Prepare for an Emergency

Emergencies can occur at any time. In an emergency, response agencies focus their efforts first where the need is greatest. That is why individual emergency preparedness is so important.

It only takes four simple steps to become better prepared to face an emergency:

  1. Know the risks
  2. Make a plan
  3. Get or prepare an emergency kit
  4. Download SaskAlert to receive alerts of emergencies happening now in your location

Know the Risks

The first step in disaster prevention and preparedness is to know the risks.

Floods

Each year, the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency releases its forecast for the upcoming spring runoff. Although the forecast is a general guide for large areas, it may identify any areas where there is a potential threat of higher than normal water levels.

The best way to meet the challenges of spring runoff or flooding is to be well prepared. Some suggested mitigative actions to prevent flooding are to:

  • Clear neighbourhood storm water catch basins, where present, to help water drain.
  • Shovel or remove snow from around your home and move it to a position where melt water will drain away from the foundation. This will help melt water drain into the appropriate system in your town or city and possibly relieve pressure on waste water systems.
  • Clear channels in the ice/snow to allow melt water to drain away more effectively from your home. Ensure downspouts are extended so they discharge rain or melt away from your home. This will help prevent the water from draining back towards your foundation. The suggested minimum distance is two metres.
  • Check to make sure your sump pump is working. If you don't have a sump pump, consider installing one. Contact a plumber for assistance, if required.
  • Determine if any private wells could be infiltrated by flood water. Also consider if your wellhead protection is adequate and if your well's power supply is secure.
  • Consider installing a mainline Sewer Backwater Valve to protect against sewer backup.
  • Keep basement sewer caps in place.
  • Check your basement regularly for signs of water and consider installing a water-sensing alarm. You may wish to learn more about prevention methods to reduce the risk of flooding:
  • Preparing for a Flood and Cleaning Up After a Flood
    These booklets from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health provides easy to understand information for homeowners and farmers to prepare for and clean up after a flood.
  • Floods – What to do
    The Government of Canada has a list of steps you can follow before, during and after a flood.
  • Sandbagging for Flood Protection
    North Dakota State University explains how to fill, locate and stack sandbags to reduce the risk of flood damage.
Severe summer weather

Saskatchewan is known for its severe summer weather, such as thunderstorms, extreme heat or tornadoes. In all instances, it is important to be aware of what type of weather is in the forecast. To understand the difference between a weather advisory, watch or warning, visit Environment Canada's Be Prepared for Summer Weather.

Since the recommendation for many severe summer weather events is to take shelter, it is important that your home is in good repair and that you follow the flooding tips listed above in case there is a flash flood.

Winter storms

Blizzards, extreme cold and other winter storms are common occurrences on the prairies. That's why it's important to know what Environment Canada means when it forecasts severe winter weather. You may also wish to check the Highway Hotline before heading out.

Wildland or forest fires

There have been several instances of widespread grass fires and forest fires over the past few years. You can view the current emergency activity in our province, as well as the location of emergencies in previous years by visiting our Emergencies and Response page.

The SPSA promotes FireSmart, a program that helps you to prevent and prepare for wildfire and to protect your home and community.

Fire can spread quickly in hot, dry, windy conditions. That's why you should check to see if there is a Fire Ban in your community and report any planned burning of fields to the Controlled Burn Line at 1-866-404-4911. If you are planning to burn inside or within 4.5 kilometre of a provincial forest, you will also need to get a Burn Notification Number.

Other risks

There may be other risks that could affect you not listed here. For a complete list of Hazards and Emergencies, visit the Get Prepared website.

Make a Plan

Thinking about what you would do in different situations and preparing an emergency plan with every member of your family is a major step in emergency preparedness. Your plan should include:

 

  1. Family communications plan
  2. Evacuation plan and route
  3. Emergency numbers
  4. Fire and other safety
  5. Utility shut-off procedure
  6. Important documents
Family communications plan

During an emergency, it may be easier to reach someone using text messaging or social media or to make a long-distance call than to call someone locally (due to network damage or a jammed system). Discuss with your family how you will try to get in touch with each other. Identify one or two out-of-town contacts you and your loved ones can call or text message to connect and share information. Be sure they live far enough away so they will not likely be affected by the same emergency.

