Emergency situations can leave you and your family without heat, water, power, and other utilities, including communication.

They can also force you to leave your home. This post will go over some tips to help you prepare for an emergency, and what to do should the emergency occur 
For all emergencies:

Download the Alberta Emergency Alert app for critical, life-saving alerts, but also be aware of where your town or municipality will post information and updates, should an emergency threaten.  

  • Develop and practice a preparedness plan and build an emergency kit.  
  • Ensure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning and have backup battery power.  
  • Keep your vehicle fuel tank full.  

1. Power / Utility Outage

Before an Outage: 
  • Have a back up plan for evacuating if you rely on power to do so (i.e. apartment building).  
  • Have back up power, such as a generator. Be aware of critical devices you will still need should you lose power (i.e. medical devices).   
  • Have extra blankets and clothes on hand.  
During an Outage:
  • Inform the utility company of the outage. If a power outage, leave one light on inside and one outside so you know when the power has been restored. 
  • Use a wood burning fireplace if possible. Never run a generator, camp stove, or barbeque inside. Never use gas stoves or ovens as a heat source.  
  • Avoid using household appliances that use water.  
  • Know when it is time to go. If it is too cold to stay, leave for a shelter until it is safe to do so.  
  • Head to the lowest level of the building; it will stay warmer longer.  
  • Keep doors and blinds / curtains closed.  
  • Put your cell phone on battery saving mode and only use if absolutely necessary. 
  • Disconnect appliances and electronics from outlets.  
  • Avoid going into the freezer or refrigerator.  

2. Flood

Before a Flood:
  • Avoid buying or building property in low-lying areas and in flood plains as the potential for flooding is higher.  
  • Check drainage around your home and take steps to prevent flooding around structures.  
  • Grade your property so water does not collect or flow towards your home. 
  • Ensure basement windows and ground level doors have been protected with weather protection sealant.  
  • Install eavestroughs and ensure downspouts move water away from the building.  
  • Install a sump pump in your basement.  
During a Flood:
  • Water is powerful, never try to cross a flooded area.  
  • Do not shut off electricity.  
  • Move furniture, electronics, appliances, and other belongings above ground level, if possible.  
  • Remove chemicals from flood area to prevent water and soil contamination.  
  • If instructed to do so by authorities, use sandbags or other barriers to protect your property.  
  • Do not lock animals in pens or enclosures.  
  • Be ready to evacuate if alerted to do so.  

3. Extreme Cold + Winter Storm

Before a Storm:
  • Check road and weather conditions prior to travelling. Reschedule your travel if possible.  
  • String guidelines between your home and other buildings you may need to access during a storm.  
  • Remove trees, branches, structures, ice, and anything else that could fall or cause damage.  
  • Ensure pets and other animals have access to warm shelter.  
During a Storm:
  • Avoid driving and wait several hours after the storm ends before driving anywhere. If you are stuck in your vehicle, find a safe place to park with your hazards on, and call for help. Run the engine only occasionally to stay warm but be aware of exhaust fumes.  
  • Avoid going outdoors, but if you must, ensure to dress in warm, windproof layers. Be aware of slippery ground conditions. Watch for signs of frost bite. Do not overexert yourself as sweating can cause issues. 

4. Extreme Heat

Before a Extreme Heat:
  • Evaluate your home: how do you keep it cool? Are fans and air conditioners working properly? Do you have access to 4L water per person of water each day? 
  • Consider the possibility of a power or utility outage and take steps accordingly. Do you have a risk of wildfire? 
  • Set up a Buddy System to check on friends and family members who may be at higher risk during extreme heat.  
  • Consult with your doctor about precautions with medication during extreme heat.  
  • Install thermal curtains on all windows to block heat, as well as awnings and shelters to block the sun 
  • Identify the cool areas in your home – how can you keep them cool, and how can you set them up for sleeping? 
  • Assess the risk of heat exposure on pets and animals. 
  • Prepare a list of air conditioned places nearby to go if needed (i.e. shopping mall, movie theatre, library).  
During a Extreme Heat:
  • Stay hydrated. Eat hydrating foods, such as fruit and vegetables.  
  • If working outside, take breaks in cool areas often. Wear sunblock and seek shaded areas or use an umbrella to create shade.  
  • Wear clothing that is lightweight, loosely woven and with a relaxed fit. Wide brimmed or beaked hats protect your eyes and help reduce heat absorption.  
  • Keep windows, curtains / blinds, and doors closed during the day. Create a cross breeze by opening windows in the early morning or evening and arranging fans to pull cool air in and push hot air out.  
  • Use exhaust fans when cooking and showering to remove humidity and heat. Consider cooking outdoors or meals that do not require cooking.  
  • Take a cool shower / bath. Apply cold towel to your neck.  
  • Consider sleeping outdoors.  
  • Check on your ‘Heat Buddy.’ 
  • If your home gets too warm, find a place with air conditioning. 

5. Extreme Wind

Before a Extreme Wind:
  • Assess your property. Are there trees, branches, structures that could cause damage or blow away? Take steps to prevent this.  
  • Be aware of weather conditions and avoid driving and being outside.  
During a Extreme Wind:
  • Seek shelter immediately and shelter-in-place until the wind passes. If possible, go to the basement or an underground shelter. Otherwise seek a small interior ground floor room, such as a bathroom, closet, or hallway. Take cover under a sturdy object, such as a table or desk.  
  • Make sure windows and doors are closed and locked and then stay away.  
  • If outdoors, get to low lying ground and protect your head from flying debris.  
  • Do not try to rescue or shelter animals unless safe to do so. 
  • If driving, seek shelter in a solid building immediately. If you cannot, get out of the vehicle and take shelter in a ditch, culvert, or low lying area away from your vehicle. Cover your head, be prepared to move, and be aware of flooding. Do not shelter under a bridge or overpass.  

6. Thunderstorms / Hail

Before a Thunderstorm / Hail:
  • Secure loose objects.  
  • Cover your vehicle to protect from hail.  
During a Thunderstorm / Hail:
  • Always consider lightening and hail a threat. Immediately take cover.  
  • Seek shelter in a fully enclosed building with wiring and plumbing.  
  • Unplug electronics and appliances and stay away from outlets.  
  • Avoid windows, doors, fireplaces, sinks, tubs, and showers as these are all more likely to pass electricity.  
  • Shelter-in-place for at least thirty minutes after the last rumble of thunder.  
  • If outdoors and cannot get inside, avoid standing near tall objects or anything metal, avoid water and take shelter in a low lying area. If possible, avoid sheltering in a vehicle. Crouch down with your face away from the wind and protect your neck with your hands.  

Asides from creating priority for yourself to take steps to prepare for an emergency, there are other benefits.

When you are prepared, you require assistance of others less.

  • Emergency services can focus on responding to the disaster and getting it under control.
  • Social services can focus on those most vulnerable.
  • And the impact of the disaster is reduced, so you can get back your ‘normal’ quicker.  

Hazard Preparedness | alberta.ca