Being prepared during an emergency

An emergency or disaster can happen at any time. You can be sure that the Town of Tecumseh and its partners will work together to respond to the situation. Our public safety and health officials, thanks to the planning of our Community Emergency Management Coordinator, are prepared to respond quickly to protect you and your family.

Citizens and businesses of our community also have roles to play. By doing a few basic things to prepare yourself, your family, and your business, you can help us become a prepared community. The more planning you do before a disaster, the better you will be able to cope during an emergency.

Whether to protect your family or your business, you need to take some time to consider the risks that we all face and take the right measures to protect what is important to you. Families can be prepared by planning and working together as a team. Before you begin developing your family emergency and disaster plan, take a few moments to consider the possible emergencies or potential disasters you could face. These situations and events could affect you, your family or your community. Your best protection in any emergency or disaster is in knowing what to do.

In the Town of Tecumseh, it is a good idea to be prepared for these kinds of emergencies:

  • Power outages
  • Severe winter storms
  • Floods
  • Heat emergencies
  • Contagious disease outbreaks
  • Hazardous chemical spills

Talk to your family members to get their help to create an action plan you and your family can follow to help reduce the possible effects of any emergency.

Involve all family members in the planning process, so that they know what to expect, as well as what to do when an emergency strikes. Regularly talk about and update your plan.

Gather supplies you might need if stuck at home or evacuated due to an emergency. Items you will need in an evacuation should be stored in an easy-to-use container such as a backpack or duffle bag.

The basics

Not everyone may be able to have a full emergency kit, but everyone should try to have the basics on hand:

  • Have at least two meeting places other than your home where your family knows to meet in case of an emergency or disaster
  • Keep copies of your important documents (medication prescriptions, identification, insurance, addresses) in a safe place other than your home
  • Keep a small amount of cash in small bills and /or coins on hand
  • Own flashlight and batteries
  • Always have seasonal clothing and water in your backpack or car
  • Have some form of communication available, such as a radio or smart phone (with power cord)
  • Invest in a basic first aid kit

Personal emergency preparedness

You should be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for up to three days in the event of an emergency or disaster. It is a good idea to have an emergency kit for both your home and vehicle. An emergency kit should contain at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and at least four litres of water per day per person.

Items to include in an emergency kit

  • Supply of water purification tablets
  • Canned food: soups, stews, baked beans, meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, fruit
  • Crackers and biscuits
  • Peanut butter and jam
  • Syrup or honey
  • Salt, pepper and sugar
  • Beverage powders, instant coffee and tea
  • Cutlery, disposable cups and plates
  • Manual can opener and bottle opener
  • Fuel stove and fuel
  • Candles and waterproof matches
  • Plastic garbage bags
  • Pocket knife or multi-tool
  • Flashlight and batteries or crank radio
  • First aid supplies
  • Copies of important documents
  • Clothing and footwear
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Personal hygiene supplies
  • Whistle
  • cash

Additional items your family may need

  • Diapers, bottled milk or powdered milk, formula and baby food
  • One week supply of any required medications and copies of prescriptions
  • Extra eye glasses
  • Batteries for medical appliances
  • Three day supply of food and water for your pets
  • Any medications that your pets may require

Town of Tecumseh emergency management

The Town of Tecumseh has plans and programs to protect the community during emergencies. In partnership with local first responders, health organizations, social services, utilities and volunteer groups, the Town is always working to be prepared. We do this through testing, training and updating the emergency plans and programs to make sure we are ready for any emergency that happens in our community.

No matter how prepared we are, we cannot predict an emergency or disaster, but we can all take steps to reduce the impact of any situation that comes our way.

Section 2.1 of the Provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) requires municipalities to develop and implement an emergency management program and adopt it through a by-law. The Town of Tecumseh has a formal Community Emergency Management Program to deal with major emergencies.

Read the Town of Tecumseh's emergency plan.

