What Manitobans can do to be prepared in any emergency

With three weekends in a row of spring storms and the threat of flooding, it’s important for Manitobans to stay prepared for any possible emergency, according to City of Winnipeg officials.

May 1 to 7 marks the National Emergency Preparedness Week, and officials with the City of Winnipeg are giving advice on how best to respond to an emergency.

“Emergency preparedness doesn’t have to be complicated. Small steps can make a big difference,” said Marc Sheridan, an emergency management officer with the City of Winnipeg, in an interview on Monday.

In the event of an emergency, Manitobans are advised to assess the situation, identify the risks, and figure out their first steps.

Lisa Gilmour, emergency management coordinator with the City of Winnipeg, said it’s best to prepare for an emergency before it happens, because people can be thrown off or panicked during a disaster.

“If you’ve already thought through it, you made a plan in advance, you have a kit ready and supplies ready to go, it really helps those initial first hours,” she said.

Gilmour noted it’s good to have an emergency kit that will sustain you for 72 hours. This kit can include food, batteries, lights, candles and water.

In terms of preparing an emergency plan, Manitobans are advised to have a list of potential risks in their area, as well as a list of specific actions they should take in response to an emergency.

“You need to think about things such as safe exits from your home or your neighbourhood in case you have to evacuate. A safe meeting place outside of your home, just in case you and your family or your friends get separated,” Sheridan said.

He noted that it’s also a good idea to talk over your emergency plan with your family, and then work up to a practice run of the plan.

The City of Winnipeg offers courses, as well as an online tool to help people put together emergency plans.

“It prompts you through with some of the important information that you might need in your plan - things like your personal health information, insurance information, all those important emergency contacts that you might need,” Sheridan said.

WHAT TO DO WITH PETS

As for those who have pets, the general manager of Winnipeg’s Animal Services Agency said people should try to do everything they can to take their pets with them if they have to evacuate.

“You don’t want to leave the pet behind, because you don’t know how long you’re going to be gone for,” said Leland Gordon.

He noted that if someone is evacuating with a pet, it’s important to bring the animal’s food, water and veterinary medical records. The pet should also be wearing an identification tag.

If someone has to leave their pet behind during an evacuation, Gordon said it’s best to make food and water accessible to the animal.

- With files from CTV’s Ainsley McPhail.