Types of Emergencies

Do you know what to do in a power failure, flood or winter storm? Do you have everything you need during an emergency? Learn about some of the risks in Brantford and how you can prepare.

Cyber Attack

Cyber-attacks can cause major disruptions when an unauthorized user accesses or maliciously alters your computer code to compromise data or modify, destroy, delete or make key systems and resources unavailable. Some samples include phishing, ransomware, and Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDOS) attacks.

Response plan
Organizations should prepare a cyber-attack response plan (often referred to as a cybersecurity incident response plan). A clear plan should outline responsibilities, steps to be taken, resources and supporting agencies (including their contact information) that may be requested, as well as potential communications to be issued in the event of an attack.

Multifactor authentication
Individuals and organizations should enable multifactor authentication for their accounts (emails, social media, etc.). This adds an extra layer of protection to your accounts and will alert you when an attempted sign in has occurred.

Use secure internet communications
Use sites that use “HTTPS” if you need to access or provide any personal information. Don’t use websites with invalid certificates. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that creates a secure connection.

Recognize spam
Individuals and organizations should educate themselves to recognize spam content. This includes identifying emails or texts from unknown numbers that include a link. These can also appear from someone in your contact list, such as your colleague asking you to click a link to purchase a gift card for another colleague’s birthday. If the message it out of the ordinary it is likely spam and you should never click links or open files from unknown sources.

Backup your files
It is important to backup and save your files to your organization’s server or to an external hard drive in the event you fall to a cyber-attack. This should be done on a regular basis (monthly or even weekly).

Consider insurance coverage
In addition to liability coverage, your organization should also consider purchasing a cyber security insurance policy that covers incident response and recovery activities.

For more information on Cyber Security, visit Canadian Centre for Cyber Security.

Business Continuity

It is important for a business to have a continuity plan in place to quickly respond to disruptive incidents. A business continuity plan should incorporate:

  • Identifying and assessing the risks to your business including staffing shortages, supply chain issues, damage to physical assets (buildings, equipment, etc.) and service delays.
  • Recognizing your businesses vulnerabilities, how to prioritize operations and preparing for disaster scenarios.
  • Developing strategies and control measures to prevent or mitigate the identified risks including but not limited to developing redundant systems and alternative suppliers.
  • Ensuring all staff are familiar with emergency response and business continuity protocols.
  • Running tests of your business continuity plan to confirm it works.

Learn more about how to develop a business continuity plan for infectious disease outbreaks.

 Extreme Cold

Winter storms such as blizzards, ice storms and heavy snowfalls may create hazardous conditions, frozen or burst pipes, and cause power disruptions. Health impacts associated with extreme cold include frostnip, frostbite, and hypothermia. Check for weather alerts and advisories before you go outdoors.

Health impacts

  • Potential health impacts associated with extreme cold include frostnip, frostbite, and hypothermia. In severe cases, hypothermia can lead to organ failure and even death. Watch for the following symptoms of cold-related illness
    • A white or grayish-yellow skin area
    • Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
    • Numbness
    • Shivering
    • Exhaustion/feeling very tired
    • Confusion
    • Fumbling hands
    • Memory loss
    • Slurred speech
    • Drowsiness
    • Babies with bright red, cold skin and/or very low energy
  • People most at risk of cold-related illness are people experiencing homelessness, people who work outdoors, people with a pre-existing heart condition or respiratory illness, people taking certain medications, and infants and young children.

Water pipes impacts

  • Frozen pipes can leave you with no water and cause your pipes to burst, leading to expensive property damage. Take steps to protect your pipes from freezing and learn what to do if they freeze.

Road Impacts

  • Damage and disruption to roads, transportation systems and other infrastructure.
  • Dangerous driving and walking conditions.

Stay active and safe

  • Wear waterproof and windproof outer layers, a hat and warm mittens.
  • Choose wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers of clothing; these materials hold more body heat than cotton.
  • Change into dry clothing as soon as possible if you get wet from precipitation, sweat or submersion in water.
  • Wear several layers of warm lightweight clothing when shoveling snow and follow medical advice if you have a history of back or heart problems.
  • Reschedule outdoor activities and limit time outdoors if severe weather is forecast.
  • Notify friends or family where you will be when going on outdoor activities, such as hiking and skiing.
  • Take care when walking on ice, many cold-weather injuries result from slips and falls on ice-covered surfaces.
  • Keep your steps and walkways free of ice and snow by using rock salt or other de-icing compounds.
  • Keep your home adequately insulated and conserve heat by avoiding opening doors and windows as much as possible.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid decreased blood flow.
  • Work slowly when exposed to the cold and avoid over exertion, especially if you experience high blood pressure or heart disease.

