Emergency Preparedness Week is organized by Public Safety Canada and takes place each year in May. This year, the event was rolled-out nationally May 7th – 13th, with the aim of helping Canadians safeguard themselves during an emergency situation.
The event also presents an ideal opportunity to identify whether your organization is prepared for an emergency. With the heavy rainfall we’ve already seen early in May in southern Ontario, floods are a particular concern for owners and managers of small apartments through to large commercial and industrial facilities. “At 30 Forensic Engineering, we frequently encounter properties which have been subjected to serious emergency events—I would suggest looking for ways to prevent, mitigate and reinstate the damages from an emergency event, and always look to be prepared, so that you can manage an emergency situation safely and calmly,” states Jeff Reitsma P.Eng, and Practice Lead, Remediation.
Some practices to consider:
• Identify procedures and key support persons, including 24/7 contact numbers for your insurance representative, after-hours emergency response contractors and operation-critical vendors.
• Include audits of emergency response actions such as shut-downs, testing of back-up power, flow-testing drains, and exercising of shut-off valves as part of scheduled preventative maintenance activities.
• Actively manage designated substances such as asbestos, silica, PCBs and lead and maintain inventories of said materials in accordance with applicable regulations; this information should be shared with emergency responders to make every reasonable effort to notify those workers of health & safety and environmental hazards.
• Maintain accurate and up-to-date drawings or CAD models, especially of infrastructure-critical elements such as electrical single-line diagrams and plumbing riser & valve schedules, to identify critical isolation and shut-off points and to direct emergency responders.
• Clear and consistent labelling of piping and valves, cables, conduits, panels and junction boxes will save precious time when tracing leaks and confirming isolation of systems in an emergency.
• Ensure all construction and renovations are done to code by qualified contractors; proper fire-stopping of floor slab penetrations for instance can minimize the spread of smoke & soot damage during a fire, and also prevent water from travelling from floor-to-floor via ceilings and within wall assemblies.
Incorporate resiliency into design selections where possible:
• Bolt- or screw-on finishes can be more easily removed than glued- or cemented-on finishes facilitate drying or replacement.
• Water permeable materials in layers should be avoided in leak-prone areas – hardwood flooring with foam underlayment as an example is difficult to dry in place in a timely manner.
• Permeable walk- and drive-way finishes and green roofs can help to minimize surface run-off in and around properties.
• Make allowance for flooding in risky areas and provide robust drains, housekeeping pads or pedestals for sensitive equipment, while keeping overhead areas in such locations free to allow use of lifting devices to facilitate replacement.
Make use of the extensive emergency preparedness resources available on-line, including excellent check-lists, tips and guides:
Insurance Bureau of Canada
Government of Canada
Canadian Red Cross
Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction
Restoration Contractors Organization of Canada (RCOC)
It is essentially impossible to effectively plan for all potential emergency situations, but effective and targeted preparation can result in significant reductions to the likelihood and impact of an emergency situation on your property – “Plan. Prepare. Be Aware”!
As outlined by Public Safety Canada “Get Prepared” program, here are additional on-line resources as to what’s occurring across Canada:
Alberta Emergency Management Agency
Emergency Management BC
Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization
New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador Fire and Emergency Services
Northwest Territories Emergency Management Organization
Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office
Nunavut Emergency Management
Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island Emergency Measures Organization
Quebec – Ministère de la sécurité publique
Saskatchewan Emergency Management Organization
Yukon Emergency Measures Organization