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Preparing for Emergencies


Emergencies can happen at any time and being prepared can help protect you, your household, and the community. Follow these three steps to find out how you can be prepared.

Step One: Know the Risks

Halton Region is vulnerable to a variety of natural, technological and human-caused hazards. Make sure you and your family know what the hazards and risks are in the area you live.

Top risks in Halton Region include:

  • Freezing rain/ice storm
  • Tornado
  • Flood – urban
  • Critical infrastructure failure – water main network, pumping stations
  • Hazardous spills
  • Energy emergency (supply) – power outages
  • Flood – riverine
  • Extreme temperatures – cold wave, heat wave
  • Human health epidemics
  • Windstorm
  • Thunderstorms
  • Lightning
  • Transportation emergency – rail
  • Transportation emergency – road

Step Two: Make a Plan

It is important that you and your family know what to do if an emergency of any size happens, especially if you are not together.

  • Keep emergency contacts nearby and include contacts that are geographically separated from you.
  • Develop an escape plan (external link) by drawing a floor plan for each level of your residence.
    • Use a black or blue pen to draw the location of doors, windows, stairways and large furniture for each level.
    • Indicate the location of emergency supplies (Family Emergency Kit), fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, collapsible ladders, first-aid kits and utility shut-off points.
    • Use a coloured pen to draw a broken line charting at least 2 escape routes from each room.
    • Mark a place outside of the home where household members should meet in case of an emergency.
    • Keep your home escape plan visible where babysitters and children can see it.
  • If you live in an apartment, know the location of the emergency exits. Ensure your family knows where the fire alarm is and explain when and how to use it.
    • In a fire or other emergency, never use the elevators as they may not work if the power goes out.
  • If you or a family member live in a high-rise and may require assistance during an evacuation, you must notify the property manager to ensure they are aware.
  • If you live alone, develop a plan and talk to friends, family and neighbours about your plan.

Practice emergency evacuation drills with all household members at least twice per year.

  • Ensure you are aware of your workplace’s safety and security procedures.
  • Read your workplace’s fire safety plan. Identify designated fire wardens, locate and make note of the emergency exits in your building and identify designated assembly locations.
  • Confirm your children’s daycare or school has updated emergency contact information
  • Provide your children with emergency contact information in their backpacks for use in case of an emergency.
  • Ensure your children’s school or daycare has emergency policies.
  • Designate an emergency contact to pick your children up after school or daycare and coordinate with your children’s school or daycare’s authorization procedures.

More information and resources

Children's activities

Older Adults and Older Adults with a Disability

Your emergency plan

  • Create an emergency contact list with names and telephone numbers and keep a copy with you and in your emergency kit.
    • Write down the names and phone numbers of on-site doctors, nurses, social workers, etc. at your place of residence (if applicable) and the hours they are available.
  • Familiarize yourself with all escape routes and the location of emergency doors/exits in your residence.
  • Know the location of emergency buttons (many seniors’ buildings have emergency buttons located in bedrooms and washrooms with a direct link to 911 or the building’s superintendent).
  • Prepare a personal support kit that includes any medication, medical supplies and assistive devices you would require during an evacuation. Inform your personal support network of where you store your personal support kit.
  • Always wear your MedicAlert identification, if you have one.
  • If you depend on electricity for a respirator or other essential medical equipment, talk to your personal support network about getting a back-up generator for your residence.

Tips for helping older adults and persons with a disability during an emergency:

  • Check on neighbours who may need assistance
  • Be patient, listen actively, do not shout or yell
  • Ask and make sure that they have all of their medication, devices and key contact information
  • For persons with a hearing and/or visual impairment, draw an “x” on their back so they know you are there
  • If you are helping with any equipment or assistive devices, be sure to follow the instructions properly
  • Avoid lifting, support or assist in moving a person down the stairs, unless you are familiar with the proper technique


Your emergency plan

  • Ask neighbours or someone in your personal support network to help keep you informed of potential hazards.
  • Keep a laminated Emergency Information Wallet Card (refer to the Emergency Wallet Card or call 311 for more information) and a CommuniCardTM on you and in your household emergency kit that identifies you as a person with a hearing loss. The card helps to explain how to communicate with you.
  • Keep a pencil and paper handy for written communication. Think about writing down things you need to say on paper and keeping it with you, for example: “I use American Sign Language (ASL) and need an ASL interpreter.”
  • Keep hearing aids in a place where you can find them easily during an emergency.
  • Put different alarms in places you spend a lot of time to help notify you if an emergency is happening.
  • Install a smoke detection system that includes smoke alarms and accessory flashing strobe lights or shakers to gain your attention if the alarms sound.
  • Test smoke alarms on a monthly basis by pushing the test button. Replace smoke alarm batteries every six months and whenever there is sign that the battery is low.
  • Think about what help you would need if your personal support network was not available in an emergency and how you would communicate.
  • Consider registering for the Text with 9-1-1 service at (external link).