Be cautious about travel

  • Listen to the weather forecast.
  • Avoid traveling in low visibility and on ice covered roads.
  • Clear your vehicle windows of all frost and snow so you can clearly see pedestrians, cyclists and other road users.
  • Take a charged mobile phone.
  • Make sure your car has a survival kit including a first aid kit, water and additional warm clothing and let someone know your destination and when you expect to arrive.

Emergency Shelter

If you, or someone you know is in immediate need of emergency shelter, please call the Housing Resource Centre at 519-802-4332 from Monday to Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If after hours, please contact the Salvation Army at 519-753-4193. Learn more about the Emergency Shelters available in the City of Brantford.

 Extreme Heat
Heat waves are often accompanied by high humidity, which can make the temperature feel hotter and can decrease the ability for the body to cool itself. The higher the temperature and the longer it lasts, the greater the risk of death during a heat wave. 

The risk of power outages also increases during periods of extreme heat as the demand for electricity can exceed the capacity of the electrical system.

During the summer, extreme heat can be life-threatening, especially for:

  • the elderly, young children and those who are ill or overweight;
  • people who exercise vigorously or are involved in strenuous work outdoors for prolonged periods;
  • people who exercise vigorously or are involved in strenuous work outdoors for prolonged periods
  • people taking certain medications, for example, for mental health conditions.

You can protect yourself from heat and humidity by:

  • Knowing the weather forecast before going outside
  • Planning ahead and modifying your plans according to the weather
  • Drinking plenty of cool liquids, especially water, before you feel thirsty (avoid drinks high in sugar, caffeine or alcohol)
  • Wearing loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing made of breathable fabric
  • Seeking shade and avoiding sun exposure
  • Taking a break from the heat by spending a few hours in a cool place
  • Taking cool showers or baths until you feel refreshed
  • Blocking the sun by closing curtains or blinds during the day
  • Preparing meals that don't require the stove

Exposure to extreme heat and humidity can cause:

  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headache
  • Rapid breathing and heartbeat
  • Extreme thirst
  • Decreased urination

Never leave people or pets inside a parked vehicle or in direct sunlight.

Frequently visit vulnerable neighbours, friends and older family members, especially those who are chronically ill, to make sure they are cool and hydrated

Fire and Explosion

Fires and explosions can cause extensive damage to property through smoke and burn damage. They can commonly result in evacuations of large numbers of people, closure of roads, homes or businesses, and even water damage from sprinkler systems or fire hoses.

Preventive Measures:

  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home and outside all bedrooms
  • Regularly check the batteries and replace twice each year
  • Prepare and practice your escape plan by identifying all exits and a place outside your home for family members to meet if you have to evacuate quickly

In the event of fire:

  • Sound fire alarm and alert others
  • Leave the building via the nearest exit, closing all doors behind you
  • Do not use the elevator
  • Call 9-1-1 (don’t assume this has been done)
  • If you cannot leave the building, stay close to the floor and cover your mouth and nose to avoid inhaling smoke
  • Move to the nearest window or balcony
  • Wave a piece of cloth to attract attention from emergency services personnel
  • Meet the firefighters when they arrive and tell them where the fire is

Major rain storms can cause flooding, especially in low-lying areas. Flash floods may occur without warning as streams and rivers overflow their banks. Heavy rain may also cause sewers to back up. 

Current conditions for the Grand River watershed can be found on the Grand River Conservation Authority website. 

Know your Risks

The risks associated with extreme rain include:

  • basement flooding
  • flooding and damage to public and private property, including roadways, parks and ravines
  • disruption of transit systems and public utilities
  • power outages

Take proper precautions


Follow these indoor precautions during a flood:

  • Turn off the furnace and gas valve in your basement.
  • Close all basement windows.
  • Turn off your fuse box.
  • Move any electrical appliances to a higher level.
  • Plug the basement sewer drain.
  • Do not stay in basements.
  • Stick to your emergency plan and get your emergency kit.
  • Listen to the radio and other media for emergency updates. If told to evacuate your home, leave as quickly and as safely as possible.
  • If your home is badly affected, evacuate safely.


Follow these outdoor precautions during a flood:

  • Only walk on firm ground.
  • Avoid walking on moving water.
  • Avoid flooded places and stand on elevated areas.
  • Don't try to cross floodwater.

