and your family self-sufficient in your home for at least three days.

Step 4: Learn about your Community Emergency Plans, Arrangements and Authorities

  • Contact your local community offices to learn about their emergency plans. Find out where emergency shelters are located and whether there are designated emergency
  • Keep a list of all emergency and non-emergency numbers, including police, fire and paramedic services, your personal physician and hospitals. To locate the emergency services office closest to you, check the Red Pages in your phone book or call 3-1-1 (TTY 580-2401).
  • If you live in an apartment building or retirement residence, or attend a school or work, these institutions should have an emergency plan. Find out what that plan is, and what your part is in it.

Step 5: Check on the Emergency Plan of Children's School or Day-care Centre

You need to know if your children will be kept at school until you or a designated adult can pick them up, or whether they will be sent home on their own. Be sure that the school has updated information about how to reach parents and responsible caregivers to arrange for pick up. Find out ahead of time what type of authorization the school requires to release a child to someone you trust should you not be able to collect your child yourself.

Step 6: Learn some Basic First Aid Techniques

Knowing how to render first aid and CPR is another crucial preparedness measure. In an emergency, remember that you should always tend to your own well being first. First aid training will help you to help yourself and those around you

Step 7: Know how and when to evacuate if you live in a high-rise building

Know the evacuation plan for your building and what to do in the event of an alarm.

Know the location of each exit stairwell on your floor, and identify them as primary (closest) and secondary exits.

  • Keep the corridors and hallways leading to these exits free and clear of obstruction. Never use the elevator to evacuate a high-rise during an alarm.
  • In case of a power outage, have extra drinking water stored, especially if you live on higher floors.