Emergency Preparedness

By definition, emergencies happen when we don't expect them, and often when families are not together. Suddenly, you need to think about your kids at school or elderly parents across town. If phones don't work, or some neighbourhoods aren't accessible, what will you do?

Richmond Hill has an Emergency Plan in case there’s a disaster or emergency in our community.  While governments at all levels are working hard to keep Canada safe, everyone has a role to play in being prepared for an emergency. There are many things that you and your family can do to prepare in advance.

 Know The Risks

Knowing what the risks are here in Richmond Hill and York Region is essential to being prepared for an emergency. Our risks are different than those in other parts of the world so it is important that we know what types of emergencies we are most likely to experience.

Our risks are considered and updated yearly. The following emergencies most likely to occur in Richmond Hill:

Health Emergencies

It is impossible to predict when a health emergency, like a pandemic will happen and how it will impact individuals and communities. So, it is important for residents to be prepared for different situations.

Health emergencies may be caused by the spread of communicable diseases and contaminants in the air, food or water.

General Prevention

  • Keep your immunizations up to date
  • Stay home if you are ill to prevent spreading disease to others
  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue if you sneeze or cough
  • Regularly clean and disinfect commonly-touched surfaces

During a Health Emergency

In the event of a health emergency, healthcare services provided by doctors, nurses and hospitals may be reduced or unavailable, because of high demand.

  • If you become sick, you may be told stay home rather than visit an emergency department.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about options for ongoing healthcare services for chronic conditions, such as diabetes.
  • Follow directions provided by Public Health and the Medical Officer of Health. These directions are usually announced through the media and social media, and posted on York Region’s website at york.ca
  • Contact your health care provider if you feel you may have been exposed to the infectious disease or contaminant of concern and are not feeling well
What You Need to Know
  • Banks may be closed. Plan to keep some money at home for emergency purchases.
  • Stores may be closed. Keep extra essential supplies, such as food and medicine, on hand.
  • Child care facilities and schools may be closed. Have a back-up plan for child care.
  • Transportation (for example, bus services, airlines and taxis) may be disrupted.
Severe Summer Weather

Severe summer weather is caused by high and low pressure systems converging and can result in dangerous and damaging storms. To be better prepared for summer weather, review the tips and information below from York Region. 

Watches and Warnings

  • A WATCH means there is an area-wide risk of a storm but does not mean that the storm will happen. A WATCH means that the probability for severe weather is high so pay attention. Everyone in an area identified by a WATCH should be careful and be ready to act quickly if a storm occurs.
  • A WARNING means that severe weather exists within an area now, or will occur. Everyone in an area identified by a WARNING should monitor their local weather conditions and be prepared to take cover.
 Thunderstorms

Thunderstorms can be accompanied by hail, lightning, high winds, heavy rain and can also spurn tornadoes. Thunderstorms are usually short and over within an hour although a series of thunderstorms can last for several hours.

Lightning can strike anywhere within the same area that thunder sound travels. If you can hear thunder, you can be struck by lightning and should seek shelter immediately. There is no safe place outdoors during a thunderstorm. If thunder roars, go indoors!

If outside:

  • Stay away from trees, telephone poles, wires, fences, or anything metal
  • Seek a low lying area and don’t stand near anything made of metal

If indoors:

  • Stay away from appliances or equipment — anything that will conduct electricity including sinks, tubs and showers
  • Avoid using a telephone that is connected to a landline

If driving or boating:

  • Do not park under tall objects that could topple
  • Do not stop or exit vehicle if there are power lines down nearby
  • Quickly get to shore, especially in an open cabin boat, and find shelter
 Tornado

A tornado is an extremely powerful, dangerous, funnel-shaped rotating columns of high winds that comes into contact with the ground and causes damage. Large or small, they can uproot trees, flip cars and demolish houses. Tornado season runs from March to October with peak activity in late June or early July. These dangerous storms leave a path of destruction in their wake and an average tornado can cause a long, wide trail of damage.

Warning signs of a tornado include:

  • Severe thunderstorms, with frequent thunder and lightning
  • An extremely dark sky, sometimes highlighted by green or yellow clouds
  • A rumbling sound or a whistling sound.
  • A funnel cloud at the rear base of a thundercloud, often behind a curtain of heavy rain or hail.

