You may not have marked it off in your calendar, but we are in the midst of Emergency Preparedness Week.
Local municipalities, emergency services and public utilities are hosting various events across the region, including one in Elmira, to help prepare residents in case of an emergency.
“The one thing we like to always recommend to residents at this time of year is that being prepared is important,” said Avril Tanner, emergency services coordinator for the Township of Woolwich. “It starts with you, and it helps our first responders be able to provide more immediate attention to someone who needs us in a dire emergency.”
While Emergency Preparedness Week officially runs from May 5-11, there are events and information sessions in the region throughout the month.
“Being prepared is of importance year-round, but this is the week that we highlight some of the areas we want people to focus on,” said Steve LaRochelle, manager of emergency management and business continuity for the City of Kitchener in a release. “Being ready means knowing the risks, having supplies and tools to deal with those risks, and having a plan to escape your home or business.”
The preparedness events take place all across the region and focus on a wide range of topics. The local one is set for May 30 at the WMC, a Community Awareness and Emergency Response (CAER) open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“It will be with all the community partners that were there from last year,” said Tanner. “For example, the Humane Society, Lanxess, armed forces, and the patrol unit, tactical unit and canine unit from Waterloo Regional Police, as well. And then fire service, the Salvation Army – the typical people that are out.
“That’s open to the public as well, but our focus is really the Grade 7 students that we bus in,” she added of the Elmira session.
Other region-wide events include the information display at the North Dumfries Community Complex, from May 6-11. Another will be hosted until May 9 at the Cambridge Centre.
On May 11, the Waterloo Regional Police Service is scheduled to host an open house from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 200 Maple Grove Rd. in Cambridge. On May 25, there will be a public works open house at 1310 Bishop St. North in Cambridge.
Another topic of discussion will be Alert Waterloo Region, the region’s new alert system that sends public safety messages directly to those who’ve signed up in the event of a large-scale emergency such as severe weather or a flood.
“You can now subscribe for up to five addresses in the system,” said Tanner. “We’re suggesting that because you may receive an alert only for within your municipality, within the region or in a buffer zone around a specific area, not necessarily region-wide, we’re recommending that you consider including additional addresses.
“We’re suggesting that you look at adding your work address if you work within the region, or, if your children attend school, adding those school addresses. If you have a family member in a long-term care home care facility, you can add that address as well.”
There are also tips featured on the AlertWR website outlining what to do before, during and after an emergency. Tanner encouraged signing up for multiple methods of notification, including text message, email or phone call, to ensure that public safety message gets across.
She also stressed the importance of a 72-hour emergency kit and having a plan.
“It’s important to have a plan ahead of time and ensure that your family members are all aware of that plan, and consider that uniqueness in your family for that plan,” said Tanner. “So if you have small children, family members with special needs, that’s important. What are you going to do with pets or service animals if you need to evacuate your home? So think about those things ahead of time.”