Many household fires are caused by careless cooking.

Proper Use of the 9-1-1
Emergency Telephone Number
and Non-Emergency Numbers

When to dial 9-1-1?

9-1-1 provides instant access to emergency services. It should be used for immediate  police, fire and  ambulance response in a life threatening situation.

It’s important that the public use the system correctly. If the service is flooded with non-emergency calls, then it will be difficult for people with real emergencies to get through in  a life or death situation.

During an emergency, it’s easy to understand how residents can become overwhelmed and inadvertently tie up the emergency service with non-emergency calls. It’s wise to think twice before
you dial 9-1-1.

Do not call 
9-1-1 to locate relatives, to ask about the availability of gas at local pumps, to find out the location or availability of shelters or other services during an emergency.

Do call 
9-1-1 when a situation requires the immediate response of police, firefighting and/or ambulance personnel in a life threatening situation.

9-1-1 to report a fire, to save a life or to stop a crime.

There are several non-emergency numbers that you can call with any other questions that you may have:

Non-Emergency Numbers

Twp of Bonfield Municipal Office 705-776-2641

Public Health 705-474-1400

Police 705-495-3878

Hospital 705-472-8600

Twp of Bonfield Public Works 705-776-2659

Pandemic Influenza

Human influenza, or the flu, is a respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. This virus spreads through droplets that have been coughed or sneezed into the air by someone who has the flu. Different strains of this virus regularly circulate in our communities, making people sick. However, you may be able to avoid getting sick if you have antibodies to fight off the virus strain you’re exposed to. Influenza immunization, or the “flu shot,” is the best way to avoid getting sick because it stimulates the body to produce antibodies against the influenza virus.

From time to time, an influenza strain changes into a new strain. We may have little or no immunity to the new strain. If this new strain of influenza virus has the ability to spread easily from person to person, many people around the world could become ill and possibly die. This is referred to as an influenza pandemic.

At this time, there is no influenza pandemic anywhere in the world. But knowing how to protect yourself from getting influenza is important both before and during a pandemic. By following good hand and respiratory hygiene practices, you can reduce the risk of catching or spreading influenza both during the regular flu season and in a pandemic.

What is an Influenza Pandemic

Seasonal Flu vs. Avian flu vs. Influenza Pandemic

Vaccines and Drugs

What PHAC is Doing to Prepare

Phases of the Canadian Pandemic Plan

Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan

Expect The Unexpected

Floods. Tornadoes. Hurricanes. Blizzards. Epidemics. Transportation accidents involving hazardous materials.

Air or rail crashes. Toxic or flammable gas leaks. Electrical power blackouts.

Building or structural collapse. Uncontrollable fires. Explosions.
Breakdown in flow of essential services or supplies.

The Emergency Management Act
An emergency is defined as “a situation caused by the forces of nature, an accident, an intentional act or otherwise that constitutes a danger of major proportions to life or property.”

Despite the best of precautions, no one can predict an emergency. Just about anything can happen at any time. The weather, for instance, can wreak havoc at a moment’s notice.

An important rule of thumb in any emergency situation is to stay calm.

The first rule of thumb is to be prepared. If you’re unprepared for a disaster, it can shatter your life.

If you are prepared, you will be able to cope with the situation at hand.

Plan for it

It’s wise to expect the unexpected and to plan for it.  Knowing what to do when an emergency strikes will enable you to be in control.

You can help your community prepare for the demands of a disaster by preparing yourself. Remember, safety starts at home.

Make sure everyone in your family knows what to do before, during and after an emergency. Have a family meeting to discuss how you can best prepare for an emergency. Don’t delay – do it today!

Prepare Now

Your best protection in any emergency is knowing what to do. Read this Guidebook and act on its suggestions. (You might consider taking a first aid course, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Learn About Disasters

Find out what type of disasters can happen in your community. Know what to expect during each disaster.

Look At Your Situation

Hazard-proof your home. Anticipate what could go wrong in your home and take some precautions.  Here are a few examples. Secure objects that could tip and start a fire, such as a water heater or gas appliances. If you live in a flood-prone area, remove all chemical products from the basement. Move irreplaceable belongings to upper floors.

Post Emergency Numbers

Keep a list of key telephone numbers and addresses near the phone. Use the handy reference in this Guidebook. (If there’s been a major disaster, use the phone only if it’s absolutely necessary.  Emergency crews will need all available lines.)

Check Your Insurance

Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage for the range of risks that might occur in your area.

Prepare a Family Disaster Survival Kit

Have a family survival kit that will keep you and your family self-sufficient in your home for at least 3 days. Make sure everyone knows where to find the emergency survival kit. (Check the Family Emergency Supply Kit Section of this guide.)

Keep A Smaller Kit In Your Car

A blanket, extra clothing, a candle and matches can save your life. (Check the Car Survival Kit Section)


People with Special Needs

Living in a community can require assistance in the event of a major disaster, due to mobility problems, or physical, psychological or sensory disabilities.

Electric Life Support

If a member of the household is bedridden and requires constant medical care or has electrical life support equipment at home, discuss this NOW with the family physician or the City Emergency Coordinator.

Home Health Care Patients

Persons who receive home health care should discuss emergency plans with their care giver or home care agency. They should also check with their physician if prior arrangement would be necessary for evacuation to a hospital.

Choose an Out-of-Province Family Contact

Choose someone in another province to be your family’s contact, if possible. After the disaster, call your family contact if you get separated from your family. Make sure everyone memorizes this person’s name and telephone number.

Have a Show And Tell

If you live in a house or mobile home, teach members of your family where and how to shut off the water, electricity and gas supply. Make easy-to-see signs to place near the breaker panel (or main circuit breaker), gas and main water supply.

If you live in an apartment, show everyone in your family where the emergency exits is. Show them where the fire alarm is, and explain when and how to use it. In a fire or other emergency, don’t use the elevators. The elevator may not work if the power goes out.

Learn About Your Community’s Emergency Plans

Your children’s school and your workplace might have their own emergency plans. Find out what they are and how they apply to you. You may be separated from your family and need to know how to be reunited.

