Emergency Preparedness

Preparing for Emergencies

All it takes is three simple steps to get prepared for emergencies:

1. Know the risks

Although the consequences of different disasters can be alike, knowing the risks in your region can help you better prepare. In Hamilton, we face a number of hazards, such as floods, and ice storms. In addition to natural disasters, there are other types of hazards, such as industrial or transportation accidents.

Top risks in Hamilton include:

2. Make a plan

Preparing for an emergency is important. By taking a few simple steps, you can become better prepared to face a range of emergencies and minimize the impact on yourself and your family.

  • Discuss how to prepare and respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live and work. Identify responsibilities for each member of your household.
  • Identify two places for your family to meet. One right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire. The other outside of your neighbourhood, in case you cannot return home.
  • Develop a plan so your family can stay in touch during an emergency. Include phone numbers for all family members, caregivers, and work, school, and daycare phone numbers, if applicable. Often long-distance phone calls are easier to make during an emergency. Identify an out-of-area contact that everyone in your family can call during an emergency to leave messages for the others.
  • Every family should have an emergency plan. Create your own plan online

Emergency Preparedness in Apartments and Condominiums

Make a plan
Emergencies can happen when you least expect them. That’s why it is important to develop an emergency plan and prepare yourself and your loved ones. The Emergency Preparedness Action Plan for your household should:

  • identify the building management’s name and contact phone number; location of emergency exits and where to assemble if the building is evacuated;
  • include information related to any special needs such as medical history and medications.

Build a kit
Make sure to have these suggested items on hand and store them in a location where they can be easily located and reached by everyone in your home:

  • food and water for all occupants and pets for at least 72 hours
  • extra clothing
  • a flashlight and radio
  • Towel or sheet to hang out of a window or balcony to identify your location to emergency services
  • copies of important documents including passports, bank account numbers, credit cards, health cards and photo IDs
  • cash on hand
  • cell phone or mobile device, with alternate battery, car charger or portable battery bank
  • required medications and child care supplies

Stay informed
Ontario’s Emergency Public Warning System is a tool that provides timely and accurate information to Ontario residents, businesses and visitors during an emergency. The system allows Ontarians to receive three types of warnings – Red Alerts, Emergency Information Advisories and Tornado Warnings.

If you must evacuate, follow the directions of building management and/or emergency personnel. If you have time and it is safe to do so:

  • take your emergency survival kit
  • turn off lights and appliances (except your refrigerator)
  • lock your doors

Learn about the emergency evacuation plans in place and what you will need to do. You may want to have some basic supplies at work, such as water and food that won’t spoil, in case you need to stay put for a while.

Check with your employer about workplace emergency plans, including:

  • Fire alarms
  • Emergency exits
  • Meeting points
  • Designated safety personnel or floor wardens.
  • Ask your children’s school or daycare about their emergency policies. Find out how they will contact families during an emergency.
  • Find out what type of authorization the school or daycare requires to release your children to a designated person if you can’t pick them up.
  • Make sure the school or daycare has updated contact information for parents, caregivers and designated persons.

Discuss your plan with family and friends and teach others about any special needs you may have. Think of what you will need if you are away from the home for 3 days or more. Prepare a kit to take with you that includes contact numbers, medications and special needs supplies.

Arrange for someone to check on you during an emergency.  If you have a pet or service animal ensure you have supplies for them too.

In case of an evacuation, remember that pets may not be allowed in some hotels or evacuation centres. In case of an evacuation, prepare to take your pets with you to the home of a relative or friend, or take steps to identify pet-friendly hotels or pet boarding facilities in your area and further away from home. Service animals will be allowed in evacuation centres.

3. Get an emergency kit

Prepare now. Don’t wait for an emergency to happen. Make your plan and create your kit to prepare yourself and your loved ones. Remember to check it regularly for expiration dates. In an emergency you will need some basic supplies. You may need to get by without power or tap water. Be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. Keep your kit in a backpack or suitcase with wheels in an easy-to-reach, accessible location such as a front hall closet. Ensure that everyone in the household knows where the emergency kit is.

