The City of Burlington has plans and programs to protect the community during emergencies. In partnership with local first responders, health organizations, social services, utilities and volunteer groups, the City is always working to be prepared. We do this through testing, training and updating the emergency plans and programs to make sure we are ready for any emergency that happens in our community.
No matter how prepared we are, we can't predict an emergency or disaster, but we can all take steps to reduce the impact of any situation that comes our way.
Section 2.1 of the Provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) requires municipalities to develop and implement an emergency management program and adopt it through a by-law. The City of Burlington has a formal Community Emergency Management Program to deal with major emergencies.
|Municipal Emergency Management Program Committee|
The Municipal Emergency Management Program Committee manages and makes sure the city's Emergency Management Program is carried out. Not only does this help us prepare for emergencies but it also meets the requirements of theEmergency Management and Civil Protection Act and Ontario Regulation 380/04. This says that municipalities must perform specified activities at least once a year to meet legislated standards.The Emergency Management Programsets up a continuous improvement process to develop, implement, maintain and evaluate emergency management and ongoing operations programs that talk to prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery that meet and go beyond the requirements of regulation 380/04.
|Municipal Emergency Management Team|
City staff members from key areas work together on the Municipal Emergency Management Team to deal with community emergencies and disasters. In the event of a community emergency, the Municipal Emergency Management Team meets at the City's Emergency Operations Centre, where the emergency is strategically managed to help the on-scene emergency responders.
The City has community emergency plans and procedures and provides emergency training and exercises on a regular basis so all members of the City's Municipal Emergency Management Team are fully trained and able to deal with emergency and disaster situations.
The City of Burlington's Emergency Response Plan outlines roles and responsibilities of the Municipal Emergency Management Team and essential services to make sure they are provided to the community throughout an emergency or disaster.
This also includes a public education program to help you and your neighbours prepare your family for emergencies and disasters.
City of Burlington's Emergency Management Bylaw
Read the City of Burlington's emergency plan [PDF].
|In an Emergency|
During an emergency, knowing what to do will help you stay safe and in better control of the situation.
|Emergency Shelter-in-place |
If there is an emergency from a spill or a fire from a hazardous spill you may be evacuated or be advised to "shelter-in-place".
"Shelter-in-place" means that you must stay indoors when there is hazardous material in the air. You should move out of the way of smoke or fumes and stay indoors. DO NOT go through smoke or fumes. Staying inside a building or vehicle can reduce your exposure to 10 per cent. Here's how to stay safe during a spill or fumes:
- close all doors and windows tightly
- shut off air conditioners, fans, and close all dampers, etc. which bring air into your home from the outside
- do not use kitchen fans, bathroom vents, clothes dryers, fireplaces, etc.
- close all inside doors
- place wet towels under doors to keep smoke and fumes out of your home
- if you smell or see fumes, cover your mouth and nose with a wet handkerchief or towel
- monitor your radio or television for additional information or instructions
Leave your home and evacuate only if you are told to do so and stay away from any spills or fires.
Listen to the advice of local officials on the radio or television to know what steps you will need to take to protect yourself.
| Emergency Evacuation|
During some emergencies, it may be necessary to evacuate the emergency and surrounding area. An emergency evacuation centre may be set up to offer shelter and food to people affected by the emergency. If there were a need to be evacuated, you would be notified by media announcements, social media or emergency workers.
- keep phone lines open for use by emergency workers
- listen to local radio, television or social media for emergency instructions and up to date information.
- assemble the food and supplies you plan to take with you, referring to lists of family medications, records and irreplaceable items (see Develop a Family Emergency Plan)
- follow instructions of your local authority about whether to switch off utility services and gas and propane appliances
- follow instructions and advice of your municipal government; if you are asked to evacuate, do so quickly
- travel only on routes that are specified or recommended by your local municipality
A reception centre may be set up to offer food, shelter and information to people affected by an emergency. If you are going somewhere other than the reception centre, let the reception centre or municipal government know of your location.
|After an Emergency|
Right after an emergency, you may feel worried , confused and disoriented. These are perfectly normal reactions. If you are informed and prepared, you will be able to recover more quickly and you can help others do the same.