Beware Of Potential Emergency Situations

Heed weather warnings and avoid driving and other activities in hazardous weather conditions.

Know What to Do After A Disaster

Immediately following the emergency, you may be confused or disoriented. Stay calm and remember the following procedures.

Help the Injured

Use your first-aid kit (See the Survival Kit Section in this guide).

Listen To the Radio Or Television

Listen to your local radio or television station for instructions. A battery-powered radio will still work if the power is out.

Don’t Use the Telephone

Don’t use the telephone (including cellular telephones) unless it is absolutely necessary. Emergency crews will need all available lines.

Be Ready To Evacuate

If the emergency is serious enough, you may be asked to leave your home and go to a nearby evacuation centre.

Preparing An Emergency Food Supply
Short Term Food Supplies

Although it is unlikely that an emergency would cut off your food supply for three days, you should prepare a supply that will last that long.

The easiest way to develop a three-day stockpile is to increase the amount of basic foods you normally keep on your shelves.

Storage Tips

Keep food in a dry, cool spot in the house, in a dark area if possible.

Keep food covered at all times.

Open food boxes or cans carefully so that you can close them in tightly after each  use.  If the product is normally refrigerated after opening, do not allow it to sit out for more than two hours.  After two hours this food may not be safe to eat.

Also, once a can has been opened, the contents should be transferred to food storage containers made of plastic, glass or stainless steel.

Wrap cookies and crackers in plastic bags, and keep them in airtight containers.

Empty opened packages of sugar, dried fruits and nuts into screw-top jars or airtight cans to protect them from pests.

Inspect all food for signs of spoilage before use.

Use foods before they go bad, and replace them with fresh supplies, dated with ink or marker. Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in front.

Nutrition Tips

During and immediately after a disaster, it will be vital that you maintain your strength. So remember:

Eat at least one well-balanced meal each day.

Drink enough liquid to enable your body to function properly (two litres a day).

Take in enough calories to enable you to do any necessary work.

When Food Supplies Are Low

You don’t need to go out and buy unfamiliar foods to prepare an emergency food supply. You can use the canned foods, dry mixes and other staples on your cup- board shelves. In fact, familiar foods are important. They can lift morale and give a feeling of security in times of stress. In addition, most canned foods do not require cooking, water or special preparation.

If activity is reduced, healthy people can survive on half their usual food intake for an extended period. Food, unlike water, may be rationed safely, except for children and pregnant women, diabetics and those with special needs.

If your water supply is limited, try to avoid foods that are high in fat and protein, and don’t stock salty foods, since they will make you thirsty. Try to eat salt-free
crackers, whole-grain cereals and canned foods with high liquid content.

Special Considerations

As you stock food, take into account your family’s unique needs and tastes. Try to include foods that they will enjoy and that are also high in calories and nutrition. Foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking are best.

Individuals with special diets and allergies will need particular attention, as will babies, toddlers and the elderly. Nursing mothers may need liquid formula, in case they are unable to nurse.  Canned foods, juices and soups may be helpful for the ill or elderly.

Make sure you have a manual can opener and disposable utensils, and don’t forget non-perishable foods for your pets.

Shelf Life of Stored Foods

Here are some general guidelines for rotating emergency foods:

Don’t store longer than six months:

Powdered milk (boxed) – 1 year (unopened)

Dried fruit (in sealed container) – 1 year

Dry, crisp crackers (in sealed container)

Powdered potatoes

Don’t store longer than one year:

Canned meat and condensed vegetable soups

Canned fruits, fruit juices and vegetables

Ready-to-eat cereals and uncooked instant cereals (in containers) – 8 months

Peanut butter – 6 months (unopened), 2 months (opened)

Jams (if seal unbroken)

Hard candy, chocolate bars (7 months) and canned nuts (1 month)

May be stored indefinitely:
(in proper containers and conditions)


White Rice – Several years

Dried Corn – 6 to 8 months

Vegetable Oils – 1 year (unopened)

Bouillon products

Powdered milk (in nitrogen-packed cans)



Non-carbonated drinks

Several shelf lives listed do not correspond to those suggested by the Ontario

Ministry of Agriculture and Food

If there is a power failure:

1. First, use perishable food and foods from the refrigerator.

2. Then use foods from the freezer. To minimize the number of times you open the freezer door, post a list of freezer contents on it. A well-insulated freezer can keep food safe for awhile after the power goes off.  Keep a thermometer in the freezer.  If the temperature goes above -18�C, it will start to thaw.  After that point, the food is safe for three days or until it goes above 4�C, whichever comes first.

3. Finally, begin to use non-perishable foods and staples.

How to Cook if the Power Goes Out

For emergency cooking, you can use a barbeque, a charcoal grill or camp stove, OUTDOORS ONLY. You can also heat food indoors using candle warmers, chafing dishes and fondue pots. CAUTION! The cooking area should be safely vented to prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Canned foods can be eaten right out of the can. If you heat it in the can, be sure to open the can and remove the label first.

Preventing Food Poisoning

Food poisoning can be easily prevented by following some guidelines for the storage and preparation of food.

Foods that do not require refrigeration are: fresh vegetables, fruit, bread, dried pasta, flour and canned foods.

The following foods can be hazardous if not stored properly and must be kept at a temperature of  4 degrees Celsius or lower or must be kept frozen at -18 degrees Celsius or lower:

All meat products including beef, poultry,  fish and pork

All dairy products including cream, milk,  cheese and eggs

Frozen foods – as soon as the food is thawed, should be cooked or stored in a  refrigerator

Washing hands properly before handling food is important in the prevention of food poisoning. Although it may seem  basic, proper hand washing is not always practiced. Washing hands should take 15-20 seconds.