In an emergency you will need some basic supplies. What do you require to ensure special needs are met?

Create a ‘go bag’ in case you have to evacuate your home

Consider the following items:

  • Battery powered radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Lightweight blankets
  • Emergency information, including insurance policies
  • A list of medications and correct dosage, and doctor’s names and numbers
  • Personal items such as toothbrushes, soap, extra eyeglasses, etc.
  • Cell phone and charger
  • First aid kit
  • Change of clothing
  • Non-perishable snacks
  • Books, cards or magazines to pass the time 
  • Cash
  • Extra keys for your car and house
  • Keep photocopies of important family records and documents in a waterproof, portable container
  • If applicable, infant supplies

Put aside a 3-day supply of food for your household


  • Balance - A balanced diet includes a variety of foods from each of the basic food groups. Include high energy foods (such as nuts and protein bars) and comfort foods (such as graham crackers or chocolate).
  • Usability - Choose items that don’t need to be cooled, heated, or need a lot of water. Examples include canned or dried meat, dry cereal, and canned vegetables. Make sure you have a manual can opener if you plan to use canned goods.
  • Shelf Life - Look at the expiration date listed on the food item. Use and replace foods before the expiration date.

Store a 72-hour supply of water

  • Have at least 2 litres per person per day. Include small bottles that can be carried easily in case of an evacuation order. Change your stored water supply every six months to ensure it stays fresh.

Recommended additional items include:

  • Two additional litres of water per person per day for cooking and cleaning
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each household member
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Utensils
  • Garbage bags
  • Toilet paper
  • Playing cards, games
  • A whistle in case you need to attract attention
  • Duct tape to tape up windows, doors and air vents

Talk with family to identify unique needs

What things could your household members not do without? Consider:

  • Infants and young children (Baby food, diapers, wipes, blanket or toy)
  • Prescription medication (keep a three day supply with you)
  • Health-related supplies (For example, diabetics need insulin syringes, alcohol wipes, and glucometer supplies)
  • Assistive devices (glasses, canes, etc.)

Consider those with disabilities 

  • Create a personal support network to assist during an emergency
  • If you have a service animal ensure you create a pet emergency kit for them
  • If you use a mobility device, include a tire patch kit, can of seal-in-air product, supply of inner tubes, pair of heavy gloves and a spare deep-cycle battery for motorized wheelchair or scooter
  • If you have a visual impairment, include an extra cane, talking or Braille clock and any reading devices/assistive technology to access information
  • If you have a hearing impairment include extra writing pads and pencils for communication, pre-printed key phrases you would use during an emergency, and extra batteries for assistive devices 

You should also consider keeping an emergency kit in your car. Items should include:

  • Snow brush, ice scraper and shovel
  • Booster cables
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Water and emergency food supply
  • Blanket
  • Spare warm clothing
  • Hat, mitts, scarf, and boots
  • Windshield wiper fluid and gas-line antifreeze
  • Sand, salt, cat litter or traction mats for ice
  • Emergency flares
  • Emergency contact numbers (including roadside assistance)
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Whistle
  • Spare fuel container (kept out of passenger area of the vehicle)
  • Road maps
  • Car charger or power bank for cellphone

You should also consider your pets as they can require different items than your emergency kit. Items should include:

  • Food and bowls
  • Can opener
  • Water
  • Blanket
  • Toys
  • Current pet photos
  • Litter pans, bags and scoop
  • Medications and medical records
  • Leashes, harness or carrier
  • Information on feeding schedules and behaviour
  • List of boarding facilities and pet-friendly hotels

Know where to get local emergency information

Alert Ready

Through wireless devices:

  • Alert Ready delivers emergency alerts to Canadians through wireless devices.
  • To learn more about the system and check your mobile phone’s compatibility visit www.alertready.ca

Follow the City of Hamilton on Twitter 

The City of Hamilton’s Emergency Plan

The plan outlines how the City and its emergency response agencies will coordinate themselves to respond to, and help the city recover from, a large scale emergency. It outlines roles, responsibilities, procedures and guidelines that will be followed to protect the health, safety, and well-being of Hamilton residents.