Emergency Preparedness Week: May 5 to 11

It’s 5:25 p.m. on a Thursday. You’ve just arrived home from work after picking up your kids from childcare. You’re preparing dinner when an Alberta Emergency Alert sounds over the radio.

“This is an Alberta Emergency Alert. Environment Canada has issued a Tornado Alert. This alert is in effect for: Leduc County. At 5:23 p.m., a tornado was spotted five kilometres north of Thorsby, moving northeast at 40 kilometres per hour.”

You live in the area and follow the instructions provided in the alert. After 24 minutes, you are relieved to get notification on your cellphone, through the Alert Ready system, saying the tornado alert has been cancelled.

The Alert Ready system is a national notification system that automatically sends life-saving emergency alerts to most cell phones and wireless devices, with no sign-up required. A test alert will be sent during Emergency Preparedness Week on May 8 at 1:55 p.m. Learn more at alertready.ca.

From media reports, you learn there are no reported injuries. You log on to Facebook and see your newsfeed filled with images and stories of the tornado and resulting damage posted by neighbours and local media. There is property damage, the power is out, phone lines are down, roads are blocked from debris and essential services are disrupted in some areas.

Local authorities, through the media, are asking residents to avoid the area and stay home, if it is safe to do so, so authorities can focus their efforts on the most critical needs in the community.

This is a wake-up call for you and your family. While this emergency was short, and your family and property were unharmed, you realize the situation could be different next time and you’re not sure you’re prepared.

Be Emergency Ready

Emergency Preparedness Week is an opportunity to encourage Canadians to take concrete actions to be better prepared to protect themselves and their families during emergencies.

Learn more about preparing for an emergency, including identifying possible emergencies, tips on building a plan and a list of items to include in an emergency kit.

Know the risks

Knowing the potential emergencies you could face – including floods, severe storms, wildfires and power outages – allows you and your family to plan your response.

Identifying responses unique to each emergency makes it easier to act quickly at a time when seconds matter.

Make a plan

Every household needs an emergency plan. These plans include important information to help guide you through an emergency.

Emergency plans include contact information – including for family members, schools or childcare, emergency contacts, insurance and emergency services – and instructions for what to do in an emergency with special notes regarding children, health needs and pets.

Families aren’t always together when an emergency happens; each member should have a copy of the emergency plan, so everyone knows what to do.

Build a kit

In the event of a major emergency or disaster, normal emergency services are often interrupted. You may need to rely on your own personal emergency preparedness to get you through at least the first 72 hours.

A 72-hour emergency kit will help ensure you have all essential items on hand, such as:

  • non-perishable food
  • water
  • a first-aid kit
  • batteries
  • candles
  • matches and/or lighters
  • copies of important documents
  • prescription medication

Update your kit(s) every six months; make preparedness a habit by reassessing your kit(s) when changing the clocks at daylight savings time.