Where to Start

Where to Start

Identify the Risks

Floods, tornadoes, forest fires, severe rain, hail and snow storms, wildfire, and power failures are the most common disasters in Alberta as determined by the Canadian Disaster Database, the Natural Hazards of Canada map, and Emergency Management Alberta. Deliberate acts like terrorism also need to be considered. It may be helpful to prepare a list of risks you would most likely face, and think about how they might affect your family.

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Make Your Plan

Make a list of what to do at home, school or work if a disaster strikes. Divide up tasks so that every member of your household participates as much as possible. Write down the details and make sure everyone has a copy.

Your plan should include the following:

  • Where the exits are from your home and neighborhood
  • Meeting place to reunite with family or roommates
  • A designated person to pick up your children should you be unavailable
  • Close and out-of-town contact persons
  • Health information
  • A place for your pet to stay
  • The risks in your region
  • The location of your fire extinguisher, water valve, electrical box, gas valve, and floor drain

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Know the Safe Places to Be

Decide whether to take shelter in your home during different situations such as hurricanes or earthquakes. Practice taking cover in the safe places at least once a year. Repeat this kind of safety drill, practicing exactly where to go and what to do. It is important for everyone, but especially for children so they know what to expect and don’t forget the instructions over time.

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Agree on an Alternate Meeting Place and Shelter

Make sure each family member knows what to do at home, at school or at work, or if family members become separated or if it is impossible to get home. Decide where you will meet if you are separated during a disaster and choose a place, such as a friend’s house or hotel, where you can stay for a few days in case you are evacuated. When choosing your shelter, remember that bridges may be out and roads may be blocked. Don’t forget to plan for your pets. They may not be permitted in emergency shelters so find a pet-friendly hotel or friend’s home.

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Select an Out-of-Area Contact

Pick someone each member of the family can call or email in case of an emergency. Be sure to choose someone who lives far enough away that they won’t be affected by the same situation. This contact should ideally be a relative or close family friend who should agree to pass news on to other family members if you get separated and call the contact from different places. Each member of the household should memorize this contact’s phone number and address, and keep the information with them at all times. If you live alone, develop an emergency plan for yourself with links to friends and neighbors.

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Preparing Your Home

  • Go through your home with other household members and imagine what could happen to each part of it during a violent earthquake, hurricane or other disaster scenario
  • Teach everybody in the household how to turn off the water, electricity and gas. Clearly label the on-off positions for these utilities. If your home is equipped with natural gas, tie or tape the appropriate wrench on the pipe to turn off the gas
  • Make an inventory of the valuable things you own and keep a video or photographs of them for insurance purposes. Ensure that these and other important documents (wills, powers of attorney, insurance policies, stocks and bonds, family records, passports, Social Insurance cards, health care cards, credit card and account numbers, important telephone numbers) are stored safely in a waterproof area or box
  • Always keep a class ABC fire extinguisher handy and make sure each member of your family knows how to use it. If you cannot extinguish a small fire with a portable fire extinguisher, or if the smoke becomes hazardous, leave the area. Close the door to contain the fire. Warn others of the danger, call 9-1-1 and wait outside for firefighters to arrive

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Taking Shelter

If you are advised by local authorities to shelter-in-place, you must remain inside your home or office and protect yourself there. The following steps to maximize your protection are recommended:

  • Close and lock all windows and exterior doors
  • Turn off all fans, heating, and air-conditioning systems
  • Close the fireplace damper
  • Get your emergency kit and ensure the radio is working
  • Go to an interior room that is above ground level, and without windows, if possible
  • Using duct or other wide tape, seal all cracks around the door and any vents into the room
  • Continue to monitor the radio and television until you are told it is safe or you are advised to evacuate

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Evacuating Safely

If local authorities ask you to leave your home, it is because there is good reason to request this and you should heed their advice. Listen to your radio or television and follow the instructions of your local emergency officials.

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and sturdy shoes so you can be protected as much as possible
  • Take your emergency kit and cellular telephone. Take small valuables and papers, but travel light
  • Lock your home and don’t forget the key
  • Go to the designated meeting place in your family plan
  • Use travel routes specified by local authorities. Don’t use shortcuts because certain areas may be dangerous or impassable.
  • If you go to an evacuation centre, sign in with the registration desk so you can be contacted and reunited with your family and loved ones
  • Get in touch with your out-of-area emergency contact person and let them know what has happened, that you are safe, and how to contact you. Alert them to any separated family members
  • Listen to local, provincial or territorial authorities for the most accurate information about what is happening. Stay tuned to local radio and television and follow their instructions
  • If you have time, take your pets with you. If they are not permitted in public shelters, follow your plan to go a friend’s home or pet-friendly hotel
  • Leave a note saying where you are going. Register at any local registration inquiry centre so you can be contacted when it is safe to return home
  • If instructed to do so, turn off water, electricity, and gas before leaving

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Further Information

Further information may be obtained from:

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