The following steps will help you get back on track:
Help the injured
Ensure to help anyone who is hurt, and call 911 if necessary.
Check on your neighbours
It's very important to check on your neighbours, especially the elderly or people with disabilities.
Listen to your local radio station or check local websites and social media feeds for updates.
Try not to use the telephone
Don't use the telephone unless it is absolutely necessary, as emergency crews will need all available lines. For non-emergency information call 311 instead of 911.
Check your home
Carefully check for damage to your home, and don't enter any structure you believe is not safe, structurally unsound or contains a hazard or harmful materials.
Remember the following points:
- Make sure to check for fires and fire hazards.
- Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater. If you smell gas, turn off the main gas valve, open windows and get everyone outside quickly. For information on safe steps for shutting off the main gas valve, contact your gas company.
- Use a flashlight; never light matches or turn on the electrical switches if you suspect damage or smell gas.
- Ensure you shut off any other damaged utilities. For information on safe steps for turning off utilities, contact your utility provider.
- Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline and other flammable liquids right away, and wear protective clothing. For major spills or leaks, call for professional help.
- Take care to confine or secure your pets to keep them safe.
Remember, if you turn off the gas, a professional from the gas company should turn it back on.
|Prepare for Specific Emergencies|
Not all emergencies are the same. Look through our summary guides below to prepare for specific emergencies
Turn everything off
- Turn the thermostat(s) down to minimum and turn off all appliances, electronic equipment and tools to prevent injury, damage to equipment and fire. Power can be restored more easily when the system is not overloaded.
- Do not use barbecues or camping heating equipment or home generators indoors.
Use a flashlight
- If you must use candles, be sure to use proper candleholders.
- Never leave lit candles unattended.
Generators are an option for backup electricity, however:
- They should never be used indoors.
- They require frequent maintenance (including frequent oil changes).
- They must be installed and connected to your main panel (not directly to your wiring system) by a qualified electrician. Get any such installation inspected by the Electrical Safety Authority.
Alert: Using food when the power goes off
- First, use fresh foods, including those in the refrigerator.
- Second, use frozen foods from the freezer. To minimize the number of times you open the fridge and freezer doors, post a list of contents on the outside of the door.
- If you have frozen water containers in the freezer, move them into the fridge to help keep the temperature cool.
- Third, use canned and dried foods.
Alert: Cooking without electricity
- Never use cooking equipment meant for outdoor use inside your home. This could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Before using a fireplace after an earthquake, have your chimney and flue inspected for cracks. Sparks may escape through a small crack and start a fire in the wall or attic.
Winter Power Failure:
If a power outage leaves you without heat for some time, your pipes could freeze or burst. Here are a few tips to prevent this:
- Ensure that you drain the pipes and shut off the main water supply
- As you drain your pipes you may want to collect the water in clean containers for drinking and cleaning purposes.
- Make sure to open all faucets including your water heater.
- If your water heater is electric, drain the hot water heating system by turning it off and leaving the valves open.
- Take care to add plumbing antifreeze to the toilet and other pipes with standing water.
If you have a septic tank, antifreeze could cause damage to it. Make sure you pump the chemical from the plumbing fixtures and pipes before they are refilled with water.
Energy Conservation Recommendations
Conserve power to help avoid a brownout / blackout. The power industry recommends:
- During the winter, set the furnace thermostat at 20c (68f) degrees or lower.
- During the summer, set the air conditioner thermostat at 25c (78f) degrees or higher.
- Consider installing a programmable thermostat that you can set to have the furnace or air conditioning run only when you are at home. Most power is used by heating and cooling, so adjusting the temperatures on your thermostat is the best way you can conserve energy.
- Make sure to close windows when the heating or cooling system is on.