 If indoors:

  • Stay tuned to your local weather station for updated information
  • Go to your basement, cold cellar or take shelter in a small interior windowless ground floor room (such as a bathroom, closet or hallway)
  • Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside
  • If you have no basement, protect yourself by taking shelter under a heavy table or desk.
  • Use your arms to protect your head and neck

If at the office or high-rise building

  • Take shelter in an inner hallway or room, ideally in the basement or ground floor
  • Do not use the elevator and stay away from windows
  • Avoid large rooms that are not supported in the middle such as gymnasiums, churches and auditoriums

If outside:

  • Take shelter immediately if a warning has been issued (never wait until you see a tornado)
  • Don’t go under an overpass or bridge — you’re safer in an open flat area
  • If you cannot find shelter, lie flat in a ditch and cover your head with your hands
  • Always get as close to the ground as possible and watch for flying debris
  • Avoid cars and mobile homes. Find shelter elsewhere, preferably in a building with a strong foundation
  • If you are driving and see a tornado, get to a nearby shelter or travel away from the tornado. If the tornado is close, get out of your car and take cover in a low-lying area, such as a ditch.
  • Do not chase tornadoes - they are unpredictable and can change course abruptly.
  • A tornado is deceptive. It may appear to be standing still but is, in fact, moving toward you.

Afterwards:

  • Monitor media and social media for information about how to access assistance
  • Be mindful of any debris, damage to homes, buildings, roads, bridges
  • Report any emergency situations to local police, fire or paramedic services
  • Notify your insurance agent or broker if your property is damaged
  • Check for blown fuses, circuit breakers, or short-circuits in your home wiring and equipment (If a problem exists, call an expert)
  • Check for gas leaks in your home and if you smell gas (a rotten egg odour), evacuate the house immediately and call 9-1-1
  • Always follow instructions provided to you by your local gas company and local emergency responders
  • DO NOT approach or touch any liquid or vapour cloud that might have come from a gas line leak and remove your car or any equipment that could be a potential ignition source. This includes smoking, lighting a match or using electronics (cell phones, pagers, flashlights, keyless entry remotes, and vehicle alarms).
 Extreme Heat

Extreme heat or heat waves can be particularly dangerous for children, seniors, people with medical conditions and pets. A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessively hot weather that can be made worse by poor air quality.

Preparing for Extreme Heat

You can prepare for extreme heat by taking the following measures:

  • Install temporary reflectors, such as foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside
  • Weather-strip doors and windows to keep cool air inside
  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings or blinds, which can reduce the heat that enters a home
  • Install window air conditioners snugly; insulate if necessary
  • Check air conditioning ducts for proper insulation
  • Tune in regularly to local weather forecasts and alerts so you know when to take extra care

During Extreme Heat

  • Stay indoors as much as possible
  • If air conditioning is not available, stay on a lower floor out of the sun
  • Eat well-balanced light and regular meals that don’t need to be cooked
  • Drink plenty of water even if you do not feel thirsty
  • Wear loose-fitting, light-coloured and lightweight clothing made of breathable fabrics.
  • If your home is not air conditioned, consider spending the warmest part of the day in air conditioned buildings such as libraries, movie theatres, shopping malls, and other community facilities
  • Take cool showers or baths until you feel refreshed

How to conserve energy during extreme heat

  • Adjust or turn off your air conditioner when not home – use a programmable thermostat
  • Use ceiling or portable fans instead of air conditioners in or next to an open window (so heat can exhaust to the outside)
  • Close blinds and curtains during the day to help keep heat out
  • Replace incandescent lighting with fluorescent lights
  • Turn off lights, computers, stereos, televisions, and other electronics when not being used
  • Prepare healthy meals that do not require cooking
  • Shower, run dishwasher, washer and dryer during off-peak hours
  • Dry wet clothes outdoors
  • Avoid using heat producing small appliances (toasters, hair dryers)
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible

Health Risks

Your body produces heat, especially during physical activity. Hot air, sun rays, and hot surfaces also heat your body. This heat is lost by contact with cool air and by sweat production, which cools your body as it evaporates.

