Emergency Preparedness Week: Do you have an escape plan?

Choose a meeting place for your family

Emergency Preparedness Week begins Sunday, May 2. As we do every year, we offer guidelines from the Simcoe County Emergency Management team to help keep you safe in emergency situations.

Severe weather, flooding, power outages.

They happen regularly in our region. Sometimes they pass quickly, sometimes they linger with catastrophic results. Are you prepared for them? Will you panic, or will you be able to weather whatever storm is thrown at you.

Plan your escape

You should always make a plan for your household members.

Emergencies can happen when you least expect them and you may have to leave your home suddenly.

Simcoe County’s Manager of 911 and Emergency Planning says you want to identify at least two exits from your home and decide on a meeting place in the event some of your family members are elsewhere at the time. “So that could be a neighbour’s house or a public building. As soon as you’re safe, you want to call 911 and identify your location and the nature of your emergency.”

And before you leave the house, grab your 72-hour emergency kit, in case you will be away from home for an extended period. The provisions and important paperwork, such as insurance policies and prescriptions, will come in handy.

Thunder and Lightning – What to do, what not to do

We’ve had a few rumbles of thunder and some hits of lightning this spring. There’s been nothing extreme, but those angry skies will visit at some point.

Simcoe County’s Manager of 911 and Emergency Planning, Colleen Simpson, says as much as you might want to, storm chasing is best left to the professionals, you want to be indoors. “Stay away from doors, windows and fireplaces because they can conduct electricity. Stay inside until 30 minutes after the storm passes because there may be lingering lightning. If you are outside, get into a safe building if you can and as quickly as possible. Do not take shelter under trees or structure structures.”

If you are caught out in the open, don’t lie flat on the ground as you would in a tornado, Simpson says the best thing to do is crouch down on the balls of your feet and curl up in a ball. You want the least amount of your body touching the ground because when the ground is wet it can conduct electricity from a lightning strike.

Tornadoes – What to do, what not to do

Tornado season is upon us.

We had a false alarm last week when Environment Canada mistakenly sent out a test warning.

But it served as a reminder to be prepared for when we get an actual warning.

“On average, there are about 12 tornadoes each year in Ontario. And most of those years we get at least one in our region,” says Colleen Simpson, Simcoe County’s Manager of 911 and Emergency Planning. “They have the potential to cause fatalities, injuries and extensive damage, and sometimes they can strike with little warning. If you do see a tornado or there’s a tornado warning, get inside a sturdy building, go to the basement or the lowest floor possible and take shelter in a room that doesn’t have any windows. If that’s not possible, go to a hallway or a sturdy doorway and get under a desk or a table.”

If you’re outside, Simpson recommends you lie flat, face down in a ditch or on the lowest ground possible, and cover the back of your head and neck for protection. Do not seek shelter near trees or under bridges.

Emergency Kits, for the home and the car

Could be a flood or a fire, a tree falling on your house, or a chemical spill that forces you to leave your home.

When it happens, the last thing you want to be doing is running around the house gathering the items you’ll need to get through at least 72 hours.

Emergency planners, Simcoe County’s Colleen Simpson among them, recommend you have an emergency kit ready and left where it can be grabbed quickly in an emergency.

“Water, four litres per person per day. Some non-perishable food, which is likely in a can, so a can opener, and a safe way to cook, either inside or outside of the home. A few other things, like flashlights, an AM/FM radio with spare batteries, money in small bills, and maybe some toys for the kids or some playing cards for everyone.”

A change of clothing, of course, and a portion of your prescription medications should also be in the kit.

Simpson also hoping you’ll keep an emergency kit in your car in the event you get stranded somewhere, “Water, maybe a couple of snacks. It’s a good idea to have some jumper cables, and an emergency blanket in case it’s cold outside. A backup charger for your cell phone because you want to be able to call for help. And wind up or battery-operated radio, in case you lose power in your car, so you can listen for updates on the situation.

Cyber Security

In the past year, we have been gripped by a lingering pandemic. People have been working from home. Our children have been learning from home. We’ve been hard-wired to technology like never before. It has been fertile ground for cyber crooks.

Colleen Simpson, Simcoe County’s Manager of 911 and Emergency Planning, noting cyber theft is on the rise, says we have to be extra vigilant to ensure our devices and our personal information is protected. “For all of your mobile and smart devices, computers, you want to use a pin, a personal identification number or a passphrase, to protect your device, one that others wouldn’t guess.”

In addition:

  • try to avoid joining unsecured or public Wi-Fi networks because you don’t know who else might be tapping into it
  • disable features you don’t use such as GPS or Bluetooth
  • don’t open files that you don’t recognize
  • maintain up-to-date software.
  • do not use the ‘remember me’ function on websites. It can make it easier for hackers to gain access to your accounts. You always want to type in your username and password when you log in.

Clik here for more Emergency Preparedness advice from the County of Simcoe.

banner image: City of Orillia