Your emergency plan

  • Always plan alternate ways to get out of your home.
  • If you live in a high-rise building, contact the building management to be added to the “Person’s Requiring Assistance List” and request a copy of the building’s Fire Safety Plan
  • If you use a wheelchair, scooter, or other mobility device, request that an emergency evacuation chair be stored/ installed near a stairwell on the same floor on which you live so that your personal support network can readily use it to help you safely evacuate the building. Practice using the chair or other mobility device with members of your support network.
  • In your personal assessment checklist, identify areas of your body that have reduced sensation and make a list of instructions so that these areas can be checked for injuries after an emergency by your personal support network, if you cannot do so yourself.
  • Be prepared to give brief instructions regarding how to move you, should it be required.


Your emergency plan

  • Consider installing security lighting in each room of your home to help you safely move around, if you have reduced vision.
  • Have a long cane readily available to maneuver around obstacles. There may be debris on the floor or furniture that may have shifted. Make sure you keep extra canes at home or other places you spend time.
  • Store high-powered flashlights with wide beams and extra batteries where you can easily find them.
  • Keep lights in working order so first responders can make their way around in your home in an emergency.
  • Identify and mark all emergency supplies in advance with fluorescent tape, large print, or braille.
  • Mark gas, water, and electric shutoff valves in your home, in advance with fluorescent tape, large print or braille.
  • Familiarize yourself, in advance, with all escape routes and locations of emergency doors/exits on each floor of any building where you work, live and/or visit.

Non-Visible Disabilities and Medical Needs

Your emergency plan

  • Keep a list of your personal support network or anyone else who might be aware of your specific needs and may be able to assist you during an emergency.
  • Make a list of your medications (name, dose, frequencies, and the name of the prescribing doctor) and medical supplies to store in your emergency kit.
    • Inform your personal support network of where you store your medication and personal support kit in the event of an evacuation.
  • If you require medical treatment, discuss what you should do in the case of an emergency with your health care provider.
  • Keep a pencil and paper or portable electronic recording device handy for any new instructions provided to you during an emergency.
  • Consider wearing a MedicAlert bracelet or identification to help notify emergency responders about your disability.
  • Request that a panic push button be installed in the building you work and/or live in, so that in an emergency you can notify others of your whereabouts and that you need help.

Halton Region has a series of seven pamphlets for:

  • Hearing
  • High-rise safety
  • Mobility
  • Non-visible disabilities
  • Older adults with disabilities
  • Travel considerations
  • Vision

Pamphlets can be mailed to your residence upon request; call 311 to order your pamphlets today. Pamphlets are also available for pick-up at Halton Regional Centre and various government and emergency responder facilities.

  • Make sure you also have enough food and water stored at home for your pets for 72-hours.
  • Identify a family member at home in charge of evacuating pets. In certain emergencies, you may need to evacuate without your pets.
  • Evacuation Centres can only accept service animals with the proper documentation. To shelter with your pets, make plans to stay with family, friends or pet-friendly hotels. You can also bring your pets to a local kennel or veterinary clinic; check with your service provider. 
  • Ensure you have food and water stored for 72-hours.
  • Make sure service animals have their identification tags and have a copy of service animal documentation.
  • Include your service animal in your home escape plan so they can safely join you when evacuating from your home.

Step Three: Get a Kit

Getting an emergency kit can ensure that you and your family will be self-sufficient for at least 72-hours. This will allow first responders responding to an emergency to focus their attention of the incident.

You can use a backpack or a duffle bag as your family’s emergency kit so it’s easier to bring with you in an emergency. Check your emergency kit twice a year to ensure freshness of food, water and medication. Remember to restock any items you may have used!

Emergency kits are available for purchase at the following locations:

  • Canadian Red Cross
  • Local hardware stores
  • Local CAA

Your kit should include:

  • flashlight
  • battery-operated radio and/or crank-radio
  • spare batteries (for flashlight and/or radio)
  • portable power banks (USB port)
  • chargers for electronic devices
  • first-aid kit
  • candles and matches/lighter
  • spare car keys and house keys
  • extra cash
  • important documents (photocopies of photo identification cards, passport, insurance policies) and a waterproof folder
  • emergency contact information
  • non-perishable food and bottled water (ensure you have a three-day supply per person)
  • items needed to open food (such as manual can-opener, scissors)
  • clothing and footwear (season-appropriate)
  • blankets and/or sleeping bags
  • personal hygiene items
  • toilet paper
  • medication (especially prescription, 72-hours’ worth at least)
  • eyewear (glasses, contacts)
  • whistle (to attract attention, if needed)
  • map of your community
  • games (playing cards or other quiet games/toys)
  • stationary items (paper, pencils, pens)
  • recent photos of family members in your case you are all separated
  • a copy of the Personal Emergency Preparedness Guide

