During an Emergency









During an emergency


During an emergency, you may not have time to make alternative plans. You may also not be aware of who to listen to for instructions. That’s why it is important to know who to call and what to do under different circumstances.


When to call 9-1-1

Report a fire

Report a crime

Save a life

You are unsure about imminent safety

When in doubt – call!


In case of a major emergency

  • Follow your emergency plan
  • Get your emergency kit
  • Make sure you are safe before assisting others.
  • Listen to the radio or television for information from local officials and follow their instructions.
  • Stay put until all is safe or until you are ordered to evacuate.




You may be instructed to “shelter-in-place” if chemical, biological or radiological contaminants are released into the environment. This means you must remain inside your home or office and protect yourself there. The following steps will help maximize your protection:

    • Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
    • Turn off all fans, heating and air-conditioning systems to avoid drawing in air from the outside.
    • Close the fireplace damper.
    • Get your emergency kit and make sure the radio is working.
    • Go to an interior room that’s above ground level (if possible, one without windows). In the case of a chemical threat, an above-ground location is preferable because some chemicals are heavier than air and may seep into basements even if the windows are closed.
    • Using duct or other wide tape, seal all cracks around the door and any vents into the room.
    • Continue to monitor your radio or television until you are told all is safe or are advised to evacuate.


Severe Storms

During severe storms

  • If possible, take shelter in a building and stay indoors.
  • Monitor radio, television and online for weather warnings and instructions from authorities.
  • If you have time, secure items that might be blown around or torn loose, such as lawn furniture.
  • Stay away from windows, doors, and fireplaces.
  • If you are driving, stop your car away from trees or power lines.


If you are inside:

  • Have your emergency kit ready.
  • If you have time, string a rope between your house and any outbuildings you may have to go to during the storm.

If you must go outside:

  • Be aware that you can become quickly disoriented and may get frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Wear a hooded jacket, hat, mittens and warm footwear.
  • Do not try to walk to another building in low visibility without something to guide you.
  • If you must travel, do so in daylight and let someone know your plans.

If your vehicle becomes stuck:

  • Stay in your vehicle. Open the window slightly for fresh air. Run the engine for 10 minutes every half hour unless the exhaust pipe is blocked.
  • To keep warm, exercise your hands and feet periodically.
  • If shoveling, avoid overexerting yourself.  Overexertion in the bitter cold can cause death as a result of a heart attack or hypothermia from sweating.
  • Keep a lookout for traffic or searchers.

Ice Storms

If you are inside:

  • Stay indoors unless you are told to evacuate.

If you must go outside:

  • Pay attention to high branches or wires that could break and fall.
  • Stay well away from power lines, as hanging wires may be charged (live).
  • Avoid driving. Wait several hours after freezing rain ends to allow for road maintenance.


If you are inside:

  • Stay in a safe place; hurricane winds can quickly change in opposite direction or grow stronger.
  • Avoid using a corded phone and stay away from items that conduct electricity.
  • If you live on the coast or in a low-lying area near the coast, move inland and to higher ground.

If you are outside:

  • Do not go to the shore to watch the storm.
  • If you are on the water, head for shore immediately.

Thunder and Lightening Storms

If you are inside:

  • Unplug radios, TVs, and appliances. Use a battery-operated or wind-up radio to listen for weather warnings and instructions from authorities.
  • Avoid using a corded phone and stay away from items that conduct electricity.
  • If there is hail, stay away from windows, glass doors, and skylights.

If you are outside:

  • If caught in the open, crouch in the “leap frog” position to minimize ground contact. Do not go under a tree.
  • If you are driving, stop your vehicle away from trees or power lines.
  • If you are on the water, head for the shore immediately.

Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear (CBRN) Incident

CBRN substances are a health risk if they are inhaled, ingested or come into contact with skin.

In all cases, consider the following:

  • Time: minimize exposure to a CBRN substance
  • Distance: remain as far away as possible
  • Shielding: protect yourself from the substance

If you are in an enclosed, affected area:

  • Cover exposed skin and protect your airways (e.g. by using a damp cloth) and minimize contact with the substance.
  • Turn off or move away from internal air conditioning or heating vents.
  • Immediately contact emergency services.
  • If you experience symptoms of exposure to CBRN substances (e.g. dizziness, perspiration, vomiting, change in breathing, heart rate, or skin tone), seek immediate medical attention.

If you are in an open, affected area:

  • Follow the same steps as for an enclosed area.
  • Move away from the release site as quickly as possible.

If you are in your vehicle:

  • Keep vehicle vents and windows closed.
  • Do not use vehicle heating or air conditioning.
  • Drive away from the release site.

