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During an Emergency


In an emergency, Halton Region and first responders will be working to ensure the safety of residents, the environment and property.

Shelter in place

Shelter-in-place is the practice of finding a safe location indoors (home, place of employment, automobile or other location) and staying there for the duration of an emergency or told to evacuate.

You may be asked to shelter-in-place during an environmental hazard, severe weather event or an event that could harm the public.

  • DO NOT attempt to pass through smoke or fumes.
  • Move out of the path of smoke or fumes and seek shelter inside a house or automobile and remain indoors. (This can reduce your exposure to 1/10 of that outdoors.).
  • Close all exterior and interior doors so that you compartmentalize” your house. Wet towels under the doors will help prevent smoke or fumes from entering your house. If fumes do threaten you, cover your mouth and nose with a wet handkerchief or towel.
  • Close windows and use duct tape to cover window openings (you may want to have pre-cut pieces of plastic to cover windows).
  • Shut down air conditioners, fans, etc., which bring in outside air. Do not use bathroom vents, kitchen vents, fireplaces (close dampers) or clothes dryers.
  • Set thermostats so that air conditioners, furnaces and hot water heaters will not come on.
  • Monitor your radio, television or Internet for additional information, pre and post-incident advice and instructions as to when it is safe to open windows and doors and go outside.
  • Only evacuate if told to do so by first responders; staying indoors with the house closed up is the most effective action you can take.
  • If travelling, stay away from the emergency area, as you may hinder rescue and recovery efforts.
  • Responsible family members should:
    • Have a roll of duct tape.
    • Save old towels for use under doors.
    • Know how to shut down the air conditioner.
    • Know how to close dampers.
    • Be able to locate and identify all shut-off switches for heating and ventilating equipment in the home.
    • Prepare Shelter-in-Place/Stay at Home Kits.


Evacuation is the planned and supervised movement of people, animals and/or materials from dangerous or potentially dangerous areas to a safe place.
Source: Public Safety Canada, Emergency Management Vocabulary (external PDF)

Responsible family members should:

  • Know how to shut off your home’s gas and hydro
  • Keep vehicles fuelled at all times
  • Prepare/update Car Survival Kits and Family Emergency Kits and advise other family members of their location
  • Always have your cell phone charged and in a location where it is easy to grab if you must evacuate your home

When evacuating, residents must remember to:

  • Not assume an evacuation will last a few hours, take your emergency kit with you
  • Lock all windows and doors
  • Turn off power, water and gas (if advised)
  • Check-in on and assist seniors and those with special needs if they require assistance
  • Take pets when leaving home
  • Leave a note on the front door stating when you left and intended destination
  • Follow instructions from officials and evacuate promptly if asked; travel only on routes specified by officials as a shortcut could take you to a blocked or dangerous area
  • Keep phone lines open for use by emergency workers
  • Monitor local radio, television and Internet for emergency instructions and current information
  • If you are going somewhere other than an evacuation centre, advise the centre, local government or police of your whereabouts
  • Don’t forget to bring your family emergency kit!

On-the-road emergency

Emergencies can happen anytime on the road, it’s important for drivers and passengers to be prepared and know what to do in an emergency

Make sure to store a car survival kit in your vehicle, ensure other family members and drivers are aware of its location. Don’t forget to keep your vehicle service and the gas tank half full.

While you’re driving you must remember to:

  • Follow the routes specific by officials as shortcuts could take you to a blocked or dangerous area.
  • Watch for fallen power lines, debris, damaged bridges/roads and dangling wires
  • Always pull to the right for emergency vehicles when you hear the siren or see their lights flashing.
  • If the traffic signal is not functioning at an intersection, the first vehicle to arrive and stop has the right-of-way. If two or more vehicles stop at the same time, then the vehicle on the right has the right-of way.

If you’re driving and come across a flooded road:

  • Travel very carefully and only if absolutely necessary through flooded areas. Roads may be washed away or covered with water. Make sure you are on firm ground.
  • If you come across a barricade or a flooded road, take a different route.
  • If you are caught in fast-rising waters and your car stalls, leave it and save yourself and your passengers.

In an emergency situation where you must pull off the road:

  • Pull your vehicle completely off the road
  • Turn your emergency flashers on
  • Lock all doors and remain in the vehicle
  • Open a window 1 cm for ventilation
  • If someone other than a first responder approaches your vehicle, do not open the windows further or unlock the doors

Food safety

Halton Region provides updates on food safety to protect residents against food-related illnesses. Learn about food-related illnesses, safe food handling practices, food recalls, allergy alerts and more.

  • Ensure you have a thermometer for every refrigerator and freezer in your home. You can purchase them at the local department or hardware store.
    • Thermometers are necessary in order to monitor the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer on a regular basis and especially during the power outage
  • Proper refrigeration temperature is 4°C (40°F) or less and proper freezer temperature is -18°C (0°F) or less
  • Perishable foods are considered safe as long as they are kept at 4°C or less. Perishable foods that rise about 4°C for more than 2 hours need to be discarded
  • If your freezer is completely full, the food inside it should be safe for up to 48 hours. If it is half-full, the food inside should be safe for up to 24 hours
  • NEVER taste food to determine its safety! Foods contaminated with harmful microorganisms do not smell or taste bad. When it doubt, throw it out!
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible throughout the power outage to preserve proper cold holding temperatures
  • Ice can be placed around foods in the refrigerator in order to maintain cold temperatures
  • Be careful placing foods outside during the winter. Food can thaw under the sun’s rays or it can become contaminated by animals. Use a cooler or closed container and a thermometer to make sure the temperature remains under 4°C (40°F)
  • Foods that have been above 4°C (40°F) for more than 2 hours must be discarded
  • Frozen foods that are 4°C or less, or still contain ice crystals can be refrozen
  • If raw food has leaked during thawing it is necessary to properly clean and sanitize all the areas the food has touched

Safe water

Halton Region’s Public Works department maintains and tests municipal water supplies in our communities. However, private wells in rural areas are the responsibility of the homeowner. Learn how to keep your drinking water safe.

  • If you use a water purification system to treat your well water (i.e., UV light, chlorinator, filters, etc.) the system may not be operational without power. This means your water could be unsafe to use

If your water is not considered safe, use bottled water or boil/treat any water used for:

  • Drinking
  • Cooking
  • Washing dishes
  • Brushing teeth
  • Washing and preparing food
  • Washing your hands
  • Making ice
  • Preparing baby formula

Contact Halton Region for information on how to treat water for use