In your day-to-day living, disasters may seem a distant possibility. Yet natural disasters such as floods or tornadoes... Technological or environmental accidents such as chemical spills... Or service disruptions such as power failures during the winter can strike any community, including yours, at any time.
If you're unprepared for a disaster, it can shatter your life.
Expect the unexpected and plan for it. Knowing what to do when a disaster strikes will help you better control the situation and be in a better position to recover more quickly.
No community is equipped to handle all the demands of a catastrophe. Help your community by preparing yourself.
Make sure everyone in your family knows what to do before, during and after an emergency.
Set up a family meeting this week to discuss how you can best prepare for an emergency. Have your own plan.
Know what to do before a disaster strikes
Will your whole family think clearly and logically in a crisis? Not many of us can. So do your clear, logical thinking now - when you have the time to be thorough.
Know your enemy
Find out what natural and technological disasters could happen in your community. Know what to expect during each disaster. Your best protection in any emergency is knowing what to do.
Look at your own situation
Hazard-proof your home
Anticipate what could go wrong in your home and take corrective action. If you live in an earthquake zone, move or secure objects that could fall and injure you: books, plants, mirrors, lamps, china. Secure objects that could tip and start a fire: water heater, gas appliances. (See also: Severe storms)
If you live in a tornado zone, secure anything that might be blown around or torn loose, both indoors and outdoors.
If you live in a flood-prone area, remove all chemical products from the basement. Move irreplaceable belongings to upper floors.
You can install a non-electric, standby heating unit that is not dependent on a motor, fan, or any other electrical device to function. Vent the stove or heater adequately with the type of chimney flue specified for it. Never connect two heating units to the same chimney flue at the same time.
Post emergency numbers
Keep a list of key telephone numbers and addresses near the phone. (If there's been a major disaster, use the phone only if it's absolutely necessary. Emergency crews will need all available lines.)
Check your insurance
Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage for the range of risks in your community.
Prepare an emergency survivial kit
Aim to have an emergency survival kit that will keep you and your family self-sufficient in your home for at least three days.
If you've got a flashlight, a battery-operated or crank radio, food, water and blankets, you already have part of an emergency survival kit. All you have to do is assemble the supplies in an easy-to-carry container (in case you have to evacuate).
Keep a smaller survival kit in your car
A blanket, extra clothing, a candle in a deep can, and matches can save your life.
Here are some other steps that can make your life more tolerable in the event of a disaster.
Choose an out-of-area or out-of-province family contact
Choose someone in another province to be your family's contact. After the disaster, it is often easier to call out of the region, as the local phone lines might be tied up. Make sure all family members memorize this person's name and telephone number and know they should call your family contact if they get separated from the family.
Have a show and tell
If you live in a house: teach members of your family where and how to shut off the water, electricity and gas supply. Make big, easy-to-see signs, saying Breaker Panel (or main circuit breaker), Gas and Main Water supply. Put these signs near the breaker panel, gas valve and main water valve.
If you live in an apartment: show everyone in your family where to find the emergency exit. Show them where the fire alarm is and explain when and how to use it. In a fire or other emergency, don't use the elevators. You'll be trapped in the elevator if the power goes out.
Learn about other community emergency plans
Your kids' school and your workplace might have their own emergency plans. Find out what they are and how they apply to you. You may be separated from your family and need to know how to get reunited. You can assist in educating your children about school plans, etc.
Avoid potential emergency situations
Heed weather warnings and avoid driving and other activities in hazardous weather conditions.