In all situations, monitor radio, television or online for information from authorities. They will tell you whether you need to shelter-in-place or evacuate.


If you are told to shelter-in-place due to a CBRN incident:

  • Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
  • Turn off all fans, heating and A/C systems to avoid drawing in outside air.
  • Get your emergency kit.
  • Go to an interior room without windows above ground level.
  • Use duct tape or wet cloths to seal cracks around doors and vents.
  • Limit phone calls to urgent messages only.


If you are inside:

  • As soon as you feel shaking, DROP down and crawl under furniture. COVER your head/neck. HOLD ONto the object you are under to stay covered.
  • Stay away from windows and shelves with heavy objects.
  • If you can’t go under something strong, crouch or flatten yourself against an interior wall.
  • If you are in a wheelchair: lock the wheels and protect the back of your head and neck.
  • If you are in bed: stay there and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are below a heavy object that could fall on you. In that case, move to the nearest safe area.
  • If you are in a building: stay inside.
  • If you are in an elevator: hit the button for every floor and get out as soon as you can.

If you are outside:

  • Stay away from power lines, buildings and the shore.
  • If you are in a vehicle: pull over and stay inside. Place a HELP sign in your window if you need assistance.

When the shaking stops:

  • Be prepared for aftershocks.
  • Stay calm.  Help others if you are able.
  • Place a HELP sign in your window if you need assistance and call 9-1-1.
  • Do not light matches or turn on light switches. Any flame or spark can cause an explosion if there are gas leaks.
  • Exit your home and check for damage. If you suspect the structure is unsafe, or there is a gas leak, evacuate your home.
  • If you feel it is safe to stay where you are, monitor radio, television and online for weather warnings and instructions from authorities.
  • If tap water is available, fill bathtub or containers in case supply gets cut off.


If flooding is imminent:

  • Turn off basement furnace and main gas valves. Unplug appliances and electronics.
  • Shut off electricity only if flooding has not yet begun and area around electrical panel is dry.
  • Move furniture and important belongings above ground level.
  • Plug basement sewer drains and shut off toilet connections.

If flooding has already begun:

  • If you have not already shut off electricity, do not attempt to do so once water has entered your home.
  • Do not enter a flooded basement that may contain live wires or appliances.

After a flood:

  • Do not return home until authorities advise it is safe.
  • If the main power switch was not turned off prior to flooding, do not re-enter your home until a qualified electrician has determined it is safe.
  • Use extreme caution when returning to your home after a flood.

Power Outages

  • Check if the power outage is limited to your home. If your neighbours have power, check your circuit breakers.
  • If your neighbours’ power is also out, contact your electrical supply company.
  • Turn off all tools, appliances, electronics, and all but one light inside and outside.
  • Use your thermostat to turn off heating or air conditioning.
  • Avoid opening your freezer or fridge.
  • Do not use barbeques, camping heating equipment, or home generators indoors. They can produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
  • Monitor a crank or battery-powered radio and online for weather warnings and instructions from authorities.
  • If possible, use a battery or crank-powered light source.  If you must use candles, use proper candle holders. Never leave lit candles unattended. Always extinguish candles before going to bed.

When the power returns:

  • In cold weather, turn heating back on first, then wait 10 minutes before reconnecting everything else.
  • Check food supplies. If a freezer door has been kept closed, food should stay frozen for 24-36 hours.Food contaminated with bacteria does not necessarily smell or look spoiled. When in doubt, throw it out.


  • Do not go near the shore to watch a tsunami. Move inland to higher ground. If you can’t get to higher ground, stay inside on the landward side of the building, away from windows.
  • If you are in a safe place when a tsunami hits, stay put.

After a tsunami hits:

  • You may encounter flood waters. Before going anywhere, pay attention to radio, television or online for information or evacuation instructions.
  • Be aware that you may get hypothermia from being in cold water.


  • Be prepared to evacuate at any time. If told to evacuate, take your emergency kit with you.
  • Monitor radio, television or online for up-to-date information on the fire, possible road closures and instructions from authorities.

If you have time:

  • Close all windows and doors.
  • Move combustible materials such as light curtains and furniture away from windows.
  • Turn onlights in the house, porch, garage and yard to aid visibility.
  • Turn off propane or natural gas.
  • Move all combustibles outside away from the house, including firewood, propane barbecues and lawn furniture.
  • Cover vents, windows, and other openings of the house with duct tape and/or precut pieces of plywood.
  • Park your vehicle positioned forward out of the driveway. Keepwindows closed and pack valuables and your emergency kit in the vehicle.