Please follow these steps:

Wet hands with running water

Apply soap in the middle of wet hands

Lather well

Use vigorous friction by rubbing the hands together

Pay attention to your nails and between fingers and thumbs

Rinse hands thoroughly with running water

Pat hands dry with a paper towel

Turn water tap off with paper towel

If running water is not available, follow the above steps using a bucket or pail of potable water (see section on making potable water). If a water source of any kind is not available, any liquid hand sanitizer sold at drug stores is recommended.

Storing Foods Properly Without Refrigeration

The hazardous foods noted above must be stored at temperatures 4 degrees Celsius or lower (use thermometers to be sure of temperature). Bacteria grows at temperatures between 5 degrees Celsius and 60 degrees Celsius.

Food can be stored in coolers if individually wrapped. To keep cooler at required temperature, fill with ice or ice packs and keep covered to help insulate.

AVOID – any food prepared with mayonnaise or any foods that have been cooked and kept without refrigeration.

Keep raw foods separate from prepared foods.

Prevent meats from dripping on other foods by placing them on the bottom of the cooler (drippings can cause contamination).

If a power outage occurs, cover freezers with blankets for extra insulation.

Do not re-freeze thawed foods.

Do no eat foods that have come in contact with flood water or sewage water.

A good rule when dealing with food is WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!

Without power, a full upright or chest freezer will keep food frozen for about two days. A half-full freezer will keep food frozen for one day. Keep the door shut as much as possible. Ice can keep the freezer cool.

The refrigerator will keep food cool for 4-6 hours depending on the kitchen temperature. Ice can keep food on the refrigerator shelves cooler. Keep the door shut as much as possible. Check the temperature of the food to ensure that it is 4 degrees Celsius or lower.

Preparing An Emergency Water Supply

In a disaster, you might be unable to get food; water and the electricity supply could be interrupted for days. By preparing emergency provisions, you can turn what could be a life-threatening situation into a manageable problem.

Water: The Absolute Necessity

Stocking water reserves and learning how to purify contaminated water should be your top priority in preparing for an emergency. You should store at least a three-day supply of water for each member of your family. Everyone’s needs will differ, depending upon age, physical condition, activity, diet and climate. A normally active person needs to drink at least two litres of water each day. Hot environments can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers and people who are ill will need more. You will need additional water for food preparation and hygiene. Store at least four litres per person per day.

If supplies begin to run low, remember: never ration water. Drink the amount you need today, and try to find more for tomorrow. You can minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity and staying cool.

How to Store Emergency Water Supplies

Store your water in thoroughly washed plastic, glass, fibreglass, or enamel-lined metal containers. Never use a container that has held toxic substances, because tiny amounts may remain in the container’s pores. Hard plastic containers, such as soft drink bottles, are best. You can also purchase food-grade plastic buckets or drums.

Before storing your water, treat it with a preservative, such as chlorine bleach, to prevent the growth of micro-organisms. Use liquid bleach that contains 5.25 per cent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, colour-safe bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners. Some bleach containers warn, ‘Not for Personal Use’. You can disregard these warnings if the label states sodium hypochlorite is the only active ingredient and if you use only the small quantities in the instructions that follow.

Hidden Water Sources in Your Home

If a disaster catches you without a stored supply of clean water, you can use water in your hot-water tank, in your plumbing and in ice cubes. As a last resort, you can use water in the reservoir tank of your toilet (not the bowl), but purify it first.

To use the water in your pipes, let air into the plumbing by turning on the highest faucet in your house and draining the water from the lowest one.

To use the water in your hot-water tank, be sure the electricity or gas is off, and open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve and turning on a hot-water faucet. Do not turn on the gas or electricity when the tank is empty.

Do you know the location of your incoming water valve? It is normally located in the basement. You’ll need to shut it off to stop contaminated water from entering your home if you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines.

Emergency Outdoor Water Sources

You can use these outdoor sources, but purify the water before drinking it. Avoid water with floating material, an odour or dark colour.

  • Rainwater
  • Streams, rivers
  • Ponds and lakes
  • Natural springs

Four Easy Ways to Purify Water

In addition to having a bad odour and taste, contaminated water can contain micro-organisms that cause diseases such as dysentery, cholera, typhoid and hepatitis. You must purify all water of uncertain purity before using it for drinking, food preparation or hygiene.

There are many ways to purify water. None are perfect. Often the best solution is a combination of methods. Before purifying, let any suspended particles settle to the bottom, or strain them through layers of paper towel or clean cloth.

Purification methods

These measures will kill microbes but will not remove other contaminants such as heavy metals, salts, and most other chemicals.

1. Boiling is the safest method of purifying water.

Bring water to a rolling boil for ten minutes, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before drinking. Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring it back and forth between containers. This will also improve the taste of stored water.

2. Chlorination uses liquid chlorine bleach to kill micro-organisms.

Add two drops of bleach per litre of water stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not smell of chlorine at that point, add another dose and let stand another 15 minutes.

If you do not have a dropper, improvise one using a spoon and a square-ended strip of paper or thin cloth about 1/4 inch  by 2 inches. Put the strip in the spoon with an end hanging down about 1/2 inch below the scoop of the spoon. Place bleach in the spoon and carefully tip it. Drops the size of those from a medicine dropper will drip off the end of the strip.

3. Purification tablets release chlorine or iodine.

They are inexpensive and available at most sporting goods stores and some drugstores. Follow the package directions.  Usually one tablet is enough for one quart of water. Double the dose for cloudy water.

4. Water Purification devices.

Several water purification devices can be purchased that filter many impurities from water. Follow the instruction manual.  It contains important information on the safe use and maintenance of these devices.

Electrical Safety

Power Failure:

Unplug and turn off appliances.

Turn off main switch, if directed.

Turn furnace to minimum.

When power resumes, plug in only the most essential appliances before reconnecting everything.

Emergency and Rescue

Treat all wires as live regardless of their location, stay clear, don’t touch.

If a person or vehicle comes in contact with outdoor wires, don’t touch either the person or the vehicle; call 9-1-1 and Ontario Power Generation Company or your local Hydro Company.

