When to evacuate or take shelter in a building

In an emergency, you may need to evacuate your home and neighbourhood, or stay where you are and shelter-in-place. 

Evacuation alerts and orders are communicated by:

  • Officials going door-to-door
  • RCMP or fire department vehicle with a loudspeaker
  • Radio, television, or social media

If an evacuation order is issued, you must leave the area immediately

  • Prepare an emergency survival kit that includes food, water and medical supplies in an easy-to-carry container.

    The kit should include:

    • Flashlight (wind-up or battery)
    • Radio (wind-up or battery)
    • Extra batteries
    • Warm clothing, including waterproof outer garments and footwear
    • Blankets/sleeping bags
    • Necessary medication/prescription glasses
    • Infant care items
    • Personal toiletries/sanitary needs
    • Identification for each member of your household, Driver’s Licence
    • Non-perishable food
    • Bottled water
    • Cash, debit and/or credit cards
    • Insurance papers and other important records
  • In the event that you need to evacuate your home, and time permits, you should:

    • Vacate your home when advised by local emergency authorities.
      Ignoring a warning could jeopardize the safety of your family or responders
    • Disconnect all appliances except refrigerator and freezer.
      However, you may be requested to turn off the main electrical switch
    • In winter, set heat thermostat to lowest setting
    • Turn off the gas
    • Make arrangements for pets
    • Secure your outdoor possessions
    • Lock all doors and windows
    • Leave the exterior light on
    • Be sure to leave the evacuation sign on your front door knob
    • When you leave, take your emergency supplies kit with you
    • Follow the routes specified by officials. Don’t take shortcuts
    • Register with the Reception Centre
    • Handicapped/special needs residents, are encouraged to plan ahead with neighbours or friends for assistance.
      If help is not available, residents may call their local emergency services for assistance.
  • After authorities have indicated that it is safe to return to your home, you should:

    • Contract your insurance provider if your home has been damaged or destroyed
    • Listen to news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink
    • Give the electrical system a chance to stabilize before re-connecting appliances
    • First turn the heating system thermostats up, next plug in the fridge and freezer after a few minutes, if they were disconnected.
      Wait 10 to 15 minutes before re-connecting other appliances
    • Make sure that the hot water heater is filled before turning on the power to it
    • Check food supplies in refrigerators, freezers and cupboards for signs of spoilage.
      If a freezer door has been kept closed, food should stay frozen 24 to 36 hours depending on temperature. 

Shelter-in-place orders are issued for situations that last only a few hours or when it is not safe to evacuate.  If a shelter-in-place order is issued, you must take shelter indoors immediately.

  • If you are at home when the shelter-in-place order is issued, you should:

    1. Bring your pets inside, without risking your own safety.
    2. Close and lock all the windows, exterior doors, and any other openings to the outside.
    3. Close fireplace dampers, vents, or other openings
    4. Turn off all fans, and heating and air conditioning systems.
    5. Seal all cracks around doors, windows, and vents with plastic sheeting and duct tape.
    6. Close all drapes, curtains, and shades.
    7. Stay away from external windows.
    8. Move your family and pets to an interior room without windows that is above ground level and bring your 72-hour emergency kit.
      • Use stairs when possible – avoid or limit use of elevators.
    9. Seal the door and windows in your shelter-in-place room with plastic sheeting and duct tape. Place a damp towel along the base of the door.
    10. Have a hard-wired landline phone in the room you select to shelter-in-place. Only use the telephone for emergencies.
    11. Monitor emergency radio, TV broadcasts and social media for information.
    12. Only make phone calls if it's an emergency.

    Be ready to evacuate if directed by authorities.

  • If you are at your place of business when the shelter-in-place order is issued, you should:

    1. Notify all outside workers to come indoors.
    2. Close the business.
    3. Direct all workers, customers, clients, and visitors to the shelter-in-place areas and to sit away from any windows.
      • Use stairs when possible – avoid or limit use of elevators.
    4. Turn on call-forwarding or alternate phone-answering systems or services.
      • If you have voicemail or an automated attendant, change the message to advise that the business is closed and that staff and visitors will remain in the building until authorities advise that the area is safe.
    5. Close and lock all windows, exterior doors, and any other openings to the outside.
    6. Close all the drapes, curtains, and shades.
    7. Turn off all fans, heating- and air-conditioning systems, exhausts, and air intakes.
      • If possible, seal any systems that exchange indoor and outdoor air.
    8. Bring disaster supplies into the shelter-in-place room, including:
      • Non-perishable food
      • Water
      • A battery-powered radio
      • Flashlights
      • First-aid kits
      • Duct tape
      • Plastic sheeting
    9. Seal the door, windows, and vents with duct tape and plastic sheeting. If available, place rolled damp towels at the base of the door.
    10. Write down:
      • The names of everyone in the room
      • Their emergency contact name and number
      • Their relationship with the company (such as worker, customer, client, or visitor)
    11. Monitor the radio for emergency information.

    Be ready to evacuate if directed by authorities.

  • If you are very close to home, your office, or a building:

    1. Go there immediately and go inside
    2. Follow the shelter-in-place instructions for home or work, above.

    If you are unable to get to a building quickly and safely:

    1. Pull over to the side of the road.
    2. Stop your vehicle in a shady area.
    3. Turn on your hazard lights.
    4. Turn off the engine, close windows, and vents.
    5. If possible, seal the heat and air-conditioning vents with duct tape.
    6. Listen to the radio regularly for updates and instructions.
    7. Stay where you are until authorities declare the area is safe.
    8. Follow traffic directions from authorities to avoid closed roads.