We all have a responsibility to prepare for emergencies. At home, this requires an understanding of everyone’s unique needs, supplies to take care of yourself for a period of at least 72 hours, that’s 3 days, while emergency workers help those in urgent need. Also required are detailed plans on what you will do if there is an emergency. At work, your emergency planning should include procedures to deal with a disruption, and an understanding of how specific hazards would impact your business.
- What are the risks
- Prepare at home
- Prepare at work
- Prepare for specific emergencies
What are the risks
Manitoba is a large and varied province, with everything from arctic tundra to vast bodies of water to expansive prairies. Our unique geography and varied climates results in a wide range of potential hazards, with many unique regional and local variances.
Overland river flooding is one of Manitoba’s most regular emergency, especially during the spring run-off period. Severe weather is a threat at all times of the year for all parts of the province, with the potential for tornadoes, blizzards, windstorms, freezing rain and hail. Wildfires are a potential hazard in all parts of the province, and northern regions are regularly impacted by large forest fires.
Besides these natural hazards, there is also the possibility of human-caused emergencies, such as fires, chemical and hazardous materials accidents, terrorist attacks, infrastructure or utility failures, and transportation accidents.
It’s important to understand both the probability and severity of the hazards in the place you live. Starting with a basic level of ‘all hazard’ emergency planning that can be modified to deal with emergencies as they arise, your understanding of hazards will allow for detailed planning to prepare for those that are priority concerns.
Prepare At Home
Emergency preparedness is initially a personal responsibility. While governments have resources available to assist as an emergency escalates, individuals are expected to have made plans and take steps to secure the safety of themselves, their families, and any other responsibilities.
It’s often said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that’s certainly the case for emergency preparedness – a little bit of effort is worth a lot of peace-of-mind, and will be an invaluable resource if you are impacted by a disaster. Some basic measures to prepare your home for an emergency include keeping a supply of food, water and medication to last for at least a 72 hour period, along with some basic necessities like a radio, flashlight, and toiletries. Review the Emergency Kit page which describes how to make an emergency kit. Also review or print the emergency preparedness brochures from the Brochures and Downloads page. Visit the Get Prepared website for additional information.
Every business and organization can experience a serious incident which can prevent it from continuing normal operations. This this can happen any day at any time. At work, your emergency preparedness should include the development of a Business Continuity Planning (BCP) program to identify your essential services, when they need to be delivered, and how your employees will respond when there is a disruption. Business Continuity Planning is a component of emergency planning that is intended to minimize the impacts of a disruption on business activities.
In the same way that the generally-accepted best practices for emergency planning call for a flexible, adaptable ‘all-hazard’; approach to dealing with disruptions, BCP is designed to help an organization continue providing its basic and most critical functions during a disruption. This requires an understanding of your obligations to those who depend on your services, the exposure to risk your organization is willing to tolerate, and the requirements (such as equipment, data, personnel and facilities) required to deliver the required services. From this, a plan is prepared to identify the tasks, procedures and organization required to work through a disruption. A thorough BCP also includes provisions for returning to a normal state-of-operations after a disruption has occurred.
Whatever the size of your organization or the nature of your business, an investment in BCP will improve your ability to minimize losses, meet obligations, and build confidence from the people who depend on your services. A Guide to Business Continuity Planning provides a summary and general advice for Business Continuity Planning.
For Specific Emergencies
- Severe Storms
- Winter Power Failures
- Wilderness Travel
- Forest Fires
- Bomb Threats
- Chemical Releases>
- Suspicious Packages
In the last half-century, the most severe emergencies in Manitoba were floods. Floods in 1950, 1997 and 2011 resulted in extensive property damage, evacuations, and emergency operations to protect people and communities. Overland flooding is a regular annual occurrence in most of our province, and has resulted in a significant investment in mitigation and planning.
If you live in a flood-prone area, the best way to minimize damage is to mitigate the risk. Remembering that you have primary responsibility for emergency preparedness, consider what you can do to reduce damages and protect your home and property. You should also be making plans to evacuate your home and family if a severe flood develops. While municipal and provincial assistance will be available in such cases, planning ahead is valuable and necessary.
Severe weather can develop in any season, and has the potential to close roads and facilities, damage our utilities, and severely damage property. Manitoba has a long record of severe weather, including blizzards, tornadoes, heavy rain, windstorms, hail, and thunderstorms. They can occur at any time, and present a serious threat to life and property.
The best way to prepare for a severe weather event is to make a commitment to emergency preparedness in your home. It is also a good idea to consider the severe weather hazards that might arise with seasonal changes, and to take simple steps around your home to minimize the risk of damage. Monitoring weather conditions and forecasts will give you a chance to prepare for a severe weather emergency before it happens.
Environment Canada reports that Manitoba gets 7-10 tornadoes every year. While tornadoes damage a relatively small area, they present an extremely dangerous threat with strong winds and flying debris.
It’s important to make plans ahead of time on where you will shelter in your home, and what basic steps you should take to protect your home and family from harm if there is a tornado threat.
The failure of any utility would result in severe disruptions. While there have been investments to protect these systems and extensive planning to manage the emergency if there was a failure, we’ve had many examples – such as the Quebec ice storm – of the widespread impact of a utility failure. A power failure in winter is a serious concern in Manitoba, where we regularly experience extended and extreme periods of cold weather.
See the Prepared for the Woods brochure for information on basic precautions that can help protect you on trips into the wilderness.
Forest fire season in Manitoba can run from spring to fall. People living in close proximity to forested areas or using such area for recreational purposes need to know how to protect themselves in the event of a forest fire.
Tips for wildland fire protection
- avoid building fires on days of low humidity and high temperature
- observe burning authorizations recommended for your area by Manitoba Conservation
- do not build fires close to homes or other property
- build fires away from trees and dry bushes
- never leave a fire unattended
- always make sure a fire is completely put out before leaving
- battery-operated radio
- spare batteries
- first aid kit and essential medication
- emergency food and water
- children’s emergency supplies (e.g. formula and diapers)
- review you family’s emergency plan and contact information
During Forest Fire Incidents
To protect yourself and your family during fire emergencies:
- be ready to evacuate all family members, including pets
- minimize smoke inhalation in the home by closing all windows and doors. A wet towel along the window and door seams will minimize smoke even further.
- keep the radio on so you can access information about the potential emergency situation
- stay in touch with your local emergency management offices and follow directions provided
If you must evacuate:
- follow closely all instructions provided by local authorities
- make sure you know the safe evacuation routes
- find out the destination reception centers before you leave (listen for media announcements)
- if there is time, shut off the water, gas and electricity
Bomb threats require immediate action. You should already have a fire evacuation plan for your home and work – this is a good starting point in developing procedures to deal with a bomb threat.
Chemical releases and hazardous materials incidents can vary greatly, and may require a wide range of actions if an accidental release occurs. In addition to developing a good level of general preparedness, it’s also important to understand some of the potentially hazardous substances near your home or office, and what actions might be required to protect yourself.
While all public health emergencies are cause for concern, there has been a particular focus on the threat of a pandemic influenza in recent years. In addition to leading a range of pandemic planning activities, the Government of Manitoba has developed a number of tools to provide the best possible forecast of what a pandemic influenza will be like, and to guide individuals, schools, and businesses as they prepare.