In an emergency

During an emergency, knowing what to do will help you stay safe and in better control of the situation.

Emergency shelter-in-place

If there is an emergency from a spill or a fire from a hazardous spill, you may be evacuated or be advised to “shelter-in-place”.

“Shelter-in-place” means that you must stay indoors when there is hazardous material in the air. You should move out of the way of smoke or fumes and stay indoors. DO NOT go through smoke or fumes. Staying inside a building or vehicle can reduce your exposure to 10 percent. Here's how to stay safe during a spill or fumes:

  • Close all doors and windows tightly
  • Shut off air conditioners, fans, and close all dampers, etc. which bring air into your home from the outside
  • Do not use kitchen fans, bathroom vents, clothes dryers, fireplaces, etc.
  • Close all inside doors
  • Place wet towels under doors to keep smoke and fumes out of your home
  • If you smell or see fumes, cover your mouth and nose with a wet handkerchief or towel
  • Monitor your radio or television for additional information or instructions

Leave your home and evacuate only if you are told to do so and stay away from any spills or fires.

Listen to the advice of local officials on the radio or television to know what steps you will need to take to protect yourself.

Emergency evacuation

During some emergencies, it may be necessary to evacuate the emergency and surrounding area. An emergency evacuation centre may be set up to offer shelter and food to people affected by the emergency. If there were a need to be evacuated, you would be notified by media announcements, social media or emergency workers.

  • Keep phone lines open for use by emergency workers
  • Listen to local radio, television or social media for emergency instructions and up to date information
  • Assemble the food and supplies you plan to take with you, referring to lists of family medications, records and irreplaceable items
  • Follow instructions of your local authority about whether to switch off utility services and gas and propane appliances
  • Follow instructions and advice of your municipal government; if you are asked to evacuate, do so quickly
  • Travel only routes that are specified or recommended by your local municipality

A reception centre may be set up to offer food, shelter and information to people affected by an emergency. If you are going somewhere other than the reception centre, let the reception centre or municipal government know of your location.

After an emergency

Right after an emergency, you may feel worried, confused and disoriented. These are perfectly normal reactions. If you are informed and prepared, you will be able to recover more quickly and you can help others do the same.

The following steps will help you get back on track:

Help the injured

Ensure to help anyone who is hurt, and call 911 if necessary.

Check on your neighbours

It is very important to check on your neighbours, especially the elderly or people with disabilities.

Be informed

Listen to your local radio station or check local websites and social media feeds for updates.

Try not to use the telephone

Do not use the telephone unless it is necessary, as emergency crews will need all available lines. For non-emergency information, call 211 instead of 911.

Check your home

Carefully check for damage to your home, and do not enter any structure you believe is not safe, structurally unsound or contains a hazard or harmful materials.

Remember the following points:

  • Make sure to check for fires and fire hazards
  • Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the hot water heater. If you smell gas, turn off the main gas valve, open windows and get everyone outside quickly. For information on safe steps for shutting off the main gas valve, contact your gas company.
  • Use a flashlight; never light matches or turn on the electrical switches if you suspect damage or smell gas.
  • Ensure you shut off any other damaged utilities. For information on safe steps for turning off utilities, contact your utility provider.
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline and other flammable liquids right away, and wear protective clothing. For major spills or leaks, call for professional help.
  • Take care to confine or secure your pets to keep them safe.

Remember, if you turn off the gas, a professional from the gas company should turn it back on.

Prepare for specific emergencies

Not all emergencies are the same. Look through our summary guides below to prepare for specific emergencies.

