Using Technology During a Disaster
GETTING YOUR HAM RADIO LICENSE COULD HELP IN EMERGENCY COMMUNICTIONS BEYOND A FAMILY USING FRS RADIOS
We rely on technology more and more to keep in touch with our family, friends, and colleagues with a click of a button. But what happens in the event of a major emergency? Suddenly these tools can become vital in helping you and your family deal get in touch and stay informed. So here are some tips on the use of technology in an emergency:
- If possible, use non-voice channels like text messaging, email or social media. These use less bandwidth than voice communications and may work even when phone service doesn’t.
- If you must use a phone, keep your conversation brief and convey only vital information to emergency personnel and/or family. This will also conserve your phone’s battery.
- Unable to complete a call? Wait 10 seconds before redialing to help reduce network congestion. Note, cordless phones rely on electricity and will not work during a power outage. If you have a landline, keep at least one corded phone in your home.
- Keep extra batteries or a charger for your mobile device in your emergency kit. Consider getting a solar-powered, crank, or vehicle phone charger. If you don’t have a cell phone, keep a prepaid phone card in your emergency kit.
- Keep your contacts up to date on your phone, email and other channels. This will make it easier to reach important contacts, such as friends, family, neighbours, child’s school, or insurance agent.
- If you have a smartphone, save your safe meeting location(s) on its mapping application.
- Conserve your smartphone’s battery by reducing the screen’s brightness, placing your phone in airplane mode, and closing apps you are not using. You never know how long a power outage will last!
Remember, in an emergency or to save a life, call 9-1-1 for help. You cannot currently text 9-1-1. If you are not experiencing an emergency, do not call 9-1-1. If your area offers 3-1-1 service or another information system, call that number for non-emergencies.
Facts About Emergency Preparedness
- Roughly 5,000 earthquakes are recorded in Canada every year.
- Canada gets more tornadoes than any other country except the U.S., averaging about 50 tornadoes per year.
- The worldwide cost of natural disasters has skyrocketed from $2 billion in the 1980s, to $27 billion over the past decade.
- Canada’s first billion dollar disaster, the Saguenay flood of 1996, triggered a surge of water, rocks, trees and mud that forced 12,000 residents to evacuate their homes.
- Some hailstones are the size of peas while others can be as big as baseballs.
- Approximately 85% of Canadians agree that having an emergency kit is important in ensuring their and their family’s safety, yet only 40% have prepared or bought an emergency kit. Complete yours online at www.GetPrepared.ca.
- In 2011, flooding in Manitoba and Saskatchewan featured the highest water levels and flows in modern history. Over 11,000 residents were displaced from their homes.
- Ice, branches or power lines can continue to break and fall for several hours after the end of an ice storm.
- The deadliest heat wave in Canadian history produced temperatures exceeding 44ºC in Manitoba and Ontario in 1936. Rail lines and bridge girders twisted, sidewalks buckled, crops wilted and fruit baked on trees.
- In 2007, the Prairies experienced 410 severe weather events including tornadoes, heavy rain, wind and hail, nearly double the yearly average of 221 events.
- The coldest temperature reached in North America was –63ºC, recorded in 1947 in Snag, Yukon.
- The largest landslide in Canada involved 185 million m3 of material and created a 40m deep scar that covered the size of 80 city blocks in 1894 at Saint-Alban, Quebec.
- Hurricanes are bigger and cause more widespread damage than tornadoes (a very large system can be up to 1,000 kilometres wide).
- One of the most destructive and disruptive storms in Canadian history was the 1998 ice storm in Eastern Canada causing hardship for 4 million people and costing $3 billion. Power outages lasted for up to 4 weeks.
- The June 23, 2010 earthquake in Val-des-Bois, Quebec produced the strongest shaking ever experienced in Ottawa and was felt as far away as Kentucky in the United States.
- Using non-voice communication technology like text messaging, email, or social media instead of telephones takes up less bandwidth and helps reduce network congestion after an emergency.
- At the end of October 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of the Caribbean and the northeast of the North American continent. When the hurricane made landfall in the United States it blended with a continental cold front forming a storm described as the “Monsterstorm” by the media.
Emergency Management in Canada: How Does It Work?
In a country that borders on three oceans and spans six time zones, creating an emergency response system that works for every region is a huge challenge. That’s why emergency management in Canada is a shared responsibility. That means everyone has an important role to play, including individuals, communities, governments, the private sector and volunteer organizations.
Basic emergency preparedness starts with each individual. If someone cannot cope, emergency first responders such as police, fire and ambulance services will provide help.
If the municipality needs additional assistance or resources, they can call on provincial/territorial emergency management organizations, who can seek assistance from the federal government if the emergency escalates beyond their capabilities. Depending on the situation, federal assistance could include policing, national defence and border security, and environmental and health protection.
Requests for assistance from provincial/territorial authorities are managed through Public Safety Canada, which maintains close operational links with the provinces and territories. It can take just a few minutes for the response to move from the local to the national level, ensuring that the right resources and expertise are identified and triggered.
Everyone responsible for Canada’s emergency management system shares the common goal of preventing or managing disasters. Public Safety Canada is responsible for coordinating emergency response efforts on behalf of the federal government. More information is available on the Public Safety web site at www.publicsafety.gc.ca (click on “Emergency Management”).