Are you ready for an emergency?

Recent emergencies such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile have highlighted the need for all of us to be prepared for emergencies. Even though most disasters are beyond our control, there are ways to reduce the risk.

From May 2 to 8, it’s Emergency Preparedness Week, a national initiative designed to increase awareness about individual and family preparedness, emphasizing how all of us can reduce the risks and consequences of an emergency by being better prepared.

Left: The night sky was ablaze on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2008 as a fireball exploded into the air above Sunrise Propane Industrial Gases, a propane and industrial gas sales and storage facility located south of York’s Keele campus. Some 12,000 residents were evacuated from the area.

York University’s Office of Emergency Preparedness is planning a number of activities on campus during Emergency Preparedness Week to help us learn more about how to be better prepared for emergencies. 

On May 3 and 6, provincially accredited training is being provided to York faculty and staff who have specific roles in the Emergency Operations Centre. Staff participating in this event will receive training in the four principles of emergency management (prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery). In addition, those participating will learn about York’s Incident Management System and will participate in a realistic tabletop exercise. (This event is restricted to those with roles in the Emergency Operations Centre.)

On May 4, everyone is invited to drop by Vari Hall and visit the Office of Emergency Preparedness display booth and display booths from York Security Services, goSAFE and Occupational Health & Safety. The booths will operate from 10am to 2pm and will offer information about emergency preparedness at York. Publications will be available on how to safely evacuate during an emergency situation, what shelter-in-place means and what happens during a lockdown. In addition, information will be provided on how to put together a personal preparedness kit. All those who drop by can also enter a contest for a chance to win either an emergency preparedness car kit or personal kit. Both prizes are courtesy of the Office of Emergency Preparedness.

Right: A sample emergency kit

On May 7, all staff, faculty and students are invited to participate in lockdown training, which includes a simulated tabletop exercise. The training is designed to teach lockdown procedures and test the effectiveness of your own plan whether in a workplace, residence or classroom. The lockdown training session runs from 9 to 11am and advance registration is required. To register, contact James Skenderis, emergency management coordinator, at ext. 55634. 

Interested staff and faculty who are involved in emergency planning at York are invited to drop by the Emergency Operations Centre open house on May 7 from 1 to 3pm. There will be a tour of the centre and those attending will receive an overview of the centre’s operation and roles and responsibilities during an emergency. Advance registration is required as space is limited. To register, contact Skenderis.

What can you do to be prepared? 

Participating in Emergency Preparedness Week activities, whether at York or in your local municipality, is an important way of learning how to be prepared for the unexpected. An emergency situation can happen anywhere and anytime and taking these simple steps will help you be better prepared:

  • Keep an emergency supply kit in your home and car.
  • Make a family emergency plan so that everyone will know what to do and how to contact each other in an emergency.
  • Learn about disasters that have happened in your region in the past so that you can be ready if they happen again. 

To find out more about York University’s Emergency Preparedness Program, including Emergency Preparedness Week activities, contact Skenderis or visit the Emergency Preparedness Program Web site.