Any time of year, extreme conditions may trigger the need to evacuate areas. Here are some tips to help prepare in the event to evacuate happens to you.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Emergency Preparedness via HRFE (Checklist)
If an emergency happens in your community, it may take emergency workers some time to get to you. You should be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for a minimum of 72 hours.
By taking a few simple steps today, you can become better prepared to face a range of emergencies – anytime, anywhere.
STEP 1: KNOW THE RISKS
Although the consequences of various emergency situations can be similar, knowing the risks in your region can help you better prepare.
The most common emergency situations in our region are: winter storms, gas leaks, floods, forest fires, tropical storms/ hurricanes.
In addition to natural disasters, there are other types of risks, such as power outages and industrial or transportation accidents.
*In addition to having a 72-hour emergency kit for your family, you should also prepare one for your pet. Preparing in advance will increase the likelihood that your animals remain safe and healthy during an emergency.
STEP 2: MAKE A PLAN
Every household needs an emergency plan. It will help you and your family know what to do in case of an emergency.
Your family may not be together when an emergency occurs. Plan how to meet or how to contact one another, and discuss what you would do in different situations.
When making your home emergency plan, you will need to think about the following:
- Safe exits from home and neighbourhood
- Meeting places to reunite with family or roommates
- Designated person to pick up children should you be unavailable
- Contact persons close-by and out-of-town
- Special health needs
- Place for your pet to stay
- Risks in your region
- Location of your fire extinguisher, water valve, electrical box, gas valve and floor drain
*Photocopy your plan and keep it in your car and/ or at work.
STEP 3: GET AN EMERGENCY KIT
In an emergency you will need some basic supplies. You may need to get by without power or tap water.
Be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. Make sure your kit is easy to carry and everyone in the household knows where it is. Keep it in a backpack, duffle bag or suitcase with wheels, in an easy-to-reach, accessible place, such as your front-hall closet.
Basic household emergency kit
- Drinking water – at least two litres per person per day and one litre per pet per day
- Food that won’t spoil, such as canned food, energy bars and dried foods (replace food and water once a year)
- Manual can opener and bottle opener
- Wind-up or battery-powered flashlight and radio (and extra batteries)
- First aid kit
- Extra keys to your car and house
- Cash in smaller bills, such as $10 bills and change for payphones
- A copy of your emergency plan and contact information
- Special items such as prescription medication, infant formula, equipment for people with disabilities or food, water and medication for your pets or service animal (personalize your kit according to your needs)
*Keep a corded phone in your home, as most cordless phones will not work during a power outage.
Recommended additional items for your kit:
- Two additional litres of water per person per day for cooking and cleaning
- Glow Sticks (candles are discouraged)
- Change of clothing and footwear for each household member
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each household member
- Hand sanitizer
- Disposable cutlery and dishes
- Garbage bags
- Toilet paper
- Household chlorine bleach or water purifying tablets
- Basic tools (hammer, pliers, wrench, screwdrivers, work gloves, dust mask, pocket knife)
- Copies of important documents, list of prescriptions, recent photos of family members
- Small fuel operated stove and fuel (follow manufacturer’s directions and store properly)
- A whistle (in case you need to attract attention)
- Extra pair of glasses
- Duct tape (to tape up windows, doors, air vents, etc.)
- Playing cards, small games and books
- Pet supplies such as food, litter, toys and proper documentation (e.g. licenses, immunization records)
Car emergency kit
- Ice scraper and brush
- Sand or cat litter (non-clumping kind)
- Tow chain and booster cables and antifreeze
- Warning lights or flares
- Flashlight and batteries
- Glow sticks
- Extra clothing and footwear
- Emergency food pack
- Axe or hatchet
- First aid kit
- Snack food
- Bottled water
- For winter—hat, winter coat, and boots
*Check your kits once a year to ensure contents are up to date. Re-stock as needed.
Source: Nova Scotia Government / EMO / HRFE