Heat illnesses can affect you quickly, and can lead to long-term health problems and even death. They are mainly caused by being over-exposed to extreme heat especially if you are doing too much for your age and physical condition. Heat illnesses include:

  • heat edema (swelling of hands, feet, and ankles)
  • heat rash
  • heat cramps (muscle cramps)
  • heat fainting
  • heat exhaustion
  • heat stroke

Find out more about heat-related illnesses.

Safety Tips

Heat illnesses are preventable. The most important thing is to keep cool and hydrated. Follow these five steps from Health Canada to protect yourself and your family in very hot weather:

  • Prepare for the Heat
  • Pay close attention to how you – and those around you – feel
  • Stay hydrated
  • Stay cool
  • Avoid exposure to extreme heat when outdoors

Check out this quick video for tips!

Air Quality

If poor air quality conditions are expected:

  • Avoid or reduce strenuous physical outdoor activities
  • Avoid exercising near areas of heavy traffic
  • If you have heart or lung conditions, talk to your physician about additional ways to protect your health. 
Winter Storms

Winter storms are linked to the death of more than 100 people every year in Canada. Winter storms include blizzards, ice storms, extreme cold, etc. It’s best to stay indoors if possible.

Types of Storms

Blizzards

  • A blizzard, in general, is when winds of 40 km/h or greater are expected to cause widespread reductions in visibility to 400 metres or less, due to blowing snow, or blowing snow in combination with falling snow, for at least four hours
  • Blizzards come in on a wave of cold arctic air, bringing snow, bitter cold, high winds and poor visibility in blowing snow. While these conditions must last for at least four hours to be designated a blizzard, they may last for several days.

Hail

  • Hailstorms occur across Canada, though they are most frequent in Alberta, the southern Prairies and in southern Ontario.
  • Hailstorms occur mostly from May to October.
  • Some hailstones are the size of peas while others can be as big as grapefruits

Ice Storms

  • Freezing rain is tough, clings to everything it touches and is more slippery than snow.
  • A little freezing rain is dangerous, a lot can be catastrophic.

What To Do Before

  • Stock up on heating fuel and ready-to-eat food, as well as battery-powered or wind-up flashlights and radios - and extra batteries. For a complete list of emergency supplies, go to emergency kits. Also, learn what to have in your car emergency kit.
  • If hail is forecast, you may want to protect your vehicle by putting it in the garage.
  • Leave your radio/television on and check for weather updates (websites also)
  • Inspect and clean your chimney regularly
  • Check seals on gas fireplaces for leakage
  • Install a rain cap on metal/masonry chimneys
  •  Protect floors and walls from heat and sparks from a fireplace by always using a properly fitting screen
  • Regularly check your fireplace for corrosion or rust stain

In The Car

  • Have an emergency kit in your car
  • Keep your gas tank almost full and have windshield washer fluid more than half-full at all times
  • Use gas line anti-freeze on-hand in extreme cold weather events
  • Have a charged cell phone in your car in case you have to call for help

During a Winter Storm

Blizzards

  • When a winter storm hits, stay indoors. If you must go outside, dress for the weather.
  • In wide-open areas, visibility can be virtually zero during heavy blowing snow or a blizzard. You can easily lose your way. If a blizzard strikes, do not try to walk to another building unless there is a rope to guide you or something you can follow.

In The Car:

  • If you must travel during a winter storm, do so during the day and let someone know your route and arrival time.
  • If your car gets stuck in a blizzard or snowstorm, remain calm and stay in your car.
  • Keep fresh air in your car by opening the window slightly on the sheltered side, away from the wind
  • You can run the car engine about 10 minutes every half-hour if the exhaust system is working well.
  • To keep your hands and feet warm, exercise them periodically. In general, it is a good idea to keep moving to avoid falling asleep. If you do try to shovel the snow from around your car, avoid overexerting yourself.
  • Overexertion in the bitter cold can cause death as a result of sweating or a heart attack.
  • Keep watch for traffic or searchers.

