Using technology during a disaster
We rely on technology more and more to keep in touch with our family, friends, and colleagues with a click of a button.
But what happens in the event of a major emergency? Suddenly these tools can become vital in helping you and your family deal get in touch and stay informed. So here are some tips on the use of technology in an emergency:
- If possible, use non-voice channels like text messaging, email or social media. These use less bandwidth than voice communications and may work even when phone service doesn’t.
- If you must use a phone, keep your conversation brief and convey only vital information to emergency personnel and/or family. This will also conserve your phone’s battery.
- Unable to complete a call? Wait 10 seconds before redialing to help reduce network congestion. Note, cordless phones rely on electricity and will not work during a power outage. If you have a landline, keep at least one corded phone in your home.
- Keep extra batteries or a charger for your mobile device in your emergency kit. Consider getting a solar-powered, crank, or vehicle phone charger. If you don’t have a cell phone, keep a prepaid phone card in your emergency kit.
- Keep your contacts up to date on your phone, email and other channels. This will make it easier to reach important contacts, such as friends, family, neighbours, child’s school, or insurance agent.
- If you have a smartphone, save your safe meeting location(s) on its mapping application.
- Conserve your smartphone’s battery by reducing the screen’s brightness, placing your phone in airplane mode, and closing apps you are not using. You never know how long a power outage will last!
Remember, in an emergency or to save a life, call 9-1-1 for help. You cannot currently text 9-1-1. If you are not experiencing an emergency, do not call 9-1-1. If your area offers 3-1-1 service or another information system, call that number for non-emergencies.
Facts about emergency preparedness
Emergency Preparedness Week 2012 marks the 17th annual event. Here are some interesting facts to mark 17 years of getting better prepared for emergencies.
- Roughly 5,000 earthquakes are recorded in Canada every year.
- Canada gets more tornadoes than any other country except the U.S., averaging about 50 tornadoes per year.
- The worldwide cost of natural disasters has skyrocketed from $2 billion in the 1980s, to $27 billion over the past decade.
- Canada’s first billion dollar disaster, the Saguenay flood of 1996, triggered a surge of water, rocks, trees and mud that forced 12,000 residents to evacuate their homes.
- Some hailstones are the size of peas while others can be as big as baseballs.
- Approximately 85% of Canadians agree that having an emergency kit is important in ensuring their and their family’s safety, yet only four in ten have prepared or bought an emergency kit.
- In 2011, flooding in Manitoba and Saskatchewan featured the highest water levels and flows in modern history. Over 11,000 residents were displaced from their homes.
- Ice, branches or power lines can continue to break and fall for several hours after the end of an ice storm.
- The deadliest heat wave in Canadian history produced temperatures exceeding 44ºC in Manitoba and Ontario in 1936. Rail lines and bridge girders twisted, sidewalks buckled, crops wilted and fruit baked on trees.
- In 2007, the Prairies experienced 410 severe weather events including tornadoes, heavy rain, wind and hail, nearly double the yearly average of 221 events.
- The coldest temperature reached in North America was –63ºC, recorded in 1947 in Snag, Yukon.
- The largest landslide in Canada involved 185 million m3 of material and created a 40m deep scar that covered the size of 80 city blocks in 1894 at Saint-Alban, Quebec.
- Hurricanes are bigger and cause more widespread damage than tornadoes (a very large system can be up to 1,000 kilometres wide).
- 85% of Canadians agree that having an emergency plan is important in ensuring their and their family’s safety, yet on only 40% have prepared one. Complete yours online at http://www.GetPrepared.ca.
- One of the most destructive and disruptive storms in Canadian history was the 1998 ice storm in Eastern Canada causing hardship for 4 million people and costing $3 billion. Power outages lasted for up to 4 weeks.
- The June 23, 2010 earthquake in Val-des-Bois, Quebec produced the strongest shaking ever experienced in Ottawa and was felt as far away as Kentucky in the United States.
- Using non-voice communication technology like text messaging, email, or social media instead of telephones takes up less bandwidth and helps reduce network congestion after an emergency.
Emergency Management in Canada: How does it work?
In a country that borders on three oceans and spans six time zones, creating an emergency response system that works for every region is a huge challenge. That’s why emergency management in Canada is a shared responsibility. That means everyone has an important role to play, including individuals, communities, governments, the private sector and volunteer organizations.
Basic emergency preparedness starts with each individual. If someone cannot cope, emergency first responders such as police, -re and ambulance services will provide help. If the municipality needs additional assistance or resources, they can call on provincial/territorial emergency management organizations, who can seek assistance from the federal government if the emergency escalates beyond their capabilities. Depending on the situation, federal assistance could include policing, national defence and border security, and environmental and health protection.
Requests for assistance from provincial/territorial authorities are managed through Public Safety Canada, which maintains close operational links with the provinces and territories. It can take just a few minutes for the response to move from the local to the national level, ensuring that the right resources and expertise are identified and triggered.
