Know the different dangers

« Back
Recognizing an impending danger and knowing what to do to protect yourself and your family will help you take effective steps to prepare beforehand

Be Prepared and Know About Each Situation

Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling a supply kit and developing a family emergency plan, are the same for all types of possible disasters. However each emergency is unique and knowing the actions to take for each threat will impact the specific decisions and preparations you make. By learning about these specific threats, you are preparing yourself to react in an emergency.

In ALL cases always take the following measures beforehand:

1) Store a two week supply of water and food. During a disaster, if you cannot get to a store, or if stores are out of supplies, it will be important for you to have extra supplies on hand.

2) Build an Emergency Supply Kit, which includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries, a roll of duct tape and scissors.

3) Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.

4) Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighbourhood.

5) It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.

6) You may also want to inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, day care and school. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one.

7) Know your community's warning systems and disaster plans.

8) Make plans for your pets

9) Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home. Have any non-prescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.

10) Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick or hurt, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.

11) You may want to volunteer with local groups to prepare and assist with emergency response.

These are the most common disaster scenarios you may encounter:


Extreme Heat
Landslides & Debris Flow
Severe Weather
Space Weather
Thunderstorms & Lightning
Winter Storms & Extreme Cold

1. Look at the breast and abdomen to see if it is moving due to respiration.
2. Open the beak and look into the mouth to see if there is a blockage. Clear it with your finger or a cotton swab if there is.
3. Hold the bird in front of your face, tilted slightly away from you with one hand supporting its head and the other its body. Open the beak if necessary. Turn your head a quarter turn to the left or right and put your mouth over the bird's beak. Take a breath, seal your lips around the beak and nares for a small bird or only the beak and put your index finger over the nares for a larger bird. Blow five quick breaths into the birds beak. The strength of your breath should be governed by the size of the bird. For a little bird just little puffs will do. For a large bird you will have to breathe more air in to fill the lungs and air sacs.
4. Watch the breast to see if it rises with each breath you puff in. You can see it clearest just where the breast muscles meet the abdomen. If the breast is not rising then you are not getting air into the lungs and need to check again for blockage. If the bird's breast is rising with your puffs, then pause after five breaths and watch for a second to see if the bird has begun breathing on its own again. If breathing has not resumed, then puff two breaths and pause a second to check for breathing again. Continue this pattern until the bird has resumed breathing on it's own.
5. If there is no heartbeat then you have to go into CPR and add chest compressions. Birds normally have a very rapid heartbeat so you will try and simulate that with gentle, rhythmic finger pressure on the keel of the breastbone. For little birds use one finger and for larger birds use three fingers. The pressure will be lighter for a small bird, stronger for a large bird. Use enough pressure to depress the sternum down. You want to press quickly at a rate of about 40-60 compressions a minute, while giving two breaths to the bird about every ten compressions. Check every minute or so for heartbeat and respiration.


Hazardous Materials Incidents
Household Chemical Emergencies
Nuclear Power Plant Incidents