Ice Storms

  • Ice from freezing rain accumulates on branches, power lines and buildings.
  • If you must go outside when a significant amount of ice has accumulated, pay attention to branches or wires that could break due to the weight of the ice and fall on you. Ice sheets could also do the same.
  • Never touch power lines. A hanging power line could be charged (live).
  • Remember also that ice, branches or power lines can continue to break and fall for several hours after the end of the precipitation.
  • When freezing rain is forecast, avoid driving. Even a small amount of freezing rain can make roads extremely slippery. Wait several hours after freezing rain ends so that road maintenance crews have enough time to spread sand or salt on icy roads.

Hypothermia and Frostbite

Hypothermia is when the body loses heat faster than it can produce heat. Signs will include:

  • increased shivering
  • slurred speech
  • impaired judgement
  • poor muscle co-ordination

To treat a person with hypothermia:

  • move them to a warm room and call 9-1-1
  • Remove wet clothing and slowly warm the person by wrapping them in blankets and offering warm drinks (non-alcoholic and non-caffeine).

Frostbite has a numbing effect on the body and warning signs include:

  • stinging or aching feeling, followed by numbness
  • Waxy, cold skin
  • skin colour will change to red at early signs to blue or black in extreme cases.

To treat someone with frostbite:

  • move them to a warm room and call 9-1-1
  • Do not rub or directly re-warm the affected body part
  • Do not let them walk if frostbite is located on their feet.
 Power Outages

During a power outage, you may be left without heating/air conditioning, lighting, hot water, or even running water. Most power outages will be over almost as soon as they begin, but some can last much longer - up to days or even weeks. Power outages are often caused by freezing rain, sleet storms and/or high winds which damage power lines and equipment. Cold snaps or heat waves can also overload the electric power system.

Before the Power Goes Out

  • Use surge protectors to protect valuable electronics like computers and home entertainment systems
  • Know how to safely shut off your electricity, water and gas (and if any special tools are needed)
  • Keep your vehicle with no less than a half tank of gas because gas stations are electrically operated and won’t work during a power outage
  • Have back-up light sources such as flashlights with batteries in all major rooms of your house
  • Have a corded telephone that will work without home power (cordless phones will not work without electricity)
  • Know how to release your electric garage door opener and how to open the door without electricity (some openers have a battery back-up)
  • Have a cooler on hand that can be filled with ice or freezer blocks for cold food storage if Needed
  • Choose heating units that are not dependent on an electric motor, electric fan, or some other electric device to function. It is important to adequately vent the stove or heater with the type of chimney flue specified for it.
  • If you have a wood-burning fireplace, have the chimney cleaned every fall in preparation for use and to eliminate creosote build-up which could ignite and cause a chimney fire.
  • If the standby heating unit will use the normal house oil or gas supply, have it connected with shut-off valves by a certified tradesperson.
  • Before considering the use of an emergency generator during a power outage, check with furnace, appliance and lighting fixture dealers or manufacturers regarding power requirements and proper operating procedures.

During a Power Outage

  • Check whether the power outage is limited to your home. If your neighbours' power is still on, check your own circuit breaker panel or fuse box. If the problem is not a breaker or a fuse, check the service wires leading to the house. If they are obviously damaged or on the ground, stay at least 10 meters back and notify your electric supply authority. Keep the number along with other emergency numbers near your telephone.
  • Use flashlights instead of candles for light.
  • NEVER operate any fuel burning equipment (including generators, smokers, outdoors grills or barbeques) inside your home, basement, garage or other enclosed area Not only is it a fire hazard, they give off carbon monoxide. Because you can't smell or see it, carbon monoxide can cause health problems and is life-threatening.
  • Turn off appliances not required (electric range and washer/dryer) to prevent damage from a power surge when power is restored, as appliances left on during an outage will start up when electricity is restored
  • Don't open your freezer or fridge unless it is absolutely necessary. A full freezer will keep food frozen for 24 to 36 hours if the door remains closed.
  • Listen to your battery-powered or wind-up radio for information on the outage and advice from authorities.
  • Tips:
  • Make sure your home has a working carbon monoxide alarm. If it is hard-wired to the house's electrical supply, ensure it has a battery-powered back-up.
  • Protect sensitive electrical appliances such as TVs, computer, and DVD players with a surge-protecting powerbar.

