Emergency Preparedness Week: What’s your plan?

Photo: A bent hydro pylon following the May 2022 derocho storm. (Via Hydro Ottawa)

This week (May 7–13) is emergency preparedness week in Ottawa. An emergency can strike at any time, and Ottawa has certainly had its fair share of incidents over the years (derocho, tornado, icestorm…) which highlight the importance of being ready.

Having a plan makes all the difference

“It is important to ensure that the entire family is prepared and informed in the event of a disaster or emergency. You may not always be together when these events take place and should have plans for making sure you are able to contact and find one another,” says the Canadian Red Cross' website. The relief org provides a template (opens a pdf) you can use to get everyone on the same page. There are also guides on redcross.ca that discuss the specific types of emergencies to prepare for, such as fires, storms, power outages and more.

Other tips via the Red Cross:

  • Determine the best ways to evacuate your home in case of an emergency such as a home fire.

  • Make sure adults and older children know where fire extinguishers, water, electric and gas utilities are located.

  • Make sure everyone in the house knows the location of your emergency kit

  • Establish a safe place for your family to meet outside your home and outside your neighbourhood.

  • Include a plan for evacuating your pets.

  • Practice your evacuation plan frequently.

  • If you can't evacuate your home, prepare to be self-sufficient in your home for at least three days (or seven to 10 days in a health emergency).

  • If a member of your family has special needs that would require extra assistance, include those details into your family emergency plan and emergency kit.

  • Know the plans for your workplace, school, community centre, etc. in the event a disaster happens when you are not at home.

  • Have an out-of-town emergency contact for everyone in your household to contact. This way you have a designated person who is unlikely to be affected by local emergencies.

Important contacts:

  • 9-1-1: For life-threatening emergencies

  • 2-1-1: For information on provincial government and local community-based health and social services including food

  • 3-1-1: For City of Ottawa services such as garbage collection, by-laws, forestry services and childcare services

Power outages

  • 613-738-0188: For inquiries to Hydro Ottawa about power outages

  • 1-800-434-1235: For inquiries to Hydro One about power outages

Create a 72-hour emergency kit

In an emergency, basic utilities such as water supply and electricity may be disrupted. According to the City of Ottawa, your emergency kit should have enough supplies to keep you self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.

Things to include:

  • Two litres of drinking water per person per day

  • Battery-operated or crank radio

  • Power banks for wireless charging

  • Flashlights and extra batteries

  • Medication

  • Non-perishable, ready-to-eat canned foods and a manual can opener (note: be sure to rotate the food in your emergency kit to keep them fresh)

  • Pet food for our family members from the animal world

  • Blankets or sleeping bags

  • Copies of important documents in a waterproof and portable container (e.g., insurance cards, birth certificates, passports, etc.)

  • Clothing and footwear (one change per person; more for children)

  • Toilet paper and other personal hygiene supplies

  • First aid kit

More info