Where dislodged wires are in contact with your vehicle, don’t get out until wires are removed. In case of fire, jump free with both feet together and without touching the vehicle and the ground at the same time someone receives a shock from a faulty appliance and is still in contact with it; don’t touch the appliance before unplugging it first.

Electrical Fire

Unplug equipment whenever possible.

Never use water on electrical equipment or wires.

Use baking soda or recommended dry chemical electrical fire extinguisher.


Teach them to respect electricity.

Warn of the danger of touching wires. The contact of a kite or model airplane with overhead lines can cause serious injury by simply touching string or control wire.

Remember to avoid areas marked ‘Keep Out’ or ‘Danger’.

Climbing poles, towers, fences or trees surrounding electrical equipment or power lines is extremely dangerous.

Never poke or push things into electrical equipment or outlets.

Main Switch and Panel

Always shut off main switch when changing fuses or doing work around the house.

Never open the door to the main switch because there are live contacts inside.

Electrical panel covers should always be intact.

Breaker operation should be firm, not loose.

Fuses should be screwed in tightly to prevent overheating.

Install proper size fuses, never install larger than required.

Never replace a fuse with a penny, dime or any metal object.

Use time delay or dual element fuses ‘D’ or ‘P’. ‘P’ is recommended for circuits with heat generating appliances which aren’t motorized (water heaters, ranges).  ‘D’ is recommended for motorized appliances (dryers, furnace, and refrigerators).

Warning Signs of Trouble that Shouldn’t be Ignored

Repeatedly tripped breakers or blown fuses

Overheating or discoloration in panel

Rust in panel

Flickering lights


Wiring connections to an electrical panel must be done using approved equipment and installed by a qualified electrician.

Fumes from these engines are lethal. Do not operate them inside a house or garage with the doors closed.

Keep a fire extinguisher nearby for emergency use.

Read the instruction manual thoroughly. It contains important information on the safe operation and maintenance of a generator.

Do not refill the gas tank while the generator is running.

Car Survival Kit

Every driver should carry a survival kit in his or her vehicle. Here are some important items to consider:


  • Booster cables.The thicker the better. Look for four or six-gauge cables.

  • Vehicle fluids. These include windshield washer fluid, gas-line antifreeze, motor oil, transmission oil, power steering fuel, brake fluid, anti-freeze, and rags for wiping dipsticks so fluid levels can be checked properly.

  • An approved container able to hold up to four litres of gasoline.

  • Emergency flares. If you ever have to use them, remember to place them at least 15metres away from your car to give other drivers adequate warning of the problem.

  • Sand, salt or kitty litter during winter. Thiscomes in handy when stuck and wheels are spinning on ice.

  • Emergency food pack.

  • Shovel and axe or hatchet.

  • A mini air compressor to help inflate a flat tire and/or puncture seal gels.

  • A tire gauge for measuring the air pressurein your tires.

  • Spare fuses.Carry an assortment thatincludes at least one of 7.5, 10, 15, 20, 35and 30 amp fuses.

  • A flashlight and spare batteries.

  • Tool kit, including a good quality screwdriver set with a flat head, Phillips head, Robertson head, and Torx head, pliers, small hammer, utility knife, ratchet socket set, a four-way wrench, Vice-Grip pliers, rolls of electrical and duct tape.

  • First aid kit

  • A blanket (the special ‘survival’ blanketsare best)

  • An emergency candle and campingmatches

  • Road maps

  • Ice scraper and brush

  • Fire extinguisher (ABC type)

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that you cannot see, smell, or taste.  The incomplete burning of fossil fuels such as natural gas, propane, heating oil, kerosene, coal, charcoal, or wood products produces CO.

Examples of carbon monoxide producing devices commonly in use around the home include:

Fuel fired furnaces (non-electric)
Gas water heaters
Fireplaces and woodstoves
Gas stoves
Gas dryers
Charcoal grills
Lawn mowers, snowblowers and other yard equipment

Symptoms of CO poisoning

Exposure to CO can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, burning eyes, confusion, drowsiness, and even loss of consciousness.  In very severe cases, CO poisoning can cause brain damage and death.

What can create a CO hazard?

  • Fuel burning appliances, venting systems and chimneys that have not been serviced and maintained regularly by a qualified service technician or heating contractor.
  • Improper venting of a furnace and/orcracked furnace heat exchanger.
  • Using fuel-burning appliances designed for outdoor use (e.g. barbeques, lanterns, and chainsaws) in a closed area such as a tent, garage, or home.

What should I do if I suspect CO in my home?

If you or anyone else in your home is experiencing the symptoms of CO poisoning, leave immediately and get medical help. Call 9-1-1 or your local fire department.

If a CO detector alarm sounds in your home, open all doors and windows to ventilate. If you can’t find the problem and the alarm continues, leave the building and contact your local gas utility or a qualified heating contractor to check your fuel burning equipment.

About CO detectors

The Carbon Monoxide Awareness Committee recommends installing only CO detectors that bear the CSA CAN/CGA 6.19 standard or the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 2034 standard.

At least one CO detector should be installed at knee-height, adjacent to the sleeping area of your home.  Please refer to the manufacturer’s instruction for proper use and maintenance.

CO hazard prevention

CO detectors are not a substitute for the care and maintenance or the proper use of your fuel burning appliances. Regular maintenance by a qualified technician and safe use of this equipment are key activities to help prevent a CO hazard. Don’t let your family be the next victims of the ‘SILENT KILLER’.

Children And Disasters

Children’s disaster-related fears and anxieties are very real to them.

Young children do not express their fears verbally but through their behaviour.

Changes in behaviour may include:

  • Nail biting
  • Bed wetting
  • Thumb sucking
  • Rocking or holding onto a blanket or toy
  • Clinging behaviours, nightmares, refusing  to sleep
  • Screaming, shaking, crying

How parents can help:

  • Take their fears seriously.
  • Comfort young children with physical care, holding and hugging.
  • Encourage children to express themselves through play or drawing.
  • Keep the family together as much as possible.
  • Include the children in recovery activities.
  • Give children information that they can understand.
  • Relax rules but maintain family structure and responsibilities.