Generator Safety

To operate a generator safely:

  • ALWAYS read and follow the manufacturer's instructions when operating.
  • ALWAYS keep your generator outdoors and away from doors and windows. Never use it inside your garage.
  • ALWAYS use a proper rated, CSA-approved extension cord (in good condition)
  • NEVER add fuel while it is running (fire hazard)
  • NEVER connect to a wall outlet (very dangerous when power is restored)

After a Power Outage

  • Do not enter a flooded basement unless you are sure the power is disconnected.
  • Do not use flooded appliances, electrical outlets, switch boxes or fuse-breaker panels until they have been checked and cleaned by a qualified electrician.
  • Switch on the main electric switch (before, check to ensure appliances, electric heaters, TVs, microwaves computers, etc. were unplugged to prevent damage from a power surge).
  • Only turn on what you need to give the system a chance to stabilize
  • Check food supplies in refrigerators, freezers and cupboards for signs of spoilage. If a freezer door has been kept closed, food should stay frozen 24 to 36 hours, depending on the temperature. When food begins to defrost (usually after two days), it should be cooked; otherwise it should be thrown out.
  • As a general precaution, keep a bag of ice cubes in the freezer. If you return home after a period of absence and the ice has melted and refrozen, there is a good chance that the food is spoiled. When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Reset your clocks, automatic timers, and alarms.
  • Restock your emergency kit so the supplies will be there when needed again.
 Flooding
Floods are the most frequent natural hazard in Canada. They can occur at any time of the year and are most often caused by heavy rainfall, rapid melting of a thick snow pack, ice jams, or more rarely, the failure of a natural or man-made dam.

By planning ahead and taking sensible precautions, you can do your part to protect your home, health and help minimize flood damage.

Be Prepared for Flooding

If you are a homeowner, renter or business owner, take the following precautions to help prevent or lessen the effects of flooding:

  • Put weather protection sealant around basement windows and the base of ground-level doors.
  • Install the drainage for downspouts a sufficient distance from your residence to ensure that water moves away from the building.
  • Clear eaves troughs, catch basins, culverts and drainage ditches
  • Consider installing a sump pump and zero reverse flow valves in basement floor drains; be sure the sump pump has a battery back-up
  • Review your insurance policy to ensure you are adequately covered and it includes sewer back-up insurance
  • Do not store your important documents in the basement. Keep them at a higher level, protected from flood damage.
  • Assemble a 72-Hour Emergency Kit

When There's a Flood Warning

If a flood warning has been issued for your area, follow the advice and instructions from emergency response authorities. When flooding is imminent, take these precautions to ensure that your family and property are protected:

  • Have emergency food, water and medical supplies on-hand
  • Move furniture, electronics, appliances, equipment and other belongings off the floor
  • Take special precautions to safeguard electrical, natural gas or propane heating equipment.
  • Remove or seal hazardous products like cleaning chemicals
  • Remove toilet bowl water and plug basement sewer drains and toilet connections
  • Have sandbags ready to use
  • Do NOT attempt to shut off electricity if any water is present. Water and live electrical wires can be deadly
  • Evacuate your home or vehicle as requested by authorities

During a Flood

Keep your radio on to find out what areas are affected, what roads are safe, where to go and what to do if the local emergency team asks you to leave your home.

Keep your emergency kit close at hand, in a portable container such as a duffel bag, back pack, or suitcase with wheels.

Evacuation

If you are advised by the authorities to evacuate your home, do so. Ignoring the warning could jeopardize the safety of your family or those who may have to rescue you.

  • Take your emergency kit with you.
  • Follow the routes specified by officials. Don't take shortcuts. They could lead you to a blocked or dangerous area.
  • Make arrangements for pets.
  • Time permitting, leave a note informing others when you left and where you went. If you have a mailbox, leave the note there.
  • If you encounter a closed road (due to washed out roads or those that are water covered), take a different route.
  • If you are in a car, do not drive through flood waters or underpasses. The water may be deeper than it looks and your car could get stuck or swept away by fast water.
  • Avoid crossing bridges if the water is high and flowing quickly.
  • If you are caught in fast-rising waters and your car stalls, leave it and save yourself and your passengers

After a Flood

Take care when re-entering your home after a flood, as water may be heavily contaminated with sewage and other pollutants that can pose a health hazard. Do not return home until local authorities have deemed it safe.