- Don't forget to clean or replace furnace and air-conditioner filters regularly.
- You should always off all lights and computers when they are not in use. This is especially true about computer monitors. Instead of using the "screen saver" mode, turn off the monitor when you won't be using the computer for awhile. Take care to turn the computer off each evening. It is no longer true that computer equipment is damaged from turning it off and on.
- If you need to wash clothes, wash only full loads and clean the dryer's lint trap after each use.
- When using a dishwasher, wash full loads and use the "light" cycle. If possible, use the "rinse only" cycle and turn off the "high temperature" rinse option. When the regular wash cycle is done, open the dishwasher door to let the dishes air-dry.
- Incandescent light bulbs should be replaced with energy-efficient compact fluorescent or LED lights.
- Using one large light bulb rather than several smaller ones is more energy-efficient.
|Severe Winter Storm|
Severe winter storms can cause widespread damage and disruption. Heavy snow often causes the slowing or shutting down of public transit, car accidents and stranded vehicles. When a winter storm has strong winds and extreme cold, snow can isolate entire communities. Bitter cold and severe winter storms kill more than 100 people in Canada every year. That is more than the number of Canadians killed by tornadoes, thunderstorms, lightning, floods, hurricanes and heat waves combined.
Ice storms are often winter's worst danger. The severity of ice storms depends on the buildup of ice, the length of the event, and the location and size of the area affected.
During a blizzard, winds can blow snow into drifts that can bury people, animals and belongings. The weight of heavy snowfall can also cause the collapse of buildings. A blizzard that lasts a long time may form whiteouts, where so much snow falls it is hard to tell the ground from the sky.
If you are indoors
- It is crucial to stay indoors, and only travel when absolutely necessary.
- It is easier to keep a smaller space warm. During an ice storm, close off most rooms but a few, to keep warm.
- Listen for radio and television broadcasts of storm warnings to stay informed.
If you are outdoors
- If you have to go outdoors, prepare yourself against the cold and find shelter as soon as possible. Make sure you have the right clothing to protect you from the storm. Several lightweight layers give more warmth than a single heavy coat. Try thermal underwear, a turtleneck, a medium sweater, and a jacket.
- It is important to wear a hat to prevent heat loss, and cover your mouth to protect your lungs. It is also criticl to wear gloves and hiking or snow boots.
- Always tell someone where you are going, how you are getting there and when you think you will arrive. This way, someone will know where you might be if you are stranded.
If you are in a vehicle
- Travel can be dangerous during a severe storm.
- If you hear news of a blizzard warning, find shelter as soon as possible.
- If you are stuck in your car, stay with the vehicle.
- Provide a signal to rescuers such as a bright cloth tied onto the vehicle.
- Keep the window open a crack for fresh air.
- Stay warm by moving your arms and legs, keeping the blood flowing.
- Start the car engine once every hour, and use the heater for ten minutes.
- When the engine is running, leave the dome light on.
- Keep the exhaust pipe clear so that fumes can escape.
- Always tell someone where you are going, how you are getting there, and when you think you will arrive.
|Severe Lightning Storm|
Thunderstorms bring a wide range of threats. These include hail, lightning, strong winds and heavy rainfall. All of these dangers can result in property damage, injuries or dealths. React right away when you first see lightning, hear thunder or are given some other warning. There are a few simple precautions that you can take to protect yourself
If you are indoors
- If you are inside a building, stay inside.
- Large hailstones can shatter windows, so stay away from windows, skylights and doors.
- Unplug all TVs, radios, toasters and other electrical appliances.
- Do not use the phone during the storm and do not touch metal objects like radiators, stoves, metal pipes, sinks or other potential conductors of electricity.
- If the storm is a safe distance away, close your drapes, blinds or window shades to prevent the wind from blowing broken glass inside, and consider unplugging televisions and other electrical appliances that do not have surge protectors.
