Preparation is the key to safety in an emergency situation.
Suppose you were suddenly cut off from all basic services. No water to drink. No gas or electricity to heat your home. No phone to contact family and friends. Would you know what to do?
Do you have an emergency plan? Emergencies can strike quickly and without warning. The key to being safe is preparation. A well-thought-out emergency plan is crucial in the early stages of an unforeseen event.
Manitoba’s Emergency Management Organization takes the lead role in organizing and providing rapid relief in the event of natural disasters or other emergencies. However, in a large-scale emergency, it may still take some time to reach everyone who needs assistance. By having an emergency plan, we put ourselves in the best position to cope with the initial impact of an emergency situation, while first responders attend to the most urgent cases.
Although disasters pose a threat to all of us, the risks can be considerably higher for seniors and older adults who have limited mobility, chronic health conditions or age-related illnesses.
Don’t wait till disaster strikes – make your emergency plan today.
Here are a few things you should have in your emergency plan:
- If possible, keep a record of medical conditions, allergies and current medications with you at all times. Put your current medications beside an overnight toiletries bag, so you can easily grab them and go.
- Make sure you have a generous supply of medication to hold you over and a plan to refill your prescriptions.
- Collect all important documents (for example: identification, health documents, insurance papers and policies, emergency contacts). Put them in a waterproof container, in a place you can easily access.
- Discuss your emergency plan with family, friends, neighbours and your emergency contacts.
- Learn about your community’s emergency plans, warning signals, evacuation routes and locations of emergency shelters.
- Learn how to turn off your home’s water, gas and electricity services.
- If you have pets, make sure they’re included in your emergency plan. Note that some emergency shelters may not allow animals, so plan an alternative in advance.
One of the most important things you can do in preparing for a disaster is to put together an emergency supplies kit. Include items like:
- a flashlight
- a three-day supply of water and non-perishable (canned) food
- a first-aid kit
- a manual can opener
- waterproof matches
- a battery-powered radio
- a pocket knife
- hearing aids and batteries
- incontinence products
- an extra set of keys
- some money
- a change of clothing
- sleeping bags
- an extra pair of eyeglasses
- a list of family physicians and important family information
- a list of all medical devices (for example, pacemakers) and their style and serial numbers
Make sure you also have an evacuation plan, and practice it at least once a year.
For more information about emergency preparedness, and how to develop a plan or prepare an emergency kit:
- Contact the Manitoba Emergency Management Organization at 204-945-4772, toll free 1-888-267-8298; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.gov.mb.ca/emo/index.html
- Download a copy of Emergency Information for Seniors from the seniors and healthy aging secretariat website at www.gov.mb.ca/shas.
As always, I invite you to contact the seniors information line if you have questions or comments, or need further information. Call 204-945-6565 in Winnipeg; toll free 1-800-665-6565.
Hon. Deanne Crothers is Minister of Healthy Living and Seniors.