In certain circumstances, you and your family may need to stay in your home during an emergency so be prepared to stay in your home for at least 72-hours. Some of the items listed below will also be in your family emergency kit. You can use a backpack or duffle bag to store the following items:

  • Non-perishable food (foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking and little or no water). Store at least a three-day supply per person.
  • manual can opener
  • scissors
  • drinking water (store at least a three-day supply for each member of your family). Children, nursing mothers and people who are ill require more water
  • first-aid kit and first-aid manual
  • personal hygiene products (such as toothpaste, soap, etc.). Don’t forget to include prescription medication and non-prescription medication close-by
  • battery-operated radio and/or crank radio
  • portable power banks (USB port)
  • chargers for electronic devices
  • flashlight and extra batteries
  • candles and matches/lighter or lantern and fuel
  • compass
  • waterproof folder and/or container
  • signal flare
  • whistle
  • pocket knife or multi-tool
  • one change of seasonal-appropriate clothing and footwear per person
  • rain gear (rain coat, umbrella)
  • blankets or sleeping bags
  • sweaters
  • store important documents in a waterproof container/folder or a bank safety deposit box
  • photocopies of photo ID (passports, driver’s license, etc.)
  • health cards
  • bank account information (including credit card numbers)
  • small amount of cash
  • recent photos of family members in your case you are all separated

If you or someone you care for has a disability, it is important to make sure that any critical information, mobility device, medication or aid is part of their emergency plan and kit.

Please see the Emergency Preparedness: Your Personal Guide (PDF file) and review it. By taking action now and planning ahead you can reduce the stress and impacts of an emergency later.

Emergency preparedness materials for people with disabilities can be mailed to your residence upon request; call 311 to order your materials today. Materials are also available for pick-up at Halton Regional Centre. The materials are available in three translated languages: French, Urdu, and Chinese (simplified)

In addition, here are some things to consider:

  • Medications, dentures, glasses or other corrective lenses, hearing aids
  • Mobility devices such as wheelchair, walker, cane, crutches
  • Any assistive devices for persons with a visual or hearing impairment (e.g., CommuniCard, Braille devices, white cane)
  • For persons with non-visible disabilities, be sure to wear a Medic Alert bracelet and keep a supply of critical medication (e.g., inuslin and related supplies for persons with diabetes, Epipen for persons with severe allergies, asthma inhaler).
  • Extra batteries for all types of devices
  • A list of the style and serial numbers of medical devices
  • Consider a place to store back-up equipment (e.g., neighbour’s home, work)
  • If you live in a high rise building, be sure inform the building manager of your requirements

Pet and service animal kits should include the following items:

  • 72-hour supply of food and water
  • portable food and water bowls, manual cap opener
  • medications (minimum 72-hour supply), dosage, frequency and contact information of prescribing veterinarian
  • medical records, including proof of vaccination (note that most boarding facilities will not accept pets without proof of current vaccination records)
  • service animal identification
  • leash/harness/muzzle (if required)
  • blankets/towels, favourite toy
  • plastic bags
  • litter pan, litter and scooper
  • up-to-date ID tag with your contact information/your veterinarian contact information (microchipping is also recommended)
  • current photo of your pet or service animal in case they are lost or get separated from you
  • information on pet’s feeding schedule, behavioural/medical concerns and special instructions in case your pet needs to be boarded
  • list of boarding facilities, or friends/relatives your pets could stay with. Please note, evacuation centres will accept service animals
  • copy of licence (if required)

Emergencies can also happen on the road. All cars should have an emergency kit and drivers should know where to access them.

Car survival kits are available for purchase at the following locations:

  • Local hardware stores
  • Local CAA

Your kit should include:

  • booster cables
  • car chargers for electronic devices
  • first-aid kit
  • road maps
  • methyl hydrate or gas line anti-freeze to de-ice the fuel line
  • ice scraper and brush
  • sand or kitty litter (for tire traction)
  • blankets
  • candles in a deep can
  • waterproof matches
  • a tow rope (30 ft or 10 m)
  • warning light or flares
  • flashlight (test monthly)
  • extra hats, coats and footwear
  • rain gear (umbrella)
  • food bars (granola, chocolate, etc.)
  • fire extinguisher