A resilient start to 2024: Prioritizing emergency preparedness for climate change and power outages

In terms of weather, 2023 made for another interesting, yet unsettling, year. While winter storms are to be expected in Ottawa, it has been startling for residents to be seeing tornadoes continue to show up in the forecast during warmer months. As we step into the new year, we believe it's time to start empowering ourselves, our families, and communities on a broader level - by setting resolutions that go beyond personal growth. In 2024,  we invite you to join us in prioritizing emergency preparedness at all times (if you don’t already), especially in the face of climate change-related challenges and potential power outages. One of the key aspects of preparedness is ensuring you can weather a power outage for up to 72 hours - and we’d like to help you achieve this. 

Here's a guide to help you make emergency preparedness a significant part of your resolutions.

1. Assemble an emergency kit that will suit your basic (and unique) needs

Begin by assembling a well-thought-out emergency kit that includes essentials for survival. This should include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Non-perishable food items
  • Water (4L per person per day for three to seven days)
  • Manual can opener
  • Medications and a first aid kit
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries and phone charger
  • Blankets and warm clothing
  • Important documents (IDs, insurance policies, etc.)

For a more comprehensive checklist, visit our Ultimate emergency kit checklist blog.

2. Develop a family emergency plan

Involve your entire family in the creation of an emergency plan. With kids involved, aim to make it fun to avoid eliciting fear. Identify safe meeting points, establish communication protocols, and assign age appropriate roles and responsibilities. Finally, review your personalized emergency kit to ensure that everyone understands the purpose of everything included.

3. Invest in alternative power sources

Rest assured that our teams are working hard to restore your power as soon as possible when there is an outage. But, for your own peace of mind, consider investing in alternative power sources to keep essential devices charged. Portable power banks, batteries, and solar-powered chargers can be invaluable during extended power outages. For longer-term solutions and more robust needs, explore options for gas-powered backup generators.

4. Assess your property through a safety lens

Protect your home against extreme weather events. Consider reinforcing your windows, doors, and roofs. Regularly trim trees on your property and, when the forecast threatens, secure outdoor furniture that could become projectiles in strong winds. These precautions will not only protect your property but could also prevent serious injuries.

5. Stay informed

Stay informed about potential weather-related threats and power outages. Utilize weather apps, emergency alert systems, and community resources to stay updated on developments. In fact, as a Hydro Ottawa customer, as long as you are signed up with a MyAccount profile, you will receive both “weather watch” emails and SMS outage alerts. When you receive alerts, be sure to initiate your communication plan early so that your friends and family can be well informed too. 

6. Review and practice emergency drills

Regularly review and conduct emergency drills with your family. Simulate power outages and practice using emergency tools and equipment (ie. how to use a gas-powered generator). Familiarity with these procedures can make a real emergency less chaotic and more manageable. Likewise, it will help mitigate fear for any little ones in the family. In fact, for young children, consider telling the plan as a story to help them engage and remember.

7. Connect with your neighbours and surrounding community

A connected community is better equipped to handle challenges together. For this reason, be intentional about building up your relationships with your neighbours this year. Look for ways to support each other year round. This way, when an emergency strikes, you will naturally be on the lookout for one another, have each other’s contact information, and be familiar with each other’s needs.

8. Tailor your plan based on your living situation

Your challenges and needs pertaining to your emergency plan will vary significantly based on whether you live in a high-rise community or a rural community. For emergency preparedness resources specific to your living situation, please visit our Emergency Preparedness page on our website. We’ve got you covered! 

A resilient start to 2024

While dramatic weather events and extended power outages are the last thing anyone wants to deal with, being prepared for the worst case scenario will help bring you and your family some peace of mind. Let’s make 2024 a year of resilience - no matter what kind of storm rolls in - by prioritizing emergency preparedness.

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