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Civil Protection

In Sherbrooke, all departments involved during emergency situations and disasters are prepared for, trained in, and ready to handle various situations that may impact the population. Are you prepared to ensure your family’s safety?

What is emergency preparedness? 

Emergency preparedness relies on the sharing of responsibilities between residents, businesses, the municipality, and the Québec government. It comprises all actions and measures put in place by society as a whole to be aware of risks, prevent disasters, and limit negative impacts on the population, property, and the environment. It also aims to facilitate the return to everyday life following a disaster.

Do you have everything you need to ensure your family’s safety for the first 72 hours?

In emergency situations, it is your responsibility to ensure that you and your family are safe and that you have what you need to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. In the event of a disaster, our emergency teams must respond to the most urgent and immediate needs, so it may take some time for them to reach you. During these first three days, we want to ensure that you are safe. Here is a list of the main things to have in your 72-hour kit.

Don’t forget to include all the items you need every day, such as reading glasses, hearing aids and replacement batteries, an up-to-date list of your prescription medications, denture cleaners, diapers, etc.

You may also order an emergency preparedness kit from the Red Cross.

List of important telephone numbers

Be ready for anything! 

Consult the following fact sheets to know what to do during various types of disasters that could occur in Sherbrooke.

You can print the document with all fact sheets (159 KB) if you need.

During heatwaves:

  • Stay well hydrated.
  • Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages or hydrate accordingly, as alcohol may exacerbate dehydration. 
  • Cool off regularly.
  • Protect yourself from the heat and sun.
  • Minimize physical exertion.
  • Wear light clothing.
  • Check the state of health of your loved ones, especially if they are experiencing a loss of autonomy or live alone.
  • Follow your doctor’s recommendations, if applicable.
  • Monitor information about the situation and instructions posted on the Ville de Sherbrooke’s Facebook page or broadcast via local media, and follow the recommendations of the authorities. 
  • If possible, remain in air-conditioned areas.
  • Consult the list of cooling centres and the opening hours of municipal pools.

A severe thunderstorm watch often follows an extreme heat event. If this occurs:

  • Monitor weather warnings and instructions issued by the authorities via the radio, television, and Internet.
  • Put away anything that could be blown away or torn loose by the wind, such as garden furniture and other outdoor objects.
  • Close your windows.
  • Plan for the possibility that there could be a power outage (refer to the power outage section).
  • Take the weather forecast into account before travelling. Don’t drive in the event of a severe thunderstorm. Wait for the authorities to announce that everything is back to normal.

If emergency services instruct you to shelter-in-place:

  • Close and lock windows and exterior doors.
  • Turn off air exchangers, as well as heating and air conditioning systems connected to an exterior air inlet, to prevent contaminated air from entering. 
  • Go to an interior room that is above ground level (if possible, one without windows).
  • Use adhesive tape or damp cloths to seal cracks around the doors and air vents.
  • Monitor changes to the situation via the radio, Facebook, and Twitter, and by consulting the Ville de Sherbrooke’s website at: Sherbrooke.ca.
  • To obtain assistance from emergency services, call 9-1-1.

Only authorities have the jurisdiction to decide if you should shelter-in-place. Making the personal decision to stay in your own home could lead to serious repercussions.

If you have an animal: 

Keep your animal inside. Animals are very sensitive to sudden temperature changes and they often hide when they are afraid. Never leave your animal outdoors or tied up.

Separate dogs and cats. Keep small animals, such as hamsters, away from larger animals. Stress may trigger unusual behaviour. 

Follow the instructions issued by the authorities.

To prepare yourself before an evacuation order is issued:

  • Leave your house as soon as you are advised to do so by the authorities. 
  • Bring your emergency kit with you. 
  • Shut off the main water supply, open your taps, and flush the toilets to drain as much water as possible.   
  • If there is a risk of freezing, leave a few baseboard heaters set to 15°C. 
  • Shut off the gas.
  • Lock your doors and close your windows.
  • Take the designated route and look for information regarding road closures.
  • Monitor information about the situation and instructions issued by the authorities via the radio, television, and Internet. 
  • Inform close family and friends of the situation.

If you have an animal:

The best way to protect your animal in an emergency is to take them to an animal shelter. Most accommodations accept service animals only. 

