Emergency Preparedness

Being prepared for emergencies can seem like a daunting task, but the information below will help you be prepared for most emergency situations.

Municipal Emergency Response Plan

Every official, municipal department and agency must be prepared to carry out assigned responsibilities in an emergency. The emergency response plan has been prepared to provide key officials, agencies and departments of the Municipality of Highlands East with important emergency response information related to:

  • Arrangements, services and equipment; and
  • Roles and responsibilities during an emergency.

If you wish to view this plan please contact the Municipal Office.

Emergency preparedness guide

The Government of Canada has an excellent emergency preparedness guide that details the steps you should take to become better prepared for emergencies.

Stay connected: Be emergency ready

Emergency Preparedness is everyone's responsibility but not everyone has the means or ability to deal with emergencies. We encourage you to check on your neighbours to make sure they're okay – knock on their door if you must – and reach out to family and friends who may need you help during an emergency.

Make a Plan

Create your emergency family plan and practice it. In an emergency, your family may not be together, or you may be asked to evacuate your home. Thinking about what you would do in different situations and preparing a plan with every member of your family is the first step to being prepared.

Be Informed

Wireless Emergency Alerts are available for LTE-enabled (4G) cell phones and mobile devices in Canada. The geo-targeted alerts will warn Canadians about dangers and imminent threats to life and property so they can act.

If you've got an older model phone you can still get emergency alerts from Ontario's Emergency Public Warning System. The system allows subscribers to get tornado warnings and emergency alerts.

You can also get information about current provincial emergencies online.

Be prepared to go 72 hours without power

Most power outages will be over almost as soon as they begin, but some can last much longer – up to days or even weeks. Power outages are often caused by freezing rain, sleet storms and/or high winds which damage power lines and equipment. Cold snaps or heat waves can also overload the electric power system.

During a power outage, you may be left without heating/air conditioning, lighting, hot water, or even running water. If you only have a cordless phone, you will also be left without phone service. If you do not have a battery-powered or crank radio, you may have no way of monitoring news broadcasts. In other words, you could be facing major challenges. 

You can greatly lessen the impact of a power outage by taking the time to prepare in advance. 

72-hour power outage essentials

  • Alternative source of power like a portable or whole home generator
  • Landline phone that does not require hydro
  • Alternative source of heat like a woodstove
  • Crank radio or battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Source of light
  • Alternative cooking source such as a camp stove or propane barbeque
  • Food, water, medicine

Hydro One emergencies and outages

Call 1-800-434-1235 or visit the Hydro One website to report or receive updates.

What to take with you if you have to leave your home

  • Eyewear
  • Identification and other personal documents
  • Cell Phone with charger/extra batteries)
  • One day supply of food and water
  • Medication
  • Toiletries
  • Extra clothing

Build your own 72-hour kit

Be ready for an emergency. Ease your mind by ensuring your home has these essential items in an Emergency Preparedness Kit.


Store four and a half litres of water per person, per day. Two and a half litres for drinking and two litres for food preparation and sanitation. Ensure there is at least a three-day supply of water. Change stored water and food supply every six months so it stays fresh.


Store a minimum 3-day supply per person of non-perishable foods. Ready to eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables, canned juices, high energy foods like peanut butter and jelly with crackers and granola bars, vitamins, comfort/stress foods like chocolate and a loaf of bread frozen in the freezer to defrost for sandwiches. Remember: keep all items in air-tight plastic bags in an easy to carry container.

First Aid Kit

Assemble a kit including sterile gauze pads and bandages in various sizes, surgical tape, scissors, tweezers, moistened towelettes, antiseptic, latex gloves, soap, petroleum jelly, non-prescription drugs such as aspirin, anti-diarrhea medication and antacid. Consult a physician or pharmacist for advice on storing prescription medication.

Tools and Supplies

Flashlight and extra batteries, battery operated radio, cash, traveler's cheques, change, non-electric can opener, utility knife, compass, signal flare, pencils, paper, paper plates and plasticware, rain ponchos and spare car and house keys. Always have a telephone that doesn't require electricity to function (most cordless and multi-feature phones will not work in a power outage) as well as a contact list of important numbers, updated regularly to include loved ones and medical professionals.


Toilet paper, soap, liquid detergent, clothing, bedding, plastic bucket with tight lid (this can serve as a waste receptacle if required), plastic garbage bags, zip-lock bags and disinfectant.

Special Needs

Be sure to include items for family members with special needs such as infants, elderly or disabled persons. Keep important family documents in waterproof, portable containers (e.g. birth certificates, recent photos, health card numbers, passports and insurance policies). Have an ample supply of pet food and litter on hand.

Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are for use in small fires only. Never place yourself or others in jeopardy by trying to extinguish a fire that is too large or if smoke presents a hazard to the operator. Never fight a fire if the fire is spreading beyond the spot where it started. If there is a fire, sound the alarm, and get everyone out. If possible, try to confine and contain the fire by closing doors leading to it. Call 911 from a safe location.

Buy only an extinguisher which has been approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as U.L.C. Familiarize yourself with the location and operating instructions of the extinguishers at your disposal.

How to identify a fire extinguisher

All ratings are shown on the faceplate. Some are marked with multiple ratings such as AB, BC and ABC. These extinguishers can put out more than one class of fire.

The ABC's of Fire Extinguishers

  • Class A and B carry a numerical rating that indicates how large a fire an experienced person can safely put out with an extinguisher.
  • Class A extinguishes ordinary combustibles or fibrous material such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber and some plastics, etc.
  • Class B extinguishes flammable or combustible liquids, such as fuel, oil, gasoline, kerosene, paint, paint thinners, cooking grease, solvents and propane, etc.
  • Class C extinguishers have only a letter rating to indicate that the extinguishing agent will not conduct electrical currents. Class C extinguishers must also carry a Class A or B rating. Used for energized electrical equipment, such as appliances, switches, wiring, fuse boxes, electrical motors, power tools, panel boxes, etc.
  • Class D carries only a letter rating indicating their effectiveness on certain amounts of specific metals. Combustible metals such as magnesium, sodium, titanium and potassium burn at high temperatures and give off enough oxygen to support combustion. They may react violently with water or other chemicals and must be handled with care.

How to use a portable fire extinguisher

Remember the acronym, P.A.S.S.

Pull the pin.
Aim extinguisher nozzle at the base of the flames.
Squeeze trigger while holding the extinguisher upright.
Sweep from side to side, covering the area with the extinguishing agent.


Should your path of escape be threatened, the extinguisher run out of agent, prove to be ineffective or if you are no longer able to safely fight the fire: leave the area at once!

Make a fire escape plan

Anyone who has lived through a fire will tell you what a terrifying experience it is. Unfortunately, many people who experience fire never get a chance to tell their story to warn others of the dangers of fire.

Your fire department wants you to be prepared if a fire strikes your home. Please take a few minutes with your family to make a fire escape plan by following the steps below:

Draw a floor plan of your home

Use graph paper to draw a floor plan of your home. You should draw a floor plan for each floor of your home.

Include all possible emergency exits 

Draw in all walls, doors, windows and stairs. This will show you and your family all possible escape routes at a glance.

Include important features that could help your escape

Doors and windows are escape exits from your home. Are there any other features that could help you get out safely? Can you climb out a window onto the roof of a porch or garage? Is there a tree or television antenna tower that can be safely reached from a window? These features can be extremely useful in an emergency; however you must make sure that all escape routes are practical and usable.

Mark two escape routes from each room

There is a main exit from every room. This will be the exit to use if there is no apparent danger. If you are unable to use the main exit because of smoke or fire, you must have an alternate exit. The second exit is usually the window. Special consideration should be given to planning escape routes from the bedrooms as most fires occur at night when everyone is sleeping. This second exit must be practical and easy to use. Make sure that the occupant of that bedroom is able to use the second exit.

Determine who may need help to escape

Decide in advance who will help the very young, elderly or physically challenged members of your household. A few minutes of planning will save valuable seconds in a real emergency.

Choose a place outside where everyone will meet

Pick a meeting place that everyone will remember. It is a good idea to choose a spot at the front of your home or close to your neighbour's house. Everyone must know to go directly to this meeting place so they can be accounted for. No one should go back into a burning building for any reason.

Call the fire department from a neighbour's home

Once at the meeting place, someone can be sent to the neighbour's home to call the fire department. Include the neighbour's name and the fire department phone number on your plan. Mark the street address of your home on your fire escape plan. Always keep the Fire Department's number by your own phone in case a neighbour needs to call.

Make sure everyone is familiar with the fire escape plan

Go over the entire plan with everyone. Discuss primary and secondary escape routes from each bedroom. Ensure that all children know the plan. Walk through the escape routes for each room with the entire family. Use this walk-through exercise to check your escape routes, making sure all exits are practical and easy to use. It is important that all windows will open and that no heavy furniture blocks any escape route. If escape ladders or ropes are to be used, make sure that they are accessible and that the appropriate individual is capable of using them.

Practice your fire escape plan

After reviewing the floor plan with the members of your household, have an actual practice to ensure that everyone knows what to do. Practice your escape plan every six months. In a real fire, you must react without hesitation as smoke or flames may quickly block your escape routes. Your practice drills will ensure that everyone knows what to do when fire strikes.