Preparing for emergencies and natural disasters

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by Brandon Mayer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Some readers may have seen a new advertising campaign, funded by the Government of Canada, encouraging Canadians to be prepared in case of an emergency. The advertisements – which have been observed on streaming services such as CBC Gem, but may work their way into other platforms as well – direct viewers to a government website aimed at teaching emergency preparedness. The website is branded as “Get Prepared”, and has preparedness tips for a very wide range of emergencies, including natural disasters, bomb threats, chemical releases, nuclear emergencies, pandemic influenza, and suspicious packages.

Regional information for Ontario specifically lists the following risks and hazards monitored by Emergency Management Ontario: earthquakes, floods, chemical releases, pandemic influenza, power outages, tornadoes, and wildfires. For other potential emergencies, such as severe hot or cold weather, terrorism, and transportation accidents, the website recommends speaking directly with the Community Emergency Management Coordinator appointed by the local municipal office. According to North Grenville’s Emergency Management Plan, the Municipality relies on the Coordinator for the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville. The Township of North Dundas website states that the Township has a designated Coordinator, although it is unclear if this individual is shared with other municipalities. In both cases, the identity of the Coordinator is not stated.

It is unclear what prompted the Government of Canada to create the Get Prepared website, but it does contain a wealth of detailed information. The advice is broken down into three general categories. One is general information about hazards and emergencies. Second is information on how to develop a household emergency plan, including information such as safe exits from one’s home and neighborhood, establishing emergency contact people, and knowing the locations of critical features in one’s home, such as the gas shut off valve. Third is how to make – or where to buy – an emergency supply kit, including what items make up such a kit.

As with tasks such as getting life insurance or creating a will, getting prepared for an emergency is easy to put off. After all, will something happen tomorrow? Not likely. Is it bad to wait a week? Probably not. But being prepared to react quickly in an emergency is important, and is something that every Canadian should consider. Even the recent windstorm that knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of Ontarians, including many locally, shows how unexpected situations can arise. What may be no big deal to some, can be devastating for others. For example, a person who relies on a private well for drinking water, and who lives outside of walking range to the nearest store, will be without water during a power outage. Keeping a backup supply of water fit to last at least 3 days could therefore potentially save such a person’s life if unexpected bad weather hits. It is always better to be safe, than sorry. To learn more about preparing for emergencies and disasters, visit https://www.getprepared.gc.ca.

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