Make sure everyone in your family, as well as your two key contacts, knows how to use text messaging. During emergencies, these messages may often get through even when phone calls may not. Always keep your communications devices fully charged.

Evacuation plan and route

Make sure everyone in your family knows how to safely exit your home using the main exit and an alternate one. Be sure to consider your living situation. For instance, if you live in a high-rise and have special needs, talk to your building manager or neighbours to make special arrangements, if necessary.

In case you are asked to evacuate your home, or even your area, select two safe locations you could go to. One should be nearby, such as a local library or community centre. The other one should be farther away, outside your neighbourhood, in case the emergency affects a large area. You should also plan how you would travel to that safe location if evacuation was advised.

If you have pets, think of someone who can take your pet(s) if you have to leave your home. Often, only service animals are allowed at receptions centres. If you plan to take your pet with you, consider what supplies your pet may need during an emergency. (See "Special Considerations" section below for more information.)

Emergency numbers

Teach children when and how to dial 911 and other key numbers they may need to call. Also keep a list of emergency numbers handy and make sure all members of your family know where to find the list with these phone numbers:

  • 911
  • Police
  • Fire
  • Family doctor
  • Family and friends who can lend support in a crisis
  • Insurance contact
  • Utility companies
Fire and other safety

Follow general household safety rules for smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers. More information on how many to have, where to place them, how often to check and replace them can be obtained from your local fire department.

Utility shut-off procedure

Every adult in your family, as well as older children, should also know how to turn off main utilities – water, electricity, gas. In certain emergencies, authorities will ask that these be turned off for safety reasons. Write out instructions, if needed, and post somewhere visible. Everyone should also know where the floor drain is located and ensure that it is not obstructed, in case of flooding.

Important documents

Make copies of important documents (insurance, main identification documents like driver's licence and passport, birth and marriage certificates, wills). Keep with your plan in a safe place. Consider sharing copies with out-of-town family members or keep a set in a safety deposit box.

Emergency Planning and Safety Beyond Your Home

Have you ever thought about your workplace emergency plan? Do you know what your child's school or daycare plans to do in an emergency?

Find out about their evacuation plans and how they will contact family in an emergency. Make sure that you keep all relevant contact information up-to-date, and make sure any people designated to pick up your child are familiar with your emergency plan.

Think of your neighbours. Identify anyone who may need assistance during an emergency and discuss a plan with them and other neighbours. For instance, help them prepare an emergency plan and emergency kit, and arrange to check in on that person during an emergency, like a power outage.

Planning for special needs

If you or anyone in your family has special needs, be sure your plan reflects them. For instance, for someone with special medical needs or a medical condition, you may want to include in your plan a medical history, copies of prescriptions, information for key health-care contacts. Your emergency kit should also contain extra medications and supplies. You may not have access to conveniences, such as pharmacies, immediately after an emergency has occurred. It is also a good idea to teach others about any special needs, such as how to use medical equipment or administer medicine.

Special considerations: planning for your pets

Animals, like every other member of your family, deserve the protection and security of emergency preparation. A comprehensive emergency plan includes planning care for your pets before, during and after an emergency.

Before an emergency occurs, contact motels and hotels in communities outside of your area to find out if they will accept pets in an emergency. If you have made plans to evacuate to the home of a friend or family member, ask if you can bring your pets. It is also a good idea to ask your veterinarian if he/she will take your pets in an emergency.

Keep your pet's shots current and know where the records are. Most kennels require proof of current rabies and distemper shots to accept pets. It is a good idea to keep these papers with the other documents you would carry if you need to evacuate.

For more tips and ideas to help with developing your plan, visit Public Safety Canada.

When Your Plan Is Ready

Keep your plan in an easy to reach location. A good place is with your emergency kit. Make sure everyone in your family knows where to find it. Discuss your plan with other family and friends so they know what you would do in an emergency. Once a year, review your plan with the entire family. Update it to reflect any changes you want to make. At the same time, refresh your emergency kit with new food, water and other supplies.

Build a Kit

Your emergency kit should have everything you, your family and your pets would need to be safe and take care of yourselves for at least three days immediately following an emergency. Your kit should be portable in case you need to evacuate.

