Preparing for an Extreme Weather Related Event
Weather patterns have changed considerably within the last few decades, with extreme weather events occurring regularly around the world. Regardless of whether one believes that the changing climate is a result of natural patterns, or human driven activities, the changes are evident. The phenomenon was first called “global warming,” then “climate change.” Next came “climate chaos.” Now some writers are saying that these terms hide the reality of a “climate crisis” or “climate emergency”. So what is happening?
Scientists tell us that the overall average temperature of the planet is rising. When increases in temperatures are examined globally, and not just locally, we see some places warmer than normal and some colder. Locally, in 2009, the Ontario Centre for Climate Impacts and Adaptation Resources reported that Sioux Lookout’s average temperature had risen 1.2 degrees since 1939 (“Impacts of Climate Change on Northern Ontario Communities Focusing on Municipal Infrastructure and Tourism, 18 May 2009”). Scientists tell us that these unusual patterns create extreme, often unpredictable weather events – violent hurricanes, tornadoes where never before seen, sudden downpours, flash floods, droughts, excess precipitation and the like.
In the last decade we have seen an increase in wild fires – Slave Lake, Fort McMurray, and, in recent years, numerous fires north of Sioux Lookout and Red Lake. While it is difficult to link climate patterns directly to forest fires, evacuations from the Northern communities remind us of our vulnerability to Mother Nature. Floods have plagued Toronto, Thunder Bay, Dryden, and Highway 17 near Vermilion Bay. Tornadoes have hit the Kenora District. Power outages and ice storms have caused immeasurable damage. While extreme weather events have always occurred, what used to be 100-year occurrences now occur every 25 years, or even less.
How can we prepare ourselves if an extreme weather related event were to threaten Sioux Lookout?
The strategies are similar for any emergency. First and foremost, keep an emergency kit containing:
1.2 litres of drinking water for each person in your household;
2.72 hours supply of non-perishable food that can be eaten uncooked – beans, canned fish, and utensil, including a can opener;
3.Special needs items such as infant formula, diapers;
4.Over the counter medications; a week’s supply of your prescriptions Medications, first-aid kit;
5.Sleeping bags, personal hygiene items;
6.Flashlight and extra batteries if necessary;
7.Battery operated radio if that is your only way of receiving news updates;
8.At least $100 cash in small bills.
The following are also important:
1.Keep important documents (passports, status cards, birth certificates, health cards, will, passwords etc.) in an easily retrievable place.
2.Determine an out of town contact on whom you could call for shelter.
3.IMPORTANT: keep your gas tank at least half full. If you must leave town on short notice, line-ups at stations will be long, or gas may even be inaccessible.
Sioux Lookout has an extensive emergency plan. If necessary our emergency personnel will provide information by radio, internet, in person, or through our new Municipal Alert Service. This service will deliver emergency notifications to you by text message, email, or voice calls. So, even if you don’t have a cell phone, you can receive notifications to your land line as well. To register, visit siouxlookout.ca and click “Sign up for Municipal Alerts” from the “I’d Like to…” menu at the top of the page.
Be prepared for disasters regardless of their origins.
Councillor Joyce Timpson, Sioux Lookout Municipal Environment Committee