If you are outdoors
- It is critical to find shelter right away. Go to a building or vehicle; large enclosed structures tend to be much safer than smaller open structures.
- Stay away from water, high ground, isolated trees, picnic shelters and open spaces.
- If lightning strikes when you are outside, crouch down and put your feet together to reduce your contact with the ground. Do not lie down.
- Take care to keep away from telephone and power lines, fences, trees and hilltops.
- Ensure that you get off bicycles, motorcycles, golf carts and tractors.
If you are in a vehicle
- Stop the car safely at the side of the road and stay there.
- Completely close all windows and do not touch any metal objects.
- Do not park near power line or trees which could fall.
|Flood or Flash Flood|
What is a flash flood?
Flash floods happen when intense thunderstorms drop a large amount of water in a short time. Flash floods occur with little or no warning. When there is flooding in a city, streets can become swiftly-moving rivers and basements can fill with water.
If you are indoors
- Turn off your basement furnace and outside gas valve.
- Make sure all basement windows are closed.
- Turn power off to circuit breaker or fuse box.
- If the area is wet, stand on a dry board and shut off power with a dry wooden stick.
- Move all your furniture, electrical appliances and other belongings to higher levels.
- Remove any toilet bowl water and plug basement sewer drains and toilet connection.
- Turn on a battery-operated radio or television and listen for the latest emergency information.
- If told to leave or evaculate, get your disaster safety kit and go immediately to the designated shelter. Be sure to follow the recommended evacuation routes. Never take shortcuts as these roads may be flooded.
If you are outdoors
- Always make sure you are on firm ground whether you are walking or driving.
- Quickly move towards high ground, but stay away from flood areas.
- Climb to high ground in a very visible and safe area.
- Never cross floodwaters; water even as shallow as 15 cm could sweep you off your feet.
If you are in a vehicle
- Travel carefully and only if absolutely needed through flooded areas where roads may be washed away.
- If you come across a flooded road, take a different route as the fast-moving water could sweep you away.
- If you become caught in fast-rising floodwaters and your vehicle stalls, leave it and move yourself and your passengers to higher ground.
- Avoid remaining in your car. As little as 60 cm of water can carry a car away.
Tornadoes result from hot, humid weather meeting a cold front. With these conditions, a tornado could be imminent. A funnel cloud hanging from a dark cloud may appear before the tornado actually occurs. A tornado may be accompanied by lightning, high winds and hail.
If you are indoors
- Go to the basement, storm cellar or the lowest level of the home right away. If there is no basement, go to a closet, a bathroom or under a staircase.
- Stay away from all windows and doors.
- Get under a sturdy piece of furniture, such as a workbench or a heavy table. Hold onto the furniture with one hand and use the other arm to protect your head and neck from falling or flying objects.
- If you are in an office or apartment building take cover in an inner hallway or room, ideally in the basement or on the ground floor. Do not use the elevator and stay away from windows.
- Avoid being in the corners of the room because they attract debris.
- If in a mobile home, get out and find cover somewhere else.
If you are outdoors
- If you can, get inside a building.
- If there is no shelter, lie down in a ditch or ravine.
- Use your arms to protect your head and neck.
- Stay away from bridges and overpasses.
If you are in a vehicle
- Never try to out-drive a tornado. Tornadoes can change direction suddenly and could lift up the car and toss it through the air.
- Immediately stop the car and turn off the engine.
- Get out of the car and seek cover in a building, ditch or ravine.
|Infectious Disease Outbreak|
In case of a respiratory (airborne) infectious disease outbreak, the most important thing to do is to listen to the radio and follow recommendations to prevent and contain the spread of the disease.
Respiratory infections are generally spread by small droplets in the air that can stay on surfaces. To prevent the spread:
- cover your mouth when you cough/sneeze (with a tissue or into your elbow)
- wash your hands often , or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner
- limit contact with others
- when contact is necessary, keep at least a metre away from others
- clean surfaces and contact points (contact points include door knobs, counters and other high traffic areas)