Public safety begins at home. Everyone should be equipped to take care of themselves and their families for up to three days in the event of an emergency or disaster. It could take that long to clear roads due to a severe storm.
Communities Respond First
Most emergencies are resolved at the community level as emergency response organizations (including police, fire, emergency health services, and public works) routinely deal with them. If a major emergency occurs, the Community Emergency Control Group will meet in the Community Emergency Operations to implement the emergency response plan.
The Mayor may declare an emergency if required (the Acting Mayor may assume all his/her powers and duties for the emergency in the Mayor's absence). The Mayor, Council, or Premier may declare an emergency is terminated. Assistance agreements with neighbouring communities and other agencies ensure that backup for police, fire and other support is readily available in an emergency. If additional supplies, equipment or other resources are required, they may be requested from the Province through Emergency Management Ontario.
Province Steps In
When an incident is reported to via Emergency Management Ontario, it is monitored and the duty team remains in direct communication with the affected community. If a higher level of response is required, appropriate provincial ministries and federal departments will be notified. In very serious emergencies, the Premier or a Minister may assume overall control of the situation, including the declaration of a provincial emergency.
Federal Government Assistance
The federal government intervenes only when requested or when the emergency clearly impacts areas of federal jurisdiction, such as a war emergency.
Communication During an Emergency
During an emergency, warnings/updates/information may be broadcast on local radio and television stations, delivered personally by emergency personnel, or telephoned by automated dialing equipment.
A crank-operated or a battery-powered radio with a supply of fresh batteries is an essential item during a power outage or evacuation. Weather information can be obtained on the television Weather Channel or the Weatheradio network at 162.4 MHz (requires special VHF-FM radio).
In addition to broadcasting weather information, the Weather Network will assist in warning communities about non-weather related threats and hazards in their communities. When a community advises the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre about a local situation and requests that an alert be broadcast for their community, an alert will be sent to the Weather Channel for immediate broadcast after confirmation there is an imminent threat to life or security of a community, or whenever a community is endangered. Warning messages can be targeted to any geographic region in Ontario deemed to be at risk and repeated for as long as the emergency situation exists.
Evacuation is a protective action that may be ordered by emergency officials when there is a significant threat posed to people in a specific area or community. Evacuation could be caused by natural, accidental or human-caused disasters such as a hazardous material release, nuclear incident or severe weather. If ordered to evacuate:
- Follow your emergency plan
- Provide your out-of-town contact with details of your situation and when and where you are going.
- If you have time, leave a note indicating when you left and where you are.
- Shut off water, gas, and electricity only if officials tell you to.
- Lock your home.
Instead of evacuating an area threatened by an emergency, such as the accidental or intentional release of dangerous goods into the atmosphere, people may be instructed to shelter-in-place. If ordered to Shelter-in-place:
- Remain inside and protect yourself from exposure to outside air.
- Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
- Close fireplace dampers and turn off all fans, heating and air-conditioning systems.
- Go to an interior room that's above ground level (if possible, one without windows).
- Seal all cracks around doors and any vents into the room with duct or other wide tape.