What do hurricanes, earthquakes, and flooding have in common? They are all natural hazards that occur across Canada. We see stories in the news on natural hazards all the time—the wildfires that rocked British Columbia for the past two years, the six tornados that hit Ottawa-Gatineau, and flooding in Atlantic Canada to name a few. The number of natural emergencies are increasing, and it’s important be prepared for them!
While Emergency Preparedness Week lasts only from May 5–11, 2019, it is important to be mindful and ready at all times of the year.
Many of the skills I learned during Scouts, like making a first aid kit and creating fire escape plans, help me feel confident in my ability to act quickly in a natural emergency.
No matter where you live in Canada, you can complete some basic preparation tasks. Firstly, create an emergency survival kit, including: first aid kit, extra batteries, non-perishable food, and extra clothes. Ensure all family members know what is in the survival kit, and where it’s located.
Next, create and practice an emergency plan. Lastly, keep an eye on the news and weather channel or your phone’s AlertReady emergency siren to hear if a natural hazard coming your way.
Catch our Safe Scouting tip on Emergency Preparedness to help you be ready for any situation.
Western Canada faces a few major natural hazards, but wildfires are increasingly common. Wildfires occur in areas surrounded by grasslands, forests or brush, and tend to be caused by humans or lightning.
To be emergency ready for wildfires, keep your emergency kit packed and in an accessible place. Practice fire drills and fire safety techniques with your family and have a house emergency escape plan in place. Also, ensure at least one family member is trained in first aid and knows how to use a first aid kit so they can help any injured people. It’s recommended to take a Standard Level First Aid course.
My mother and I always attend the courses together so that we can help each other learn and lean on each other during an emergency. Learning with friends or family is a great way to share emergency readiness.
Central Canada experiences wildfires as well as other natural hazards. Tornados have recently been more common, with six occurring in the Ottawa-Gatineau area in 2018. Warning signs for tornadoes include dark skies and a funnel cloud at the base of a thundercloud. If you live in a high-risk zone for tornados, ensure your emergency kit is located in the basement or ground floor of the house.
The best course of action to take during a tornado is to go to the basement or take shelter in a small interior ground floor room. The same applies when in a building or other area, as taking shelter in a location closest to the ground will be the safest. Get prepared for tornados.
Atlantic Canada experiences violent storms and a lot of flooding. The basics for preparing for a flood include getting important documents, your emergency kit, belongings, and other electronics above ground level. The former two should be stored above ground level at all times and the latter two should be moved there if a flood is imminent. If you reside in an area that experiences flooding often, you can get prepared for potential floods with weather protection sealant and examine the drainage around your house to ensure it is optimal.
Natural hazards can happen anywhere at any time. Being prepared includes knowing what can occur in your area and taking the right precautions or training to feel confident in your ability to handle these challenges. Many of the skills I learned during Scouts, like making a first aid kit and creating fire escape plans, help me feel confident in my ability to act quickly in a natural emergency. To learn more about natural hazards—where they occur in Canada and how to be prepared before, during, and after—check out the General Index of Natural Hazards and the Canadian Disaster Database.