1- Always call for expert help but also rush to help, time is of great importance. There are certain things which can be done after help has been called and you are waiting. These relate to overheating and stress which can kill the animals, and to the safety of individuals who are attempting to help or who are simply curious.
2- If it is not clear that a whale or dolphin is alive, its breathing can be checked by observation of the blowhole. For a dolphin, the blowhole will contract every 15-30 seconds but for a large whale, the contractions may be only once every 20 minutes.
3- The blowhole at the top of a whale's or dolphin's head is its breathing apparatus. Be sure that water and sand do not enter it. If an animal is lying on its side or on its back and its blowhole is exposed to waves or is covered, the whale or dolphin should be turned onto its belly being sure not to cause damage to or bend its fins or tail, and being sure that there are no sharp objects lying around which could cause damage.
4- Sudden movements of a tail, or the animal being rolled by incoming surf can cause severe injury to people. Do not stand near the tail of an animal, or on the beach side of a whale or dolphin in surf.
5- Whales and dolphins can survive a long period of time (up to two days) if they are protected from dangers and are kept wet.
6- Be aware that sea lions and seals or their young often come onto land for a short period before returning to the sea or during the time that the mother is hunting for food. Handling of a seal pup, besides being dangerous when the mother is around, may break the bond between mother and pup and may lead to its starvation death. It often takes many hours to accurately decide that a baby is indeed abandoned. Be sure to wait without approaching it while protecting it from other animals which could cause it harm or stress. Also be aware that seals injured or not have been known to bite and the bite can cause serious infection. If you need to protect the seal from harm, corral into a safe place by using something like a clean garbage can cover, or a board but do not touch them with it or handle them. Always call for expert help.
7- On-lookers, and would be helpers should keep their distance in order not to unduly stress the animal(s) and also to protect themselves. Be sure to keep dogs away from the scene. Someone should be put in charge of controlling the crowd of onlookers.
8- Do not attempt to move the whale or dolphin without the proper equipment and expertise, since the weight of the animal will cause severe scrapping of the skin, damage to internal organs, damage to the flippers and tail, and will normally be unsuccessful in the end. In no instance attempt to move it by its flippers or by pulling it by the tail or tail stock by human power, machine or boat. If an animal is rolled onto its flippers, irreparable damage can be caused. Do not allow an animal to roll onto its back so that the blowhole is covered.
9- To protect from overheating:
      A) To prevent overheating and sunburn of whales and dolphins, it is necessary to keep them constantly wet. This is true even if stranded in surf, if the surf does not completely cover them with spray. One extremely important precaution: these mammals breathe through the blowhole at the top of the head, and water allowed to enter it may cause drowning or significant stress. Be sure to keep sand and water from entering the blowhole.
     B) Whales and dolphins must be constantly kept wet with pails of water or wet towels which takes much dedication by a number of people particularly if there are a large number of animals.
     C) It can be helpful to cover with sheets or seaweed (except for the blowhole) and keep them constantly wet.
     D) Since the flippers and tail help cool the body by acting to lose heat rapidly, dig holes in the sand around the flippers and tail and keep them filled with water.
     E) Guard against sunburn The sheeting used to cover and keep the animal wet, will also help guard against sunburn.
     F) Providing some sort of shade if possible will guard against sunburn and also cut down on the evaporation of water.
     G) Sun block or sunscreen without oil can be applied but these should not be rubbed into the skin. Do not apply sun tanning lotions.
10- Animals must not be dragged. They must be picked up and transported. For large animals, heavy equipment is necessary in some cases. For small mammals, this can be done with a number of individuals using a tarpaulin. However, the following should be taken into consideration:
     a) Wait for the tide to come in before attempting to do anything.
     b) Make sure that the fins and tail are not pinched, twisted, bent or allowed to drag, and that the whole body is supported. Using a digger's bucket is not an option.
     c) Floatation devises have been successful and a number of rescue teams have these at different locations.
     d) If there is the possibility of constant rebeaching or the conditions are not good at the present location, transport to another location with deep water and reintroduce into the water, together as a group, should be attempted.
11- Helpers should be aware of their own physical condition. Being in the water for too long or exposed to the sun can cause medical emergency situations for the rescuers. Be sure to constantly monitor yourself or others on the team.
12- Remember, all rescue attempts of whales or dolphins take a great deal of planning, forethought and coordination.
13- If only one animal is involved, the possibility of restranding after successful release is relatively low. Where there are a number of individual whales or dolphins stranded, the social bonding between them is far stronger than we usually suppose, making restranding entirely likely and rescue extremely difficult if it is not done correctly.
14- If you are fortunate to be on the scene at the beginning of a stranding, members of the group which are still at sea prior to stranding, may be kept from stranding although this is a difficult and lengthy process. However, this is generally not the case, and so the major task is to keep individuals from restranding after they have been successfully freed until the remaining members are released into the water, and sometimes even after the successful completion of refloating the entire group if the main reason for their stranding still exists.


Biological Threats
Chemical Threats
Cyber Attack
Nuclear Blast
Radiological Dispersion Device (RDD)


Biological agents are organisms or toxins that can kill or incapacitate people, livestock and crops. A biological attack is the deliberate release of germs or other biological substances that can make you sick.