  • Do not enter your home until municipal authorities state it is safe to do so
  • If the main power switch was not turned off prior to flooding, do not re-enter your home until a qualified electrician has determined it is safe to do so.
  • Use extreme caution when returning to your home after a flood.
  • Check building to make sure it is safe. Look for foundation damage, buckled walls or floors.
  • Inspect for damage inside your house. Watch for holes in the floor, broken glass and other potentially dangers debris.
  • Appliances that may have been flooded pose a risk of shock or fire when turned on. Do not use any appliances, heating, pressure, or sewage system until electrical components have been thoroughly cleaned, dried, and inspected by a qualified electrician.
  • Remove water from your flooded home slowly. Drain it in stages - about one third of the volume daily - because if the ground is still saturated and water is removed too quickly, the walls or the floor could buckle.

  • Dispose of all contaminated food
  • Wear rubber gloves, rubber boots and protective eyewear when cleaning up
  • Keep children away from contaminated areas during cleanup operations

For a full list of things to do when returning home after a flood, please visit GetPrepared.ca

 Hazardous materials incidents

Hazardous materials are substances (liquids, solids and gases) that pose a potential risk to life, health or property if released into the environment. Hazardous materials incidents can range from a chemical spill or fire on transportation routes or at industrial sites to a household chemical spill.

Emergency responders are trained to identify hazards and provide appropriate guidance to the public.

In some situations, you should seal yourself inside the building you are in (see Shelter-in-place). Other times, you may be instructed to go to higher elevations or evacuate the area. You'll want to have your emergency kit close at hand, in a portable container such as a duffel bag or suitcase with wheels.

When a Hazardous Incident Occurs

  • If you witness (or smell) a hazardous materials accident, call 9-1-1 and report it
  • Move away (up wind) from the incident site to minimize the risk of exposure or contamination
  • Follow instructions from emergency responders

If outside:

  • Move upstream / upwind / uphill as hazardous fumes and gases are generally heavier than air
  • Get as far away as you can from the danger area
  • Do not approach or touch any spilled liquids, airborne mists, or solid chemicals
  • Try not to inhale gases, fumes and smoke – cover mouth with a cloth
  • Stay away from accident victims until the hazardous material has been identified

If in a vehicle:

  • Stop and seek shelter in a permanent building if possible
  • If that is not possible, remain in your vehicle
  • Keep windows and vents closed and shut off the air conditioner and heater

If fumes threaten you:

  • Evacuate the area immediately if instructed to do so by local authorities
  • If not ordered to evacuate, stay indoors with the building sealed as much as possible
  • If time permits, close all windows, shut vents, and shut off heating / air conditioning
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing adverse health symptoms

 

 Make a Plan

Having a family emergency plan will save time and make real situations less stressful. Every Canadian household needs an emergency plan. 

These are some of the things that you can do to make an emergency plan for you and your family:

  • Review the Emergency Preparedness Guide
  • Meet with household members and discuss the dangers of possible emergency events in your community
  • Plan how your family would stay in contact if separated by identifying an out-of-town contact such as a family friend, aunt, etc.
  • Plan where your family could stay if you had to leave your home quickly; can you take your pet there? This could be a relative outside of your area, or good friends also away from your home or city. Many people will stay with family during emergencies. 
  • Older children and adults should know how to turn off your home's water, electricity and gas at main switches. If for any reason you do turn off natural gas service to your home, call your local gas utility to restore service. NEVER attempt to restore gas service yourself.
  • Create and post emergency contact numbers near all telephones. 
  • Choose an out-of-area contact for when there’s an emergency in your area
  • Take a Basic First Aid and CPR class. These are often available through organizations such as the Canadian Red Cross, Heart and Stroke Foundation and St. John Ambulance (York Region branch).
  • Review property insurance policies to make sure they are current and meet your needs (type of coverage, amount of coverage, hazards covered).
  • Think about the needs of any household members who have disabilities or special health considerations. You may have to take extra steps to ensure their comfort and safety in an emergency.
  • Make copies of and protect family records (passports, birth certificates, etc.) by keeping them in a waterproof and fireproof safe, and/or scan and save important documents on a flash drive.
  • Make emergency kits, ahead of an emergency (see page 21 for a checklist).
  • If you have older adults in your home or family, learn about the Seniors to Go! Emergency Preparedness Tool Kit
  • And remember to include your pets in your plan!