In a vehicle

Follow these vehicle precautions during a flood:

  • Only travel if it is necessary.
  • Avoid driving through flooded roads.
  • Avoid sitting in your car.
  • If your car is stuck in rising floodwater, exit your car and seek high ground.
  • Have an emergency vehicle kit and a multi-purpose vehicle emergency exit tool that includes a seatbelt cutter, flashlight and window-breaker.
Hazardous Materials

If you witness or cause a hazardous material spill, always make the safety of others and yourself the top priority. Never attempt to clean up a hazardous spill if you do not know the material type, it is toxic, too large to contain or your lack the necessary protective equipment to do so yourself.

Small spills:

  • Immediately evacuate and deny entry to the spill area
  • Follow safety cleanup procedures if it is a non toxic spill
  • Properly dispose of your spill during the City’s Household Hazardous Waste Days

Large spills:

  • Alert others in the area and evacuate
  • Immediately call 911
  • Provide material type, quantity and the location of the spill to first responders
  • Stay in a safe location until first responders contain the spill
Natural Gas Leak

Many Brantford residents use natural gas to power their appliances and to heat and cool their homes. On rare occasion, a natural gas leak can occur inside or outside your home. That’s why it’s important to recognize the signs of a leak to keep your family and property safe. Signs of a potential natural gas leak include:

  • Seeing damaged connections to natural gas appliances or vegetation that is dead or dying for no reason.
  • Hearing a hissing or whistling sound.
  • Smelling a distinctive rotten egg or sulphur-like odour.

Natural gas is non-toxic (non-poisonous) but is flammable and can cause death by fire/explosion as well as suffocation if enough gas displaces the air in a confined space. If you suspect, smell, or see a natural gas leak:

  • Evacuate the home immediately
    • Don't use phones or electronics near the leak.
    • Don't turn appliances or lights on/off.
    • Don't smoke or use lighters or matches.
    • Don't start any vehicles or motors.
    • If leaking natural gas is burning, don't attempt to put the fire out yourself.
  • Call 911 from outside and at a safe distance from the source of the leak
  • Stay outside until an official says it’s safe to go back in

The COVID-19 pandemic has made us all very aware of the global and local impacts of a pandemic emergency. There are things you can do to better prepare for this or future pandemics, and ensure you are prepared in case you or someone in your house becomes ill.

Make a plan

  • Stock up on non-perishable foods gradually over a series of weeks. Be prepared for two (2) weeks should you become ill.
  • Refer to the Pandemic Pantry Checklist for a complete list of suggested supplies.
  • Fill prescriptions and stock up on needed over-the-counter pain/fever medications.
  • Make plans for your children or other dependents in case you may be sick.
  • Stock up on supplies for your pets.
  • Stock up on cleaning supplies to ensure often touched surfaces are cleaned regularly.
  • Ensure you have adequate sanitary/hygiene supplies.
  • Make preparations with your place of work in the event that you fall ill or are required to self-isolate.

Limit the spread of germs

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Make sure to wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you have just washed your hands with soap.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or into your arm, not your hand.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Do not visit people in hospitals or long-term care centres if you are sick.
  • Follow all instructions as directed by national and local public health officials.
Power Failures and Utility Disruptions

Power failures and utility disruptions can be caused by failures in the system or external events such as severe weather. A power outage may last from a few minutes to a few days. Prolonged power outages in extreme hot or cold weather may put your health and safety at risk.

Conveniences we enjoy, such as elevators and running water, may be affected during a power outage.  Your patience is needed and appreciated while these complex issues are resolved.

Depending on your provider call Grand Bridge Energy at 519-751-3522 to report a new outage not showing on their Power Outages page. Call to report power failures, wires down, power quality problems and to speak to Customer Care.

During an Outage

  • Unplug all appliances (space heaters, toaster ovens, griddles, etc.) that may have been left on at the time of the outage and could ignite when they come back on
  • Unplug computers, televisions, stereos and other electronics to prevent damage caused by power surges (use surge protecting power bars where possible)
  • Turn off stove cook top and oven
  • Turn off the water to the clothes washer and dishwasher if they were in use when the power went out, if possible
  • Leave a light or radio on so you will know when power is restored
  • Never use barbecues, propane or kerosene heaters, or portable generators indoors
  • Never leave candles unattended

During an extended power outage, your building’s property management staff or community organizations might visit you at home to make sure you are safe.

