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YEAR-ROUND READINESS

- Area Residents Encouraged to Prepare for Emergencies and Disasters That Can Strike Without Notice or Warning -

Although next week is set aside to raise awareness about emergency preparedness, area residents are being asked to take that message to heart throughout the year.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is using Emergency Preparedness Week (May 1 to 7) to remind area residents and local municipalities to be prepared for any type of emergency or disaster. That can include an extended power blackout, extreme weather, flooding, train derailment, or drinking water disruption.

“Disaster can hit home suddenly and unexpectedly, so it is important to be prepared individually and as a community for anything and everything,” says Carol Chan, the Emergency Preparedness Co-ordinator with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Ideally in an emergency, local residents should be prepared to take care of themselves for a minimum of 72 hours.”

The Health Unit recommends keeping an extra supply of food in your home. Ready-to-eat, non-perishable items such as canned ham, tuna and salmon, energy bars, and dried foods are invaluable when electricity is knocked out and it may be impossible to cook or warm up food, Chan says. During a power outage, the refrigerator door should also be kept closed to maintain the inside temperature.

Food in a fridge will stay cold for several hours provided the door is kept shut. In the summer, a full freezer will keep food frozen for approximately two days provided the door is kept closed.

“When the power comes back on, check to see that food in the fridge or freezer is still safe to eat,” she notes. “If there are still ice crystals present in the food, and there is no odour or visible sign of spoilage, then it is safe to refreeze the food. However, if food is completely thawed and has warmed to room temperature, the decision is easy… just throw it out.”

Clean drinking water is also essential in an emergency. If a power outage is likely to occur, fill as many containers as possible with water in advance to ensure there is a supply on hand in the event of an electrical disruption. Another option is to keep a supply of bottled water at home in case of an emergency (if doing so, be sure to rotate and replace the water prior its best-before date).

In the event that the drinking water supply – either a private well or a municipal water system – loses pressure or is contaminated with micro-organisms, it is important to boil the water before using it, Chan advises. Water should be brought to a rolling boil for one minute, then cooled before drinking or using it.

According to Chan, there are also many benefits to creating an emergency kit for your home. The kit should contain short-term essentials such as clothing, bathroom supplies, fold-up blankets, flashlights and batteries, as well as an up-to-date list of medication and emergency contacts. Chan says being neighbourly during an emergency is also important.

“Some people do not have the support or ability to deal with an emergency on their own,” she says. “It’s good to reach out to neighbours, family or friends who may be vulnerable or unable to look after themselves to see if they need assistance during an emergency.”

For additional resources, visit the federal government’s Get Prepared websiteor the Ontario government site. More help is also available by calling the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577.

 

For media inquiries, contact:

Carol Chan, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100, or 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1235.

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