Power outage

Turn everything off

  • Turn the thermostat(s) down to minimum and turn off all appliances, electronic equipment and tools to prevent injury, damage to equipment and fire. Power can be restored more easily when the system is not overloaded.
  • Do not use barbeques or camping heating equipment or home generators indoors

Use a flashlight

  • If you must use candles, be sure to use proper candleholders
  • Never leave lit candles unattended

Generators

Generators are an option for backup electricity, however:

  • They should never be used indoors
  • They require frequent maintenance (including frequent oil changes)
  • They must be installed and connected to your main panel (not directly to your wiring system) by a qualified electrician. Get any such installation inspected by the Electrical Safety Authority

Alert: Using food when the power goes off

  • First, use fresh foods, including those in the refrigerator
  • Second, use frozen foods from the freezer. To minimize the number of times you open the fridge and freezer doors, post a list of contents on the outside of the door
  • If you have frozen water containers in the freezer, move them into the fridge to help keep the temperature cool
  • Third, use canned and dried foods

Alert: Cooking without electricity

  • Never use cooking equipment meant for outdoor use inside your home. This could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Before using a fireplace after an earthquake, have your chimney and flue inspected for cracks. Sparks may escape through a small crack and start a fire in the wall or attic

Severe winter storm

Severe winter storms can cause widespread damage and disruption. Heavy snow often causes the slowing or shutting down of public transit, car accidents and stranded vehicles. When a winter storm has strong winds and extreme cold, snow can isolate entire communities. Bitter cold and severe winter storms kill more than 100 people in Canada every year. That is more than the number of Canadians killed by tornadoes, thunderstorms, lightning, floods, hurricanes and heat waves combined.

Ice storms are often winter's worst danger. The severity of ice storms depends on the buildup of ice, the length of the event, and the location and size of the area affected.

During a blizzard, winds can blow snow into drifts that can bury people, animals and belongings. The weight of heavy snowfall can also cause the collapse of buildings. A blizzard that lasts a long time may form whiteouts, where so much snow falls it is hard to tell the ground from the sky.

If you are indoors

  • It is crucial to stay indoors, and only travel when absolutely necessary
  • It is easier to keep a smaller space warm. During an ice storm, close of most rooms but a few, to keep warm
  • Listen for radio and television broadcasts of storm warnings to stay informed

If you are outdoors

  • If you have to go outdoors, prepare yourself against the cold and find shelter as soon as possible. Make sure you have the right clothing to protect you from the storm. Several lightweight layers give more warmth than a single heavy coat. Try thermal underwear, a turtle neck, a medium sweater, and a jacket
  • It is important to wear a hat to prevent heat loss, and cover your mouth to protect your lungs. It is also critical to wear gloves and hiking or snow boots
  • Always tell someone where you are going, how you are getting there and when you think you will arrive. This way, someone will know where you might be if you are stranded.

If you are in a vehicle

  • Travel can be dangerous during a severe storm
  • If you hear news of a blizzard warning, find shelter as soon as possible
  • If you are stuck in your car, stay with the vehicle
  • Provide a signal to rescuers such as a bright cloth tied onto the vehicle
  • Keep the window open a crack for fresh air
  • Stay warm by moving your arms and legs, keeping the blood flowing
  • Start the car engine once every hour, and use the heater for ten minutes
  • When the engine is running, leave the dome light on
  • Keep the exhaust pipe clear so that fumes can escape
  • Always tell someone where you are going, how you are getting there, and when you think you will arrive

Severe lightning storm

Thunderstorms bring a wide range of threats. These include hail, lightning, strong winds and heavy rainfall. All of these dangers can result in property damage, injuries or deaths. React right away when you first see lightning, hear thunder or are given some other warning. There are a few simple precautions that you can take to protect yourself

If you are indoors

  • If you are inside a building, stay inside
  • Large hailstones can shatter windows, so stay away from windows, skylights and doors
  • Unplug all televisions, radios, toasters and other electrical appliances
  • Do not use landline phones during the storm and do not touch metal objects like radiators, stoves, metal pipes, sinks or other potential conductors of electricity
  • If the storm is a safe distance away, close your drapes, blinds or window shades to prevent the wind from blowing broken glass inside, and consider unplugging televisions and other electrical appliances that do not have surge protectors