Take 20 minutes and make your family emergency plan online. You can then print it out.

 Get a Kit

Everyone should be prepared to be without essential services like heat, hydro, water and emergency services. Ideally, everyone in Richmond Hill should be prepared to be without these services for 72-hours. You should also have a 'Go-Bag' ready in case you need to evacuate quickly. Prepare an emergency kit for each member of your family

Remember to review and update your emergency plan every year, and replenish food and water in your emergency kits to ensure they do not expire.

Pet Emergency Preparedness

If you are like millions of animal owners nationwide, your pet is an important member of your household. The likelihood that you and your animals will survive an emergency such as a fire or flood, tornado or terrorist attack depends largely on emergency planning done today. Prepare for emergencies now. Plan for an emergency to keep your pet safe and to reduce the stress or fear they may feel. Bring your pet indoors as soon as an emergency happens or when you are warned about stormy weather.

 Prepare your pet for an emergency

There are a lot of things you can do to prepare for an emergency including:

  • Contact hotels or motels in the areas around Richmond Hill to ask about their pet policy and be sure to ask if they change during an emergency
  • Make a pet evacuation emergency kit and include a list of pet-friendly places, with phone numbers
  • Ask people you trust if they would be able to shelter your pet in the event of an emergency where you cannot stay with them
  • Start a buddy system with a neighbour or friend who has pets and lives nearby so one of you can take care of the pets when the other is not able to stay home during an emergency
  • Ask local animal shelters if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets during a disaster (this should be a last resort)
 Plan for Evacuation

You might have to leave your home during an emergency so it's important to plan how you will move your pet to safety. Your pet may act differently in a stressful situation. They might panic, hide or try to escape. Some pets may even bite or scratch you. Keep these tips in mind during an emergency:

  • keep your pet leashed to keep them from trying to escape
  • move your cats in their carriers
  • do not leave your pet alone
  • keep your pet close and comfort them
 Pet Emergency Kit

Just as you do with your family’s emergency supply kit, think first about the basics for survival, particularly food and water. Be sure to review your kits regularly to ensure that their contents, especially foods and medicines, are fresh.

Your kit should include:

  • your pet's medication, vaccination and medical records in a waterproof container
  • a pet first-aid kit
  • leashes, harnesses or carriers to move your pet safely
  • food, water, treats, bowls and can opener
  • cat litter and pan
  • lists of your pet's medical conditions, feeding schedule, behaviour problems and the name and number of your pet's veterinarian in case your pet must stay with someone else
  • current photos of your pet in case they get lost
  • pet bed and toys that can easily be moved and carried
  • towels and garbage bags
  • blanket
  • a container for your kit that is labelled and easy to carry - let all family members know where the kit is
 During an Emergency
  • Keep your pet inside during severe weather. Animals are very sensitive to sudden changes in temperature and often isolate themselves when scared. Never leave a pet outside or tethered during a storm.
  • Separate cats and dogs. Keep smaller pets such as hamsters away from larger animals. Stress can lead to unusual behaviour.
  • Don’t leave animals unattended anywhere they can run off. The most trustworthy pets may panic, hide, and try to escape or even bite or scratch.
  • When you return home, give your pets time to settle back into their routines. Consult your veterinarian if any behaviour problems persist.

Emergency numbers

Call 9-1-1 if you need immediate help from fire, police or ambulance services. For all other matters or for more information, you can call the following non-emergency numbers:

Call Access Richmond Hill at 905-771-8800 to request information in another language.

For more information about Emergency Preparedness:

Learn about our Fire and Emergency Services.