Adolescents and disaster

In disasters, adolescents can sometimes be involved in rescue and this may compound their level of trauma. They are survivors and also rescuers, until more organized help arrives. Frequently, they are exposed as witnesses to injury and death, as well as the physical devastation of their community.

Reactions may include:

  • Withdrawal, isolation, or depression
  • Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness,  worthlessness
  • Academic failures
  • Sleep disturbances, headaches,  loss of appetite

Ways to help:

  • Involving teens in clean-up activities
  • Assisting the elderly with errands
  • Babysitting for families busy with
    rebuilding activities
  • Organizing play activities for younger  children
  • Peer counseling, teen call-in phone line
  • Social activities such as dances, athletics, etc.

Elderly And Disasters

The first task in planning emergency services for the elderly is to understand that most seniors are not frail, sick, or dependent. Many are independent and resourceful and want to participate in the planning of their activities. Disaster literature indicates that the elderly tend to recover more successfully and more readily within a one-year period than other age groups. However, because some elderly do experience emotional reactions and stress, interveners in disaster areas must be prepared to identify and assist individuals in need.

Some factors influencing seniors when evacuation is necessary include:

  • Physical or mental disabilities
  • Lack of transportation
  • Resistance to leaving their homes because  of pets or fear of robbery

How to Help:

  • Encourage them to mourn their losses
  • Involve them in planning services to meet  their needs
  • Allow them to talk about their experiences
  • Regular meals, supervision for medication

Coping With A Disaster : What You Might Experience

It is not unusual to have physical and emotional reactions to a traumatic event.


  • Rapid heart beat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chills or sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Change in appetite
  • Increased sensory perception, hyper vigilance
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Headaches


  • Fear or panic, confusion or poor concentration
  • Denial, disbelief
  • Withdrawn from family and/or friends
  • Anger, guilt, suspicion
  • Reoccurring thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Need for information
  • Reluctance to abandon property
  • Rejection of outside help

How do Families Cope with Disasters

  • Recognize the way you react to the event is not unusual.
  • Try not to make big life changes.
  • Talk to family members and friends.
  • Listen to one another; help each other with daily tasks.
  • Try to achieve a balance between rest and activity.

Emotional Problems: After a disaster

Emotional problems following a disaster are a result of problems in daily life and not from personal reactions or poor coping skills.

Problems can include:

  • Dealing with the emotional reaction of family members.

  • Family and marital problems including domestic violence.

  • Uncertainty about insurance coverage or the need to borrow money because of insurance shortfall.

  • Reconstruction strains and delays.

  • The discomfort and lack of privacy of having to live in shelters, damaged homes, motels or with relatives.

Be Prepared With an Emergency Plan

The best way to protect your family from the effects of a disaster is to have a disaster plan. If you are a pet owner, that plan must also include your pets. Being prepared can save their lives.

Different disasters require different responses.  Should the disaster be a tornado or a hazardous spill, you may have to evacuate your home.

In the event of a disaster, if you must evacuate, the most important thing you can do to protect your pet is to evacuate them too. Leaving pets behind, even if you try to create a safe place for them, is likely to result in their being injured, lost, or worse.  So prepare now for the day when you and your pets may have to leave your home.

Have a Safe Place to Take Your Pets

It may be difficult, if not impossible, to find shelter for your animals in the midst of a disaster, so plan ahead. Do not wait until disaster strikes to do research.

  • Contact hotels and motels outside our immediate area to check policies on accepting pets and restrictions on number, size and species. Ask if ‘No Pet’ policies could be waived in an emergency. Keep a list of ‘pet friendly’ places, including   phone numbers, with other disaster information and supplies. If you have notice of an impending disaster, call ahead for reservations.
  • Ask friends, relatives or others outside the affected area whether they could shelter your animals. If you have more than one pet, they may be more comfortable if kept together, but be prepared to house them separately.
  • Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency: include 24-hour telephone numbers.
  • Ask local animal shelters if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets in a disaster. Animal shelters may be overburdened caring for the animals they already have as well as those displaced by a disaster, so this should be your last resort.

Assemble a Portable Pet Disaster Supply Kit

Whether you are away from home for a day or a week, you will need essential supplies. Keep items in an accessible place and store them in sturdy containers that can be carried easily (duffel bags, covered trash containers, etc.) Your pet disaster supplies kit should include:

  • Medications and medical records (stored in waterproof container) and a first aid kit.
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that your animals can’t escape.
  • Current photos of your pets in case they get lost. Food, potable water, bowls, cat litter/pan, and can opener.
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behaviour problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
  • Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable.

Know What to Do as a Disaster Approaches

  • Often, warnings are issued hours, even days, in advance. At the first hint of disaster, act to protect your pet.
  • Call ahead to confirm emergency shelter arrangements for you and your pets.
  • Check to be sure your pet disaster supplies are ready to take at a moment’s notice.
  • Bring all pets into the house so that you won’t have to search for them if you have to leave in a hurry.
  • Make sure all dogs and cats are wearing collars and securely fastened, up-to-date identification. Attach the phone number and address of your temporary shelter, if you know it, or that of a friend or relative outside the disaster area. You can buy temporary tags or put adhesive tape on the back of your pet’s ID tag, adding informa- tion with an indelible pen.

You may not be home when the evacuation order comes. Find out if a trusted neighbour would be willing to take your pets and meet you at a prearranged location. This person should be comfortable with your pets, know where your animals are likely to be, know where your pet disaster supplies kit is kept, and have a key to your home. If you use a pet sitting service, they may be available to help, but discuss this possibility well in advance.

Planning and preparation will enable you to evacuate with your pets quickly and safely. But bear in mind that animals react differently under stress.  Outside your home and in the car, keep dogs securely leashed. Transport cats in carriers. Don’t leave animals unattended anywhere they can run off. The most trustworthy pets may panic, hide, and try to escape or even bite or scratch. And, when you return home, give your pets time to settle back into their routines. Consult your veterinarian if any behaviour problems persist.

