Disasters and emergencies often cause confusion and distress. An emergency plan can help you cope with the stress of these situations.
To help you get your plan started, Public Safety Canada has designed a web page that walks you through the creation of your own unique emergency plan that you can print and store with your emergency supplies.
Know the risks
It is important to know the hazards in your community so you can make a plan to prepare for them. Use the following questions to get the conversation started with the people around you.
- What are the hazards in your community?
- What risk do these hazards pose to you and your loved ones?
- What are your responsibilities during an emergency?
- What do you do if authorities direct you to shelter in place?
- What do you do if authorities declare an evacuation order?
Contact your local emergency management office to get more information on the hazards near you.
Being financially prepared is about more than just having money in the bank. Here are a few ideas to help you build financial resilience.
- Ensure you have adequate insurance and keep a detailed list of all property including photographs.
- Keep cash on hand as ATM/debit machines may be unavailable.
- If possible, create an emergency savings account to cover expenses during an emergency. Even $5 a month will add up over time.
- Keep receipts for all expenses incurred during an emergency or disaster.
- Understanding insurable versus non-insurable disaster financial assistance will ensure your assets are adequately insured.
- Know the 7 steps for making a home insurance claim. For more information, see Claims Management.
Gather supplies and build a kit
There are many ways you and your household can become more prepared. You can build emergency kits that you can grab and go, and you can make sure you have enough supplies at home in case you have to take shelter.
In either case, your goal will be to have enough supplies to keep you and your loved ones safe, warm and comfortable.
- Keep enough supplies in your home to last 7 to 14 days (for example, canned food, water, cleaning supplies).
- Build an emergency kit you can easily take with you during an evacuation.
- Keep emergency supplies in your vehicle.
- Consider supplies for infants, children and pets.
- Consider any medical supplies your household needs.
If money or time is an issue, create a list of things you cannot live without. Critical thinking during a time of stress is challenging. Having a list that you follow to quickly grab and go will help. What supplies would you gather?
Communicating during emergencies
It is possible that you and your loved ones may not be together when an emergency occurs. Talking gets everyone on the same page and helps identify different needs.
Creating emergency contact cards for each member of your household is one way to increase your chances of staying connected when an emergency occurs. Keep emergency numbers in your home (hard copy) and on your cellphone (digital) – include work and cellphone numbers.
- Read Communicating during an emergency for more information.
- Use the Emergency contact card as a template for your emergency contact list.
- If you or people important to you use social media, remember some sites offer a “checked safe” feature when a disaster occurs in their area.
Designating an out-of-town emergency contact is another way to keep connected. If you are unable to reach each other, use your contact as a central check point. This contact can provide updates on loved ones status, location and help you to reconnect.
Start a conversation
Why is starting a conversation so important?
- Being prepared is a team effort. Talk about your emergency plan with others. Talking often leads to action and can be the first step to making a plan.
- Use current events to spark the conversation and ask "what would you do if that happened to you?"
Make community connections
A connected community is a more resilient community. Neighbours are often the first to lend a hand and provide support during an emergency. When you know your neighbours before an unexpected situation occurs, it is easier to ask for help when you need it and to offer help when you know others need help most.
Getting to know the members of your community is not always easy. Here are a few suggestions on how you can expand your network.
- Start small and work your way from there. Next time you see a neighbour greet them with a friendly wave and say hello.
- Volunteer for an activity you like or service you care about.
- Create a community contact list. This can help you identify people who may need help and those who can offer help.
- Check with your community to find programs you can join. You can also call 211 for community services and supports.
- Join or create a neighbourhood social media page or group. If you decide to create one, consider letting your neighbours know about the page by dropping off an 'invite' in their mailbox.
- Create a buddy system with someone for routine support. You can check on each other's pets, keep plants watered while you are away and help one another at a time of need.
Check out this video to learn more about building community connections.
Knowledge helps us better prepare for emergencies, disasters and life’s inconveniences. When we know what is happening we can make more informed and timely decisions during times of stress.
- Download the Alberta Emergency Alert (AEA) app – Alberta issues alerts to provide critical information and what action you need to take to stay safe. Apps like AEA, Wildfire, and WeatherCAN can help keep you safe.
- Sign up for local, provincial and federal alerts through your mobile phone.
- Only use trusted information sources such as your community's social media pages, official websites, television and radio.
- If possible, keep a battery-powered or crank radio on hand in case of a power outage.
Disabilities and special needs
Preparedness is different for everyone. Think about your unique needs and make sure you work them into your plan.
Establish a trusted personal support network of people who understand your needs including:
- health-care providers
- co-workers and neighbours who understand how to help
Write down details about:
- accommodation needs such as mobility
- insurance information
- emergency contacts
- medical history including:
- recent vaccinations
- mobility needs
Keep a copy of this information with your emergency supplies and give a copy to your personal support network.
Talk to your doctor about preparing a grab-and-go bag, if possible, with a 2-week supply of medication and medical supplies. Include prescriptions and medical documents. Remember that pharmacies could close for an extended time, even after the emergency is over. You will also want to have copies of personal identification stored to avoid challenges filling prescriptions.
Keep in mind, not all temporary accommodations will provide access to refrigerators and additional steps may need to be taken if your medications require a cool environment.
For more information, visit Emergency Preparedness Guide for People with Disabilities/Special Needs.
Be mindful when talking about emergencies with children. Remind them that if an emergency happens, someone will be there to help. Let them know there are people they can count on such as:
- emergency workers
Talk to your children about your emergency contact list, including who each contact is. Keep a copy of the list with them in their school backpacks.
Become familiar with your children’s school or daycare emergency policies.
- How will they contact families during an emergency?
- What type of authorization is required for the school or daycare to release your children to a designated person if you cannot pick them up.
- Does your children’s school or daycare have up-to-date contact information for parents, caregivers and designated persons?
Read Helping children during emergencies for more information.
If you rely on others for assistance or provide care and services for a senior, knowing how to prepare for emergencies, disasters and disruptions is critical as seniors can be especially vulnerable to these types of situations. Ensure supports are in place before an emergency to reduce the impact and recovery time to you and those you care for.
The Emergency preparedness toolkit for seniors is an online tool that can help guide the development of an emergency plan for seniors and build resilience to better navigate emergencies, disasters and unexpected situations when they occur.
Talk to your employer to learn about the emergency response plans within your workplace and about your role in the event of an emergency.
It is a good idea to keep a few items on hand such as water, snacks (granola, energy bars or dried fruit), and a change of clothes including comfortable walking shoes.
In case of an evacuation, remember that pets are not allowed in all public shelters or hotels. Take steps to identify pet-friendly hotels or pet boarding facilities in and out of your local area. Be prepared to leave your pets with a relative or friend and have your pets’ kit ready to ensure their needs can be met.
Visit Pet preparedness for more information and a printable emergency kit checklist for pets.
A well thought-out plan can help you respond effectively, protect your animals and property and help you cope with the stress of the emergency or disaster.
- Set a meeting place or muster point in case an evacuation is ordered. Make sure everyone knows the location(s) and ensure that there is feed, water and shelter for any animals you can evacuate. Consider seasonal weather impacts.
- Create safe transportation methods. If possible, practice loading and transporting your animals.
- Create an emergency contact list. Include neighbours, animal handlers/transporters, veterinarians and feed suppliers. Post in each building.
- Work with your local emergency management office to learn what type of help will be available.
Visit Farm animals and livestock preparedness for information about how to prepare your farm animals for an emergency.
The Rural Emergency Plan is an online tool that can help you prepare your ranch, farm or acreage for an emergency.