Family Essentials
  • food (non-perishable and easy-to-prepare items, enough for three days) and a manual can opener
  • bottled water (four litres per person for each day)
  • medication(s)
  • flashlight
  • radio (crank or battery-run)
  • extra batteries
  • first-aid kit
  • candles and matches/lighter
  • hand sanitizer or moist towelettes
  • important papers (identification, contact lists, copies of prescriptions, etc.)
  • extra car keys and cash
  • whistle (to attract attention, if needed)
  • zip-lock bag (to keep things dry)
  • garbage bags
Extra Supplies for Evacuation
  • clothes, shoes
  • sleeping bags or blankets
  • personal items (soap, toothpaste, shampoo, comb, other toiletries)
  • playing cards, travel games, other activities for children
Special Considerations
  • items for babies and small children – diapers, formula, bottles, baby food, comfort items
  • prescription medication
  • medical supplies and equipment
  • any other items specific to your family's needs
Pet Essentials
  • Food and water:
    A seven day supply of food and drinking water in an airtight, waterproof container.
  • Current photos of you and your pet:
    If you become separated from your pet during an emergency, a picture of you with your pet will help you document ownership and enable others to help you identify your pet. Include detailed information about species, breed, age, sex, colour and distinguishing characteristics.
  • Important documents:
    Have up-to-date identification including an additional tag with the phone number of someone out of the evacuation area in the event the pet becomes lost.
  • Medications, medical record:
    Keep an extra supply of the medicines your pet takes on a regular basis in a waterproof container.
  • First aid kit:
    A pet first aid kit (like the one suggested by the Saskatchewan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is the first step in being prepared should an animal emergency happen. You may also want to talk to your veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet's emergency medical needs.
  • Collar/harness, ID Tag and leash:
    Your pet should wear a collar with its rabies tag and identification at all times. Include a back-up leash, collar and ID tag in your pet's emergency supply kit.
  • Crate or other pet carrier:
    If you need to evacuate in an emergency situation, take your pet and animals with you in a carrier with blankets or towels for bedding and warmth. Carriers should be large enough to comfortably house your pet for several hours or even days. Familiar items should be included as they can help reduce stress for your pet.
  • Sanitation:
    Include pet litter, a litter box, paper towels, plastic trash bags and a container of household bleach to provide for pet sanitation.

When you are moving your pets, move them in a pet carrier that enables them to stand up and turn around inside. Train your pets to become comfortable with a carrier by putting food or a favorite toy or blanket in the carrier.

Special travel considerations for birds
  • Birds should be transported in a secure travel crate or carrier.
  • In cold weather, make certain you have a blanket over your pet's cage. This may help to reduce the stress of travelling.
  • In warm weather, carry a spray bottle to periodically moisten your bird's feathers.
  • Have recent photos available and keep your bird's leg bands on for identification.
  • If the carrier does not have a perch, line it with paper towels that you can change frequently.
  • Keep the carrier in as quiet an area as possible.
  • It is imperative that birds eat on a daily basis so purchase a timed feeder. If you need to leave your bird unexpectedly, the feeder will ensure its daily feeding schedule.
  • Items to keep on hand: catch net, heavy towel, blanket or sheet to cover the cage and a cage liner.
Special travel considerations for small animals
  • Small animals such as hamsters, gerbils, mice and guinea pigs should be transported in secure carriers. Be sure to bring bedding materials, food and food bowls.
  • Items to keep on hand: salt lick, an extra water bottle, a small box or tube for the pet to hide in and a week's worth of bedding.
Other Tips
  • Pack the contents of your emergency kit in an easy-to-carry bag(s) or a case on wheels.
  • Store your kit in a place that is easy to reach, and ensure that everyone in your family knows where it is.
  • Your water supply is meant to cover what you would drink as well as what you might need for food preparation, hygiene and dishwashing.
  • Check and refresh your kit twice a year including all expiry dates and replace food and water with a fresh supply. Check batteries and replace as needed.
  • Keep your cell phone or mobile device fully charged.

Download SaskAlert

SaskAlert is the Government of Saskatchewan's emergency public alerting program that provides critical information on emergencies in real time, so you can take action to protect yourself, your family and your property. (Information about the national public alerting system can be found at the bottom of the page.)

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