It’s Emergency Preparedness Week across Canada, an initiative focused on getting Canadians to be vigilant by being prepared.

Fire Official John Okum, formerly with the Arnprior Fire Department, says as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to remember that everyone has a role to play in emergency management.

“Although we need to remain diligent in our safety measures regarding public health and COVID-19, we’re using this week to encourage residents to be prepared in the event that other emergencies may occur,” Okum said.

Emergencies range from extreme weather like floods, landslides, tornadoes, ice storms and heatwaves, to fires and power outages, to global pandemics.

Okum says having a family plan and emergency kit on hand are key tools to help mitigate emergencies.

“This week emphasizes the importance of being ready for any type of emergency,” Okum said. “We ask that people keep this in mind and for them and their families to prepare an emergency kit, have an emergency response plan and be prepared.”

Bancroft Deputy Fire Chief Matt Msuclow says the best thing to do is carry a 72-hour emergency kit. This would include things like food, medication, 4 litres of water per person per day, a battery-powered radio, flashlights and toilet paper. Musclow says to be prepared for risks specific to your area, like flooding for lakeside residents or wildfire. Having an evacuation plan is key, which will include where you are going, who you need to contact, and to ensure you bring medication in case you can’t return to your residence. He says Emergency Management Ontario has tips on how to make a plan on their website.

The Bancroft Fire Department joins the fire services around North Hastings in encouraging residents to take concrete steps to be better prepared.

With files from Brandon Piper