If you are outdoors

  • It is critical to find shelter right away. Go to a building or vehicle; large enclosed structures tend to be much safer than smaller open structures
  • Stay away from water, high ground, isolated trees, picnic shelters and open spaces
  • If lightning strikes when you are outside, crouch down and put your feet together to reduce your contact with the ground. Do not lie down
  • Take care to keep away from telephone and power lines, fences trees and hilltops
  • Ensure that you get off bicycles, motorcycles, golf carts and tractors

If you are in a vehicle

  • Stop the car safely at the side of the road and stay there
  • Completely close all windows and do not touch any metal objects
  • Do not park near power line or trees which could fall

Flood or flash flood

Flash floods happen when intense thunderstorms drop a large amount of water in a short time. Flash floods occur with little or no warning. When there is flooding in a city, streets can become swiftly-moving rivers and basements can fill with water

If you are indoors

  • Turn off your basement furnace
  • Make sure all basement windows are closed
  • Turn power off to circuit breaker or fuse box
  • If the area is wet, stand on a dry board and shut off power with a dry wooden stick
  • Move all your furniture, electrical appliances and other belongings to higher levels
  • Remove any toilet bowl water and plug basement sewer drains and toilet connection
  • Turn on a battery-operated radio or television and listen for the latest emergency information
  • If told to leave or evacuate, get your disaster safety kit and go immediately to the designated shelter. Be sure to follow the recommended evacuation routes. Never take shortcuts as these roads may be flooded

If you are outdoors

  • Always make sure you are on firm ground whether you are walking or driving
  • Quickly move towards high ground, but stay away from flood areas
  • Climb to high ground in a very visible and safe area
  • Never cross floodwaters; water even as shallow as 15 cm could sweep you off your feet

If you are in a vehicle

  • Travel carefully and only if absolutely needed through flooded areas where roads may be washed away
  • If you come across a flooded road, take a different route as the fast-moving water could sweep you away
  • If you become caught in fast-rising floodwaters and your vehicle stalls, leave it and move yourself and your passengers to higher ground
  • Avoid remaining in your car. As little as 60 cm of water can carry a car away

Tornado

Tornadoes result from hot, humid weather meeting a cold front. With these conditions, a tornado could be imminent. A funnel cloud hanging from a dark cloud may appear before the tornado actually occurs. A tornado may be accompanied by lightning, high winds and hail.

If you are indoors

  • Go to the basement, storm cellar or the lowest level of the home right away. If there is no basement, go to a closet, a bathroom or under a staircase
  • Stay away from all windows and doors
  • Get under a sturdy piece of furniture, such as a workbench or a heavy table. Hold onto the furniture with one hand and use the other arm to protect your head and neck from falling or flying objects
  • If you are in an office or apartment building, take cover in an inner hallway or room, ideally in the basement or on the ground floor. Do not use the elevator and stay away from windows
  • Avoid being in the corners of the room because they attract debris
  • If in a mobile home, get out and find cover somewhere else

If you are outdoors

  • If you can, get inside a building
  • If there is no shelter, lie down in a ditch or ravine
  • Use your arms to protect your head and neck
  • Stay away from bridges and overpasses

If you are in a vehicle

  • Never try to out-drive a tornado. Tornadoes can change direction suddenly and could lift up the car and toss it through the air
  • Immediately stop the car and turn off the engine
  • Get out of the car and seek cover in a building, ditch or ravine

Infectious disease outbreak

In case of a respiratory (airborne) infectious disease outbreak, the most important thing to do is to listen to the radio and follow recommendations to prevent and contain the spread of the disease.

Respiratory infections are generally spread by small droplets in the air that can stay on surfaces. To prevent the spread:

  • Cover your mouth when you cough/sneeze (with a tissue or into your elbow)
  • Wash your hands often, or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner
  • Limit contact with others
  • When contact is necessary, keep at least a metre away from others
  • Clean surfaces and contact points (contact points include door knobs, counters and other high traffic areas)