The three basic groups of biological agents that would likely be used as weapons are bacteria, viruses and toxins. Most biological agents are difficult to grow and maintain. Many break down quickly when exposed to sunlight and other environmental factors, while others, such as anthrax spores, are very long lived. Biological agents can be dispersed by spraying them into the air, by infecting animals that carry the disease to humans and by contaminating food and water.

Delivery methods include:

- Aerosols - biological agents are dispersed into the air, forming a fine mist that may drift for miles. Inhaling the agent may cause disease in people or animals.
- Animals - some diseases are spread by insects and animals, such as fleas, mice, flies, mosquitoes and livestock.
- Food and water contamination - some pathogenic organisms and toxins may persist in food and water supplies. Most microbes can be killed, and toxins deactivated, by cooking food and boiling water. Most microbes are killed by boiling water for one minute, but some require longer. Follow official instructions.
- Person-to-person - spread of a few infectious agents is also possible. Humans have been the source of infection for smallpox, plague, and the Lassa viruses.

Unlike an explosion, a biological attack may or may not be immediately obvious. While it is possible that you will see signs of a biological attack, as was sometimes the case with the anthrax mailings, it is perhaps more likely that local health care workers will report a pattern of unusual illness or there will be a wave of sick people seeking emergency medical attention. You will probably learn of the danger through an emergency radio or TV broadcast, or some other signal used in your community. You might get a telephone call or emergency response workers may come to your door.

Besides the general measures indicated at the top of this page, the following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property from the effects of a biological threat:

- Check with your doctor to ensure all required or suggested immunizations are up to date. Children and older adults are particularly vulnerable to biological agents.
- Consider installing a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter in your furnace return duct. These filters remove particles in the 0.3 to 10 micron range and will filter out most biological agents that may enter your house. If you do not have a central heating or cooling system, a stand-alone portable HEPA filter can be used.

The first evidence of an attack may be when you notice symptoms of the disease caused by exposure to an agent. Follow these guidelines during a biological threat:

In the event of a biological attack, public health officials may not immediately be able to provide information on what you should do. It will take time to determine exactly what the illness is, how it should be treated, and who is in danger. However, you should watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the Internet for official news and information including signs and symptoms of the disease, areas in danger, if medications or vaccinations are being distributed and where you should seek medical attention if you become ill.

If you become aware of an unusual and suspicious substance, quickly get away.

Protect yourself. Cover your mouth and nose with layers of fabric that can filter the air but still allow breathing. Examples include two to three layers of cotton such as a t-shirt, handkerchief or towel. Otherwise, several layers of tissue or paper towels may help.

There may be times when you would want to consider wearing a face mask to reduce spreading germs if you yourself are sick, or to avoid coming in contact with contagious germs if others around you are sick.

Be prepared to improvise with what you have on hand to protect your nose, mouth, eyes and cuts in your skin. Anything that fits snugly over your nose and mouth, including any dense-weave cotton material, can help filter contaminants in an emergency. It is very important that most of the air you breathe comes through the mask or cloth, not around it. Do whatever you can to make the best fit possible for children. There are also a variety of face masks readily available in hardware stores that are rated based on how small a particle they can filter in an industrial setting. Simple cloth face masks can filter some of the airborne "junk" or germs you might breathe into your body, but will probably not protect you from chemical gases.

If you have been exposed to a biological agent, remove and bag your clothes and personal items. Follow official instructions for disposal of contaminated items. Wash yourself with soap and water and put on clean clothes. Contact authorities and seek medical assistance. You may be advised to stay away from others or even quarantined.

If a family member becomes sick, it is important to be suspicious. Do not assume, however, that you should go to a hospital emergency room or that any illness is the result of the biological attack. Symptoms of many common illnesses may overlap. Use common sense, practice good hygiene and cleanliness to avoid spreading germs, and seek medical advice.

Consider if you are in the group or area authorities believe to be in danger. If your symptoms match those described and you are in the group considered at risk, immediately seek emergency medical attention.

Follow instructions of doctors and other public health officials.

If the disease is contagious expect to receive medical evaluation and treatment. You may be advised to stay away from others or even deliberately quarantined. For non-contagious diseases, expect to receive medical evaluation and treatment.

In a declared biological emergency or developing epidemic, there may be reason to stay away from crowds where others may be infected.