Everyone responsible for Canada’s emergency management system shares the common goal of preventing or managing disasters. Public Safety Canada is responsible for coordinating emergency response eorts on behalf of the federal government. More information is available on the Public Safety web site at www.publicsafety.gc.ca (click on “Emergency Management”).
This week, I encourage you to take concrete actions to be better prepared. Please do your part! Experience has shown that individual preparedness goes a long way to help people cope better – both during and after a major disaster. Get an emergency kit now – it can make a world of difference.
1. A family emergency plan should NOT include which of the following?
- Information about your children’s school(s)
- The name and phone number of an out-of-town contact person
- A list of important phone numbers, including those of doctors and emergency services
- Arrangements for each person in the family to be at a specific land line telephone at a specific time
- A meeting spot outside your home and one outside your neighbourhood in case you need to leave the area
The answer is D. The arrangements for each family member to be at a specific land line telephone at a specific time may not be possible or useful under many conditions, as people may have to relocate or evacuate entirely during a disaster. Families should create an emergency plan and carry important information with them so they know how to get in touch and get back together during an emergency. Finally, both telephone land lines and cellular phones may be overloaded or out of service during or after an emergency, so knowing in advance where to meet is important.
2. How many litres of water per day per person should you have in your basic emergency kit?
- 1 litre per day per person
- 3 litres per day per person
- 2 litres per day per person
- 4 litres per day per person
The answer is C. At least two litres of water are recommended per person per day. (Include small bottles that can be carried easily in case of an evacuation order.)
3. Which tool allows you to learn about historical information on disasters which have directly affected Canadians, at home and abroad, over the past century?
- Canadian Disaster Database
- Natural Hazards and Emergency Response
- Disaster Management Canada
The answer is B. The Canadian Disaster Database references to all types of Canadian disasters, including those triggered by natural hazards, technological hazards or conflict (not including war). The database describes where and when a disaster occurred, who was affected, and provides a rough estimate of the direct costs.
4. When does Emergency Preparedness Week (EP Week) occur?
- First full week of February
- First full week of September
- Last full week of February
- Last full week of May
- First full week of May
The answer is E. EP Week is an annual event that takes place each year during the first full week of May. This year it takes place from May 6-12, 2012. EP Week is a national awareness campaign coordinated by Public Safety Canada and is about increasing individual preparedness – by knowing the risks, making a plan and preparing a kit you can be better prepared for an emergency.
5. Which of the following items should NOT be included in a basic emergency supply kit?
- Water (two litres of water per person per day)
- Manual can opener
- Comfortable shoes
The answer is E. While sturdy protective shoes are important during and after a disaster, they are not necessary for survival. You can learn more about the basics of survival by visiting http://www.GetPrepared.ca.
Fact or Fiction: Are the following statements true or false?
Q1 – Water can be purified with soap.
False – Boil water for 10 minutes or disinfect water by adding unscented bleach. Add 3-4 drops of bleach per litre of water with an eyedropper (do not reuse eyedropper for any other purpose). Mix well and let stand for 30 minutes. The water should smell faintly of chlorine. If it does not, repeat the steps and leave for another 30 minutes.
Q2 – You can walk through moving flood waters as long as the water level is no higher than your waist.
False – One of the worst floods in Canada’s history occurred in July 1996 in the Saguenay River Valley, in Quebec. Ten people died and 15,825 others were evacuated when flood waters swept through thousands of homes, businesses, roads and bridges. The flood was caused by 36 straight hours of heavy rainfall, for a total accumulation of 290 mm (approximately to the knees). Estimated damages: $1.5 billion.
Q3 – Tape prevents window glass from shattering during a hurricane.
False – Storm shutters can be put into windows and exposed panes. This is the simplest and most economical way to protect your house.
Q4 – Roughly 5,000 earthquakes are recorded in Canada every year.
True – Although the most powerful earthquakes occur near the Pacific Rim, there are a number of Canadian cities that are vulnerable to earthquakes, particularly Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Victoria and Quebec City. Most of the injuries resulting from an earthquake are caused by falling objects. Use screw eyes and iron wire to hang frames and mirrors on walls.
Q5 – Tornadoes occur only in the spring.
False – Tornadoes occur most often in the spring and during the summer, but they may form any time of the year.
Q6 – Destructive hail storms occur most often in late spring and in the summer.
True – In June, most hail storms occur in southern Canada and the north central United States. Violent storms may deposit enough hail to completely cover the ground, damage crops or block storm sewers. Up to 2% of the value of crops is destroyed by hail every year
So do you have a 72 hour kit? After Reading this, can you spot a weakness in your plans, mine is needing to work on the pantry in terms of earthquakes this year.. we have had at least four earthquakes on the farm since we got it that have been felt and even heard, and I have not done near enough to make sure to protect my jars from falling and breaking.. I will update on this goal as I make process on it.. I am also currently rotating out my bottle drinking water, feels kinda weird to be taking plastic bottles with me as I normally drink out of the steel bottles but that water’s due date is coming and I am not going to throw it away, and we will replace it with fresh dated cases into our storage.. Remember, we can go without food for alot! longer then we can without water!