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    Staying safe when an emergency strikes

    The City of Chestermere is marking Emergency Preparedness week with an open house May 12.
    “Our Key Message really is be prepared,” said City of Chestermere’s Director of Emergency Management Donelda Laing.
    With the goal of helping Chestermerians to bring preparedness into their everyday lives, the city is hosting a fun and education al open house to show how the city prepares to respond to emergencies and how residents can prepare themselves and their families.
    Among the activities will be the chance to tour the fire hall, interact with Sparky the dog and other safety mascots, explore the fire trucks and other emergency vehicles.
    “Who doesn’t like climbing on a fire truck or police car,” said Laing.
    Organizers hope that families will come down together for the open house.
    “It’s a fun afternoon,” said Chestermere’s Fire Chief Brian Pomrenke, “for four hours, it’s worthwhile to get to the event.”
    New this year, the city is also offering a car seat clinic.
    “All those new parents who want to know about installing their car seat this is a great opportunity,” said Laing.
    In addition to some family fun there will be city staff available to discuss what families should do to be prepared for a local emergency.
    And with incidents occurring more often around the province and country, it is especially important to be prepared.
    “We know that there’ve been so many incidents happening recently,” said Laing, “we’ve been surrounded with incidents around overland flooding.”
    She said that their goal is to ensure that people feel confident that if something happens in Chestermere both they and the city are prepared for it.
    “This again helps to build confidence for people that they can be prepared for any kind of emergency,” said Laing.
    After completing a risk assessment process, Pomrenke, said that some of the more likely emergencies that could strike the city include, high intensity residential fires and grass fires coming in off the prairie and threatening the city.
    There are also risks posed by the major transportation corridors running through and around the city.
    “Those create some elevated risk levels,” he said.
    Extreme weather events are also a concern.
    “We all know about our 2015 floods and that was very much related to weather events,” said Laing.
    While when an emergency is going to strike is almost impossible to predict, there are some key things residents can do to be prepared should they have to evacuate on short notice.
    One of the most important is to have copies of key documents ready to bring in case of an evacuation.
    Examples of what people should bring include identification, medications, photos of family and pets.
    “Some of those things that you would need on a daily basis,” said Pomrenke.
    He said that it’s important to have photos of family and pets to help responders reunite families who become separated in the evacuation.
    “Someone’s at hockey practice and you can’t get back to your community how do we work at getting you connected with family again.
    “It’s those documentation the pictures, the photos that help us connect you back with your families,” said Pomrenke.
    The goal of these emergency kits is to include every essential item one needs for a 72-hour period.
    In addition to being packed and prepared for either an evacuation or to shelter in place, Laing said the it is important to listen to emergency alerts and instructions from the appropriate authorities.
    “We want people to listen to the emergency alerts, to the appropriate authorities so that if they do have to evacuate they know where to go and what routes to take what are the things they need to do.
    “So, prepare your documents have all of those things as part of it prepare for your pets and listen,” said Laing.
    When it comes to emergency alerts, Laing recommends that people sign up for the emergency alerts provided by the city and Alberta Emergency Management Alerts.
    It’s important to listen to official alerts and not turn to unreliable forms of communication in an emergency.
    “Your emergency alerts will guide you to the appropriate resource for what social media to follow,” said Pomrenke.
    The Emergency Preparedness Open House is on May 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the fire hall.