The symptoms below must be cause of alert, keep the person with symptoms separated from others if possible, practice good hygiene and cleanliness to avoid spreading germs and seek medical advice.

A temperature of more than 100º F /37º C
Nausea and vomiting
Stomach ache
Pale or flushed face
Thick discharge from nose
Sore throat
Rash or infection of the skin
Red or pink eyes
Loss of appetite
Loss of energy or decreases in activity

If someone is sick, you should practice good hygiene and cleanliness to avoid spreading germs.

Wash your hands with soap and water frequently.
Do not share food or utensils.
Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
Consider having the sick person wear a face mask to avoid spreading germs.
Plan to share health-related information with others, especially those who may need help understanding the situation and what specific actions to take.


Chemical agents are poisonous vapours, aerosols, liquids and solids that have toxic effects on people, animals or plants. They can be released by bombs or sprayed from aircraft, boats and vehicles. They can be used as a liquid to create a hazard to people and the environment. Some chemical agents may be odourless and tasteless. They can have an immediate effect (a few seconds to a few minutes) or a delayed effect (2 to 48 hours). While potentially lethal, chemical agents are difficult to deliver in lethal concentrations. Outdoors, the agents often dissipate rapidly. Chemical agents also are difficult to produce.

A chemical attack could come without warning. Signs of a chemical release include people having difficulty breathing; experiencing eye irritation; losing coordination; becoming nauseated; or having a burning sensation in the nose, throat and lungs. Also, the presence of many dead insects or birds may indicate a chemical agent release.

It is a good idea to have beforehand plastic sheeting for doors, windows, and vents for the room in which you will shelter in place. To save critical time during an emergency, pre-measure and cut the plastic sheeting for each opening.

Choose an internal room to shelter, preferably one without windows and on the highest level.

What you should do in a chemical attack:

1) Quickly try to define the impacted area or where the chemical is coming from, if possible.
Take immediate action to get away.
2) If the chemical is inside a building where you are, get out of the building without passing through the contaminated area, if possible.
3) If you can't get out of the building or find clean air without passing through the area where you see signs of a chemical attack, it may be better to move as far away as possible and shelter-in-place.

If you are instructed to remain in your home or office building, you should:

1) Close doors and windows and turn off all ventilation, including furnaces, air conditioners, vents, and fans.
2) Seek shelter in an internal room and take your disaster supplies kit. Seal the room with duct tape and plastic sheeting.
3)Listen to your radio for instructions from authorities.

If you are caught in or near a contaminated area, you should:

1) Move away immediately in a direction upwind of the source.
2) Find shelter as quickly as possible
3) If you are outside, quickly decide what is the fastest way to find clean air. Consider if you can get out of the area or if you should go inside the closest building and shelter-in-place.

Decontamination is needed within minutes of exposure to minimize health consequences. Do not leave the safety of a shelter to go outdoors to help others until authorities announce it is safe to do so.

A person affected by a chemical agent requires immediate medical attention from a professional. If medical help is not immediately available, decontaminate yourself and assist in decontaminating others.

Decontamination guidelines are as follows:

1) Use extreme caution when helping others who have been exposed to chemical agents.
2) Remove all clothing and other items in contact with the body. Contaminated clothing normally removed over the head should be cut off to avoid contact with the eyes, nose and mouth. Put contaminated clothing and items into a plastic bag and seal it.
3) Decontaminate hands using soap and water.
4) Remove eyeglasses or contact lenses. Put glasses in a pan of household bleach to decontaminate them and then rinse and dry.
5) Flush eyes with water.
6) Gently wash face and hair with soap and water before thoroughly rinsing with water.
7) Decontaminate other body areas likely to have been contaminated. Blot (do not swab or scrape) with a cloth soaked in soapy water and rinse with clear water.
8) Change into uncontaminated clothes. Clothing stored in drawers or closets is likely to be uncontaminated.
9) Proceed to a medical facility for screening and professional treatment.



Have any non-prescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Use a protective mask when in public places.

If you are sick, use a protective mask and keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

Washing your hands often or better still cleaning with a disinfectant gel will help protect you from germs.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Follow closely all alerts and reports on outbreaks as well as announcements of times and locations for preventive and treatment medical centres.

« Back