Union Gas Distribution

If you smell natural gas or suspect a leak (smell of rotten eggs), leave the area and call 1-877-969-0999.
Road Safety

Collisions involving motor vehicles are one of the biggest causes of injury and death in Ontario. Collisions can involve pedestrians, motor vehicles and other road users, including cyclists. Some of the factors that increase the risk of injury in a collision include:

To prepare for your travels, use 511on to map out your drive and look up forecasted driving conditions, current highway incidents and construction that may be taking place along your route.

During a road emergency, motorists are required by the law to move over to the farthest right lane, or the shoulder of the road and stop, upon noticing an incoming emergency vehicle (ambulance, police or fire) and not move until the vehicle has passed. Failing to obey the move over law includes penalties and fines, including:

  • First Offence: $400 to $2,000, plus three demerit points upon conviction.
  • Subsequent Offence (within 5 years): $1,000 to $4,000, possible jail time up to six months and possible suspension of driver’s licence for up to two years.

Roadside safety tips include:

  • Keep a first aid kit, extra water and food, and emergency repair supplies including tools, a spare tire, duct tape, jack, jumper cables, heavy-duty rope, gloves, and items to fix a flat tire. You should also have flags, flares, or reflective triangles to warn other drivers that you’re having trouble.
  • Take action immediately if you notice problems with your vehicle. Don’t wait until it’s too late, including a potential break down in the middle of traffic.
  • Where possible, exit highways and roadways if you’re experiencing an emergency. Avoid stopping on busy roads, around corners and curves, on a narrow road or at the bottom of a hill.
  • Increase your visibility by turning on your hazard lights. Safety cones, flares, reflective signs and lights can also help when on the side of the road.
  • Stay alert and be cautious when on the side of the road. Very little separates you and your vehicle from passing traffic.
  • Use caution if accepting help from strangers.
Storm and Wind Hazards
Severe storms such as tornados and hurricanes vary seasonally and can pose serious risks through rain, high winds, lightning and hail in any season. High-speed winds can cause death, injury and millions of dollars in property damage.
Thunder and Lightning Storms

A thunderstorm is accompanied by lightning and can produce extreme weather such as tornados, hail, windstorms and heavy rain. It’s important to recognize the warning signs before lightning strikes to keep you and your family safe.

Warning signs:

  • Look to the sky for darkening skies, flashes of light, increasing winds and the sound of thunder
  • Seek shelter immediately if you can hear thunder as you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning
  • Stay connected by listening to local radio or television broadcasts to monitor the weather

Safety indoors:

  • Find shelter indoors
  • Avoid telephone lines and metal pipes or appliances that can conduct electricity
  • Do not run any water or take a bath or shower
  • Turn off your air conditioner and unplug your appliances, power surges from lightning can cause serious damage

Safety outdoors:

  • Take cover inside or under a shorter tree
  • If you are swimming or boating on the water, seek shelter on land immediately!
  • Seek refuge in a low-lying, open place away from poles, trees, or metal objects
  • Squat low to the ground by placing your hands on your knees with your head between them and become a very small target!

Once the storm passes, continue to follow weather updates and avoid low-lying areas that could experience flash flooding. If someone is struck by lightning, call 911 immediately. If the individual’s breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. A trained person in first aid can provide CPR if the heart has stopped beating.

Winter Driving

The colder temperatures bring potentially dangerous driving conditions, especially with snow and ice. Slippery roads and decreased visibility can make Canadian winters a challenge for drivers. That’s why it’s important to remember the following safe winter driving tips:

  • Slow down and leave room between you and the vehicle ahead of you, especially during fog, black ice, slush or snow-covered roads
  • Invest in winter tires that provide additional traction in cooler weather
  • Top-up your windshield fluid and include an extra jug in the vehicle
  • Always travel with plenty of gas in the fuel tank to ensure you don’t run out
  • You must clear all snow from your hood, roof, windows and lights
  • Keep an emergency car kit in your vehicle at all times. It should include the following items:
    • Food – that won't go bad, such as energy bars
    • Water – in plastic bottles so they cannot break if frozen (change them out every six months)
    • Blanket
    • Extra clothing and shoes
    • First aid kit – with a seatbelt cutter
    • Small shovel, scraper and snowbrush
    • Candle in a deep can and matches
    • Crank flashlight
    • Whistle – in case you need to attract attention
    • Roadmaps
    • Copy of your emergency plan
  • You should also keep the following items inside your trunk in case of emergency:
    • Sand, salt or cat litter (non clumping) to help you get unstuck in snow, slush or mud
    • Antifreeze/windshield washer fluid
    • Tow rope
    • Jumper cables
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Warning light or road flares
    • Spare tire
    • Tire iron
    • Car jack