Each year, most emergencies that occur in Lunenburg County are quickly handled by first response organizations, all with little impact to the public. However, conditions can quickly change, resulting in the sudden evacuation of people and pets from homes and businesses, often with little warning or advance notice.
An evacuation can occur in a variety of emergencies and circumstances. Lunenburg County encompasses a large geographical area, with a number of diverse communities, each with unique needs. While emergency services are readily available to persons in all urban and rural communities, meeting the needs of persons in remote areas during an emergency or disaster may be difficult.
Preparation is Key. Planning for the possibility of an evacuation begins at home or before you engage in any outdoor activity. There are steps you can take to prepare you and your family if you must evacuate and reduce the stress you will experience, both during and after such an event.
Be prepared to evacuate your home or workplace
- Do not assume that an evacuation will last only a few hours. Plan to evacuate with enough items to keep your family comfortable for several days. Consider adding appropriate items to your emergency supplies.
- Take your emergency kit, along with important contact numbers with you.
- Warm and waterproof clothing, and any other items appropriate for the time of year.
- Extra food.
- Cash and credit cards.
- Toys to comfort and amuse the children.
- Reading material and games.
- Pet food, watering bowls, waste receptacles.
- Sleeping bags or blankets in a waterproof bag.
- Keep your vehicle fuelled.
- Ensure your vehicle is well-equipped for winter driving.
Evacuation procedures during an emergency
- Keep phone lines open for use by emergency workers. Text rather than make phone calls as it uses less bandwidth. Take and share limited photos as well.
- Listen to local radio, television broadcasts, and social media for emergency instructions and current information.
- Assemble the food and supplies you plan to take with you. Refer to lists of family medications, records and irreplaceable items.
- Follow the instructions of your Utility Company about whether to switch off utility services. In the case of some gas and propane appliances that are manually operated, it may be wise to shut off the gas supply if the appliance is going to be unattended.
- Follow the instructions and advice of your municipal government, especially if evacuation orders are be issued.
- As you evacuate and then return home, be cautious and take the same safety measures you would when there is no emergency: buckle up and do not drink and drive. Also, make sure that children are properly buckled up and in the rear seat.
There are two types of evacuation orders that may be referred to. Understanding the difference is important.
A warning signals that a risk is present and a potential threat to life or property. At this point evacuating is at the discretion of the individual whether they remain or not. You do not need to leave but you need to get ready to leave on short notice. Those who require additional time to evacuate or those with pets or livestock should prepare to leave their homes.
There is an immediate threat to life and safety that requires people to leave their homes immediately. All persons in the affected area will be advised that in the interest of their own safety and considering the risk, they are now ordered to leave the area. Emergency workers may not be able to provide assistance if people fail to comply with this order. While the evacuation order is in effect, the area impacted will typically have controlled access. A declaration of a State of Local Emergency (SOLE) will normally be put in place for a mandatory evacuation.
It is helpful to responders if you leave a note before you leave indicating everyone has evacuated safely.
When evacuating, travel only on routes that are specified or recommended by the first responders.
A Reception Centre may be set up to provide food, shelter and information to people affected by an emergency. If you are going somewhere other than the reception centre, advise the reception centre or municipal government of your location.
Stages of an Evacuation
Should an evacuation be required in an emergency situation, a three-stage evacuation process begins:
Stage 1 - Evacuation Alert
Emergency Officials will notify the population at risk of the potential need to evacuate. Information will be provided about the nature of the danger. Although you may have time to prepare your home or business, conditions may change quickly, and evacuation orders may be given with very short notice. In other instances, an evacuation order alert may have no prior warning.
Stage 2 - Evacuation Order
When issued, you must evacuate the affected area immediately. Returning to the affected area will be restricted while the Evacuation Order is in effect.
Stage 3 - All Clear
Once the danger has passed, the population at risk is allowed to return to the previously evacuated area. If the danger returns, an Evacuation Alert or Evacuation Order may be issued again.