Make a list of places at which you could leave your animal in the event that you must evacuate. This list may include:

  • Kennels and animal shelters;
  • Veterinary clinics;
  • Family members and friends.

Make sure your animal is part of family emergency planning drills.

Prevention:

  • Designate a meeting point.
  • Conduct an evacuation drill once a year.
  • Check your smoke detectors (one per floor) and change the batteries twice per year, when you change the clocks.
  • Smoke detectors should be less than 10 years old.
  • Inform residents of the process to follow in the event of a fire. 

 

When the smoke alarm or fire alarm system is activated:

  • Check the situation.
  • If a fire has started, call 9-1-1.
  • If possible, extinguish the fire and ask the other residents to evacuate.
  • If you are unable to extinguish the fire, exit the building via the nearest door, then proceed to the meeting point.
  • Do not go back inside the building.
  • Perform a head count.
  • Inform the firefighters of the status of the situation.

If you witness an incident involving chemical or biological substances, call 9-1-1 and follow the instructions.

The authorities will decide if you should evacuate your home or shelter-in-place, in which case you should consult the evacuation or shelter-in-place section and follow the instructions.

If the Ville de Sherbrooke issues a flood watch

 

Before water enters your home:

  • Shut off the gas by closing the valve on the outdoor tank.
  • Shut off the electricity by turning off the main breaker.
  • Move as many objects as possible to higher ground.
  • Plug the toilet bowl and drains to prevent sewer backups.
  • Seal all doors, windows, and any other point where water could enter.

 

While water is coming into your home:

  • Do not go into a flooded basement that may have live wires or appliances.
  • If you have not already turned off the power, do not attempt to do so.
  • Leave your home as soon as you feel that it is no longer safe, the access roads risk becoming unpassable, or the authorities advise you to do so. Then, follow the evacuation instructions.

 

Returning home:

  • Wait for the authorities to announce that it is safe to go home.
  • Have your electricity checked by a master electrician.
  • Have all affected systems inspected by a professional (oil heating, hot water tank, water purifier, etc.)
  • Do not consume well water if it was affected by the flood (refer to the drinking water contamination section).
  • Dry wet areas. You may need to open up the walls to properly dry out certain areas.
  • Wash the areas and objects that have come into contact with water.
  • Look for mould.
  • Check structural integrity (floors, foundation, etc.).
  • Throw out food and medications that have come into contact with water.
  • Document the damage with a camera or video camera.

 

If you must drive through a flooded area:

  • Do not venture onto water-covered roads.
  • If water is covering the entire road, try to take another route.
  • If you are surrounded by water and unable to leave the flooded area, call 9-1-1.
  • If you have no means of communication, try to attract attention by using your horn, hazard lights, and headlights.
  • Respect the Highway Safety Code at all times.
  • Drive slowly and carefully.

Recognizing carbon monoxide:

Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas, which is lethal if too much is inhaled. It is produced by the incomplete combustion of any fuel, such as through the use of generators, combustion heaters, and barbecues. Carbon monoxide may also enter your house via drains following dynamite blasting. Without a carbon monoxide detector, it is impossible to know if the gas is present, as it is colourless, odourless, and tasteless.

If you notice signs or symptoms of exposure, such as a headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, or unexpected falls or fainting, evacuate the premises immediately and call 9-1-1.

If you do not experience signs or symptoms:

  • Close the windows.
  • Leave the house.
  • Call 9-1-1.

During the outage:

  • Check if the power outage is limited to your house.
  • If your neighbours have power, check the circuit breakers.
  • If your neighbours do not have power, inform your power supplier.
  • Turn off as many breakers as possible to prevent surges or failures when power is restored.
  • Turn off all but one light.
  • In winter, leave a single heater on and set it to 15°C, if possible.
  • Turn off the rest using the breakers.
  • Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer doors, if possible.
  • Never use a barbecue, portable stove, or generator indoors; their use produces carbon monoxide, which is toxic when inhaled.
  • Monitor the instructions issued by the authorities via the radio (crank, battery-powered, or car) and online.
  • Exercise caution when using candles.
  • Do not use backup heaters (wood, gas, pellet, oil, etc.) if