Make a plan

Suburbs

Emergencies happen when we don't expect them. Suddenly, you need to think about your kids at school or elderly parents across town. The best way to help ensure your family's safety is to have an emergency plan which will save time and make real emergency situations less stressful. 

You can't predict an emergency, but you can prepare for one. Visit the Emergency Management Ontario website to create an emergency preparedness action plan online.

What should your plan include?
In an emergency, your family may not be together, or you may be asked to evacuate your home. Thinking about what you would do in different situations and preparing a plan with every member of your family is a big step to being prepared. Your Action Plan should include a communications plan, evacuation plan, evacuation route and consider diverse groups.

A family communications plan: 
During an emergency phone lines may be damaged and networks could be down so you might not be able to make calls locally. It may be easier to reach someone using text messaging, social media or by making a long-distance call. Discuss with your family the ways you will try and get in touch with each other. Identify one or two out-of-town contacts you and your loved ones can call or text to connect, and share information. Make sure they live far enough away so they will not likely be affected by the same emergency.

Make sure everyone in your family, as well as your two key contacts, know how to use text messaging. During emergencies, these messages may often get through even when phone calls don't. Always keep your communications devices (cellphone, laptop, iPad) fully charged.

Evacuation plan: 
In case you are asked to evacuate your home, or neighbourhood, select two safe locations you could go to. One should be nearby like a local library or community centre. The other one should be farther away, outside your neighbourhood, in case the emergency affects a large area.

Plan how you would travel to the safe locations and if you have pets think of someone who could take them if you have to leave your home. Often, only service animals are allowed at reception centres. 
Evacuation route: 
Make sure everyone in your family knows how to safely exit your home by a main exit and an alternate one like the garage or backdoor. If you have mobility issues or a disability, talk to your building manager or neighbours to make special arrangements. 
Diverse Groups: 
No two households are the same. When you are building your family emergency plan, be mindful of everyone in your household. Evaluating the needs of diverse groups like seniors, people with disabilities, children and pets can help you better prepare for any situation. Visit the Ministry of Ontario's website for information and resources on how to build an inclusive family emergency plan.

Review safety in your home:

 Emergency numbers
Keep a list of emergency numbers and make sure all members of your family know where it is. Teach children when and how to dial 9-1-1 and other key contacts they may need to call. Here are some numbers you should consider having on the list:
  • 9-1-1
  • Police 
  • Fire
  • Family doctor
  • Telehealth
  • Poison control
  • Family and friends who can lend support in a crisis
  • Insurance contact
  • Utility companies
Consider fire and other safety needs
Follow general household safety rules for smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers. More information on how many to have, where to place them, how often to check and replace them can be obtained from your local fire department.
Review utility shut-off procedures
Every adult in your family, as well as older children, should know how to turn off main utilities--water, electricity, and gas. In certain emergencies, authorities will ask you to turn these off for safety reasons. Write out instructions and post them somewhere visible. Everyone should also know where the floor drain is located in case there is a flood and make sure it's not clogged.
Copies of important documents
Make copies of important documents including: insurance, main identification documents like a driver's license and passport, birth and marriage certificates, and wills. Keep your plan and these documents in a safe place. Consider sharing copies with out-of-town family members or keep a set in a safety deposit box.

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