The law requires that cats and dogs have up-to-date rabies shots. Ensure that you have proper documentation of the shots for your pets. Should your animal bite someone, it is important that you report the bite to the local health department.  Rabies is a concern and all animal bites are investigated.

Know Your Insurance

Damage from most storms, including hurricanes, tornadoes, and hail, is generally covered by insurance. Also, water damage caused by water coming through a storm damaged roof and windows, broken pipes or overflowing appliances is usually covered. Other water damage such as sewer backup may, or may not, be covered.

Insurance covers more than damage to your home and contents. Additional living expenses are an example. It pays for the increase in living expenses, including moving expenses, if your home is unfit to live in or you have to move out while repairs are being made.

If a generator is hardwired into your electrical panel, notify your insurance representative and ensure that the work was done by a qualified professional.

Be prepared. Protect your financial assets. Discuss your insurance needs with an agent, broker or insurance representative.

Severe Storms

A thunderstorm develops in an unstable atmosphere when warm moist air near the earth’s surface rises quickly and cools. The moisture condenses to form rain droplets and dark thunderclouds called cumulonimbus clouds. These storms are often accompanied by hail, lightning, high winds, heavy rain and tornadoes. Thunderstorms are usually over in an hour,  although a series of thunderstorms can last for several  hours.


To estimate how far away the lightning is, count the seconds between the flash of lightning and the thunderclap. Each second is about 300 metres. If you count fewer than five seconds, take shelter immediately. Lightning is near and you do not want to be the tallest object in the area.

At the office or house

  • If indoors, stay there but away from windows, doors, fireplaces, radiators, stoves, sinks, bathtubs, appliances, metal   pipes, telephones and other materials which conduct electricity. (You can use a cellular phone.)
  • Unplug radios and televisions.
  • Do no go out to rescue the laundry on the clothesline as it conducts electricity.



  • If caught in the open, do not lie flat but crouch in the leap frog position and lower your head.
  • Take shelter in a building or depressed area such as a ditch or a culvert but never under a tree.
  • Do not ride bicycles, motorcycles or golf carts or use metal shovels or golf clubs as they conduct electricity.
  • If swimming or in a boat, get back to shore immediately.
  • If you are in a car, stay there but pull away from trees which might fall on you.

Winter Storms

Winter storms kill more than 100 people every year. That is more than the total number of people killed by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, lightning and extreme heat.

At home

If you live in a rural community where winter storms are frequent, you may want to consider stocking up on heating fuel, ready-to-eat foods, and a battery powered flashlight and radio and extra batteries.

  • When a winter storm is forecast, leave your radio on. If you are on a farm with livestock, bring the animals into the barn.  Make sure they have plenty of water and food. You may also want to string a lifeline between your house and any outbuildings which you may have to go to during the storm.
  • When a winter storm hits, stay indoors.  If you must go to the outbuildings, dress for the weather. Outer clothing should be tightly woven and water-repellant. The jacket should have a hood. Wear mittens.

In Your Car

Restock your car survival kit. Keep your gas tank almost full during the winter and have extra windshield washer fluid and gas line anti-freeze on hand.

If you do not already have a cellular telephone, you may want to consider having one in your car for emergencies. If you must travel during a snowstorm, do so during the day and let someone know your route and arrival time.

If your car is stuck in a winter storm, remain calm and stay in your car. Keep fresh air in your car by opening the window slightly on the sheltered side, away from the wind. You can run the car engine about 10 minutes every half-hour if the exhaust system is working well. Beware of exhaust fumes and check the exhaust pipe periodically to make sure it is not blocked with snow. (Remember, you cannot smell potentially fatal carbon monoxide fumes.) In order to keep your hands and feet warm exercise them periodically. In general, it is a good idea to keep moving to avoid falling asleep. If you do  try to shovel the snow from around your car avoid over-exerting yourself as shoveling and bitter cold can kill. Keep watch for traffic or searchers.

Hypothermia is defined as a condition where a person’s body temperature falls below 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of hypothermia may be more dangerous than seems evident.

  • Falling core body temperature can lead to fatigue, lethargy/apathy, clumsiness, mental confusion, slurred speech, shivering, slowed breathing, slowed heartbeat,
    low blood pressure and eventually death.
  • Cold hands, feet and abdomen
  • Blueness or puffiness of skin


Anyone with suspected hypothermia must be transported to the emergency room of the nearest hospital as soon as possible. Prevent further heat loss with dry, warm clothes and blankets. Warm fluids by mouth may also be given (avoid alcohol and caffeine).


Wear many layers of clothing (three or more).  Wearing a hat will help you to conserve as much as 40% of your body heat. Eat lots of energy food.  Drink plenty of fluids and hot drinks (not alcohol).  Avoid getting wet. Keep moving the arms and legs to generate heat.


Flood damage costs Canadian taxpayers millions of dollars annually, to say nothing of the cost in terms of human lives and suffering. In 1997, of the 11 emergency situations in Ontario, seven were related to flooding. All governments work to reduce the chance of floods, but the first line of defense is the individual. Each of us has a responsibility to protect our homes and families to the greatest extent possible. By planning ahead and taking sensible precautions, you can do your part to minimize flood damage.

At Work For You

Through radio and TV, local governments do their best to keep residents who are likely to be affected well informed. When flooding is imminent, or has occurred, detailed instructions by municipal or provincial authorities will be given as the need arises.

Be Prepared For Flooding

Homeowners, renters and businesses can take the following precautions to help prevent or lessen the effects of flooding.

  • If necessary, have a professional inspect your roof for excessive snow loads.
  • Check your sump pump to see if it’s working.
  • Check to see if your eaves troughs, culverts and drainage ditches are clear.
  • Review your insurance policy to ensure you are adequately covered. Make sure you have sewer back-up insurance.
  • Assemble a family disaster survival kit.

If You Are At Risk

When authorities have advised you that flooding is imminent, take precautions to ensure that you, your family and property are protected.

