Make a plan

Disasters and emergencies can happen when family members aren’t together.

How a family emergency plan helps

You will all know what to do and who to contact.

In a serious emergency, things like phone lines, power or water may not work. Your family plan helps you manage until services are restored.

Prepare your family plan:

Assess the hazards

What kinds of disasters could happen in your home and region?

 Make plans to get out

  • Find two exits to the outside from every bedroom in your home.
  • Set two family meeting places: one outside your home and one outside your neighbourhood, within a few blocks of your home.

Communicating in a disaster

  • There is no way to know which communications will work after a disaster.  Consider these points as you plan:
    • Immediately after a disaster, phone systems may be congested. To ensure life safety calls get through keep calls brief and limit phone use where you can.
    • If you have a landline, make sure that you have at least one phone that does not require power and have other methods to communicate with family.
    • Keep your cell phone charged.  Do not wait for it to be dead before charging.  To save power, turn off extra features like bluetooth, location services and mobile data.  Consider getting a battery charging pack for your electronic devices.
    • Cellular networks may be damaged or have reduced service after an emergency.  Calls and text message deliveries may be delayed and you may not have access to data services.
    • Access to the internet may be disrupted or slow because of outages, high demand for service or loss of power, including the power to your computer.
  • Have an out-of-area contact that all members of your family will check-in with after a disaster.  Ideally this person would be located somewhere not impacted by the same disaster as you (e.g. out-of-province).  This person acts as a central point for everyone to check-in with and relay messages so that you do not have to call everyone to find out their condition and location.

Consider the following before an emergency

  • Prepare emergency kits.
  • Make sure everyone knows where they are.
  • Teach family members how to turn off utilities, use a fire extinguisher, and call 9-1-1.

Take care of loved ones

  • Children or older adults may have special needs. Plan for them.
  • Plan for your pets.
  • Assign other people to pick up your children if you can’t and ensure the school knows they have the authority to do so.
  • Identify someone out-of-area to be your family contact.
  • Save copies of documents like birth certificates, prescriptions and home insurance on a password protected memory stick. You can also photocopy them.

Learn the best ways to prepare

Shelter in Place

This means to take action by going or remaining safely indoors during an outdoor release of a hazardous substance. Sheltering-in-place [PDF - 141 KB] is the most effective response during the first few hours of a substance release where the public would be a higher risk outdoors. The goal is to reduce the movement of air into and out of a building until the hazard has passed or other emergency actions can be taken. 

A decision to shelter in place is made to save lives.