Preparing for Emergencies

The Emergency Management Office supports municipalities in preparing for emergencies, but each of us has an individual responsibility to prepare ourselves and our families for emergencies.

For all emergencies, you need to Make a plan and have an emergency kit ready in a portable container so you can take with you in an evacuation.

It's also a good idea to charge your devices, have spare chargers ready, and have at least one battery-operated or crank radio so you can listen to updates and watch for local alerts on social media (@nsemo on Twitter).

Hurricanes and tropical storms

Hurricane season runs from June through November, with peak activity taking place in September. These powerful storms bring high winds and heavy rains which can cause storm surge on the coast, flash floods, and damage to homes.

To prepare your home, secure loose objects around your property such as furniture, your BBQ, and any decorations. Trim and remove any damaged trees or limbs and secure loose rain gutters and downspouts. If a very strong storm is predicted, you may want to cover windows with plywood.

Six hours before the storm, turn your fridge and freezer to their coldest settings and keep them closed as much as possible.

While the storm is happening, don't go near coastal areas, riverbanks or flooded areas as they quickly turn dangerous - even deadly. Frequently monitor television, radio, and social media for updates. Stay away from windows.

Don't use candles or hurricane lamps, which can cause fires. Only use battery-powered lights if the power goes out. Ensure your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly if you are using a fireplace, wood stove, or pellet stove for heat.

Floods

You can help reduce flood damage by putting caulking around basement windows and at the base of ground-level doors. Move photos and valuables from the basement and to a higher level and raise large appliances off the floor. Secure furnaces, water heaters or oil tanks so they won't tip over in a flood. Keep your basement floor drains clear so water has somewhere to go, and ensure the sump pump is working properly.

Clean eavestroughs and ensure they are in good condition, and ensure that downspouts from eavestroughs extend at least 2 metres from basement walls.

If your home does flood, remember that flood waters can contain sewage, oil, and bacteria that will make you and your family sick. Contact with live wires can also cause serious injuries.

  • If flooding starts, turn off the power to the flooded area immediately. If power was not turned off and you evacuated, seek the help from a certified electrician before entering your home.
  • When cleaning up flooded areas, wear rubber gloves, rubber boots, goggles and coveralls. You may also need a mask to avoid breathing in contaminated air. Keep children and pets out of the flooded area and open windows open for fresh air.
  • All surfaces need to be cleaned, disinfected with chlorinated lime solution or a bleach/water mixture, and allowed to thoroughly dry. It is important to remove wet materials within 48 hours to reduce the risk of mould growth. Check with restoration professionals for information on which materials can be salvaged and what should be thrown away.
  • Any food that comes into contact with flood waters should be thrown out and all dishes should be sanitized with bleach.
  • If you use a well for your drinking water, have the water tested before you drink it again.

Blizzards and severe winter storms

Blizzards are winter storms with winds higher than 40 km/h causing blowing or drifting snow that is are expected to reduce visibility for at least four hours.

Travel can become treacherous very quickly during blizzards, so stay off the roads if you can. If you must travel, fill the gas tank and take a winter car emergency kit with food, water, blankets, sand, and a shovel.

The safest place to be is inside, with the heat turned up, monitoring radio, television, and social media for updates. Don't forget to bring your pets inside too!

Power outages

Plan ahead for power outages by adding an alternate heat source to your home. Purchase a wind-up or battery-powered radio and charge your electronic devices so you can monitor information from local officials.

Turn off your appliances during the outage, but leave one light on inside and outside so you and power crews will know when the power is restored.

Never use barbecues, generators, or camping equipment indoors, even in your garage.

Be sure to discard unsafe food.