  • Make sure your radio battery is in working order and listen to local instruction.
  • Have emergency food, water and medical supplies on hand (i.e. family disaster kit).
  • Move furniture, electrical appliances, livestock, equipment and other belongings to higher levels.
  • Remove or seal hazardous products like weed killers or insecticides.
  • Do not plug basement floor drains. Allow pressure to equalize to prevent structural damage to basement, floors and walls.
  • Have sandbags ready to use.


If you are advised by the authorities to evacuate your home, then do so. Ignoring the warning could jeopardize the safety of your family or those that might have to rescue you.

Before you leave, turn off power, water and gas.  Make arrangements for pets. Should time allow, leave a note informing others when you left and where you went. If you have a mailbox, leave the note there.

If you are evacuated, register with the reception centre so that you can be contacted and reunited with your family and loved ones.

On The Road…

  • Follow the routes specified by officials.  Don’t take short cuts. They could lead you to a blocked or dangerous area.
  • Travel very carefully, and only if absolutely necessary, through flooded areas. Roads may be washed away or covered with water. If you come across a barricade or a flooded road, take a different route.
  • Keep listening to the radio for information.
  • Emergency workers will be busy assisting people in flooded areas. Help them by staying out of the way.
  • If you must walk or drive in a flooded area, make sure you are on firm ground.
  • Watch out for power lines that are down.
  • If you are caught in fast rising waters and your car stalls, leave it and save yourself and your passengers.

Returning Home

Care should be taken when re-entering your home.  Flood water is heavily contaminated with sewage and other pollutants that can pose a serious health hazard.

  • Before entering a flooded building, check for foundation damage and make sure all porch roofs and overhangs are supported.
  • Use a flashlight to inspect for damage inside your house. Do not strike a match or use an open flame unless you know the gas has been turned off.
  • If your basement is full of water, drain in stages, about a third of the volume of water per day (draining too quickly can
    structurally damage your home).
  • Using a dry piece of wood, turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box.
  • Wear rubber gloves, rubber boots and protective eyewear when cleaning up.
  • Do not use wet appliances or motors unless they have been serviced by a qualified electrician.
  • Contact your local heating repair company to inspect your furnace and chimney.
  • Do not use your regular water supply or septic system until it has been inspected and declared safe to use.
  • Dispose of all contaminated food.
  • If children are present during the clean-up operations, supervise them closely.
  • For instructions on how to disinfect wells and cisterns, contact the Health Services
  • Check your newspaper or listen to your radio or television for information about help that may be provided.


Tornadoes occur in many parts of Canada between the months of May and September. They can cause tremendous destruction with wind speeds of up to 500 km/hour or more. In an average year in Canada, 80 tornadoes cause two deaths, 20 injuries, and tens of millions of dollars in property damage.
Although we can’t do anything to prevent a tornado, we can certainly be prepared!

It’s Up To You!

Despite advance warning, some people are unprepared for a tornado. Some may not hear the warning while others received the warning but did not believe a tornado would actually affect them. You can prepare by having a plan in place long before a tornado hits. You must make the decision to seek shelter before the storm arrives. It could be the most important decision you will ever make.

Warning Signals That A Tornado May Be Near

A severe thunderstorm is the driving force behind a tornado. Hot, humid weather combined with a cold front could be a sign that a tornado is brewing, and a funnel cloud hanging from a dark cloud may be visible before the tornado actually occurs.

A tornado may be accompanied by lightning, high winds and hail. Stay tuned to your local television and radio stations for updated storm information especially when weather conditions are right for generating a tornado. As well, it is important to know the difference between a tornado watch and a warning.

  • Tornado Watch: a tornado is possible in your area and you should be on alert.
  • Tornado Warning: a tornado has been sighted and you should take cover
  • If you are at home, go to the basement or take shelter in a small interior ground floor room such as a bathroom, closet or hallway. Failing that, protect yourself by taking shelter under a heavy table or desk.  In all cases, stay away from windows and outside walls and doors.
  • If you are at the office or in an apartment building, take shelter in an inner hallway or room, ideally in the basement or the ground floor. Do not use the elevator and stay away from windows. Avoid buildings such as gymnasiums, churches and auditoriums with freespan roofs. These roofs do not have supports in the middle and may collapse if a tornado hits them. If you are in one of these buildings take cover under a sturdy structure.
  • Do not get caught in a car or mobile home.  More than 50 per cent of all deaths from tornadoes happen in mobile homes. Take shelter elsewhere – such as a building with a strong foundation. If no shelter is available, then lie down in a ditch, away from the automobile or mobile home.
  • If you are driving and spot a tornado in the distance, try to get to a nearby shelter. If the tornado is close by, get out of your car and take cover in a low-lying area or even under an underpass on a freeway. Crawl right up the bank to just under the road of the overpass. If a tornado seems to be  standing still then it is either moving away  from you, or heading right for you

In all cases get as close to the ground as possible, protect your head and watch out for flying debris. Small objects such as sticks and straws can become lethal weapons when driven by a tornado’s winds.

After The Tornado

If your home or family is affected by the tornado, you should:

  • Monitor local media reports for advice and to find out where assistance is available.
  • Check for gas leaks in your home. If you smell gas, immediately open windows and doors; turn off the main gas valve.
  • Leave the house (post a note stating your  whereabouts)
  • Go to another location and notify the gas company, police or fire department.
  • Check for blown fuses and look for short- circuits in your home wiring and equipment – if a problem exists, call your utility company.
  • Drive carefully and watch for debris, damaged bridges/roads and dangling wires.
  • Report any emergency situations to the local police or fire department.
  • Notify your insurance agent or broker if your property is damaged.
  • Check with your local government if you need counseling to help cope with the emotional trauma associated with disasters.

Tornado Myths

Contrary to popular belief:

  • Areas near rivers, lakes, and mountains are NOT safe from tornadoes.
  • The low pressure with a tornado does NOT cause buildings to ‘explode’ as the tornado passes overhead.
  • Open windows do NOT equalize pressure and minimize damage.
  • You are NOT safe if you are downtown

Hazardous Spills

Your response to an emergency involving a hazardous spill or fire resulting from the spill should be the same as in all other emergencies except for the following:

If the Emergency Involves Smoke and Fumes

  • Check the wind direction. Observe the path of the smoke or fumes and whether they are rising or following the ground.
  • Move out of the path of smoke or fumes to seek shelter indoors. DO NOT attempt to go through smoke or fumes.
  • If caught in smoke or fumes, REMEMBER A CROSSWIND PATH (at a right angle to the wind) IS THE SHORTEST, FASTEST PATH TO ESCAPE.
  • Seek shelter in a house or automobile.  This can reduce your exposure to 1/10 of that outdoors.
  • Turn on and monitor your radio or television.
  • Remain indoors. Close all doors and windows. Shut down air conditioners, fans, etc. which bring in outside air? Close   all interior doors so that you ‘compartmentalize’ your house. These simple measures plus that of placing wet towels under the doors would do much to prevent the entry of smoke and/or fumes into the relatively airtight homes of today.

If Fumes Threaten You Personally cover your mouth and nose with a wet towel or handkerchief.

And Remember…

Evacuate only if told to do so. In the short term, staying indoors with the house closed up is the most effective action you can take.

Frostbite is defined as the freezing of a body part due to prolonged exposure to low temperature, wind and/or moisture.

Signs and Symptoms
The nose, cheeks, ears, fingers and toes are usually frostbitten first. Initial signs occur when the skin appears red, pale or white and may feel numb. If the frostbite worsens, dark blue or black areas will develop under the skin.

If frostbite is suspected, cover the area immediately. Do not rub or massage the skin. This can cause tissue damage. If possible, gently place the affected area in warm – not hot – water until it is pink, warm and no longer numb. Apply a sterile dressing to the area. Put the dressing between fingers and toes if they are affected. Medical attention is recommended for frostbite.

To prevent frostbite, always wear hats, mittens and scarves. Avoid tight-fitting boots because they make the feet more vulnerable to frostbite. Wear several thin layers of warm, dry clothing.


Hypothermia is defined as a condition where a person’s body temperature falls below 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of hypothermia may be more dangerous than seems evident.

  • Falling core body temperature can lead to fatigue, lethargy/apathy, clumsiness, mental confusion, slurred speech, shivering, slowed breathing, slowed heartbeat, low blood pressure and eventually death.
  • Cold hands, feet and abdomen
  • Blueness or puffiness of skin


Anyone with suspected hypothermia must be transported to the emergency room of the nearest hospital as soon as possible. Prevent further heat loss with dry, warm clothes and blankets. Warm fluids by mouth may also be given (avoid alcohol and caffeine).


Wear many layers of clothing (three or more).  Wearing a hat will help you to conserve as much as 40% of your body heat. Eat lots of energy food.  Drink plenty of fluids and hot drinks (not alcohol).  Avoid getting wet. Keep moving the arms and legs to generate heat.

Helping The Helpers In A Disaster

Heavy workloads, long hours and the pressure to accomplish difficult tasks quickly are inherent in emergency and disaster work. Occupational stresses can arise from:

  • Time pressures – especially in rescue and  emergency medical situations in which a time limit exists in the victim’s chance for  survival.
  • Responsibility overload – especially for  those with supervisory or command responsibility, a multitude of tasks, all with high priority, may need to be done simultaneously with no one to whom they can be delegated.
  • Physical demands – rescue work requires  physical exertion, strength, stamina and  endurance where hours are long and work conditions adverse.
  • Mental demands – the work requires good  judgement, clarity of thinking, and the ability to make decisions in chaotic  situations.
  • Emotional demands – workers are exposed  to traumatic stimuli and victims under stress. They must keep their emotions  under control in order to function.  They must make painful, life-or-death decisions and  work in the presence of  anger or fear.
  • Work area – this can range from low- pressure, such as a staging area, to high pressure, such as a triage area or morgue.
  • Limited resources – lack of personnel, equipment, funding.
  • High expectations – from the public and  from rescue response personnel themselves.
  • Environmental stress ­ extreme weather  conditions, environmental hazards  (e.g. toxic fumes).

Minimizing Stress Effects During A Disaster

The following guidelines are suggested for minimizing stress effects among emergency response workers and maximizing performance during a
disaster operation:

  • Staff location – Limit worker’s time in high- stress assignments such as body removal or  morgue work to two hours at a time. Workers involved in providing grief  support to loved ones at a morgue or hospital or who  are assigned to telephone  help lines should be limited to four hours  of work at a time.
  • Rest periods – Provide 15 to 30 minutes  rest periods every two hours. Breaks from  the action will help decrease the possibility  of injury, fatigue and emotional strain.
  • Comfort and care – On breaks, try to  provide workers with the following: A  place to sit or lie down away from the scene; warm food, high protein snacks and  beverages, preferably fruit juice; shelter   from weather; dry clothes; an opportunity  to talk about their feelings with co-workers  or a chaplain.

Critical Incident Stress Debriefing

Critical Incident Stress is defined as ‘Any situation faced by emergency service personnel that causes them to experience usually strong emotional reactions which have the potential to interfere  with their ability at the scene or later.’

A Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) is a structured meeting of emergency response personnel involved in a critical incident and facilitated by a trained (CISD) team. The purpose of the  debriefing is to:

  • Lessen the impact of major events on emergency service personnel.
  • Accelerate normal recovery in normal people who are experiencing normal stress after experiencing highly abnormal events or incidents.

The format for the meeting, in general, deals with what happened to the individuals during the event, how they felt at the scene, and what their reactions were afterwards. In addition to providing a  supportive environment that allows emergency workers to deal with stress reaction, the debriefing provides education about acute stress and its normal effects; the participants learn specific stress management techniques for  coping with their responses.

CISD meetings should optimally occur within 72 hours of the incident but can be done any time after the event. However, the greater the delay
between the incident and the debriefing, the greater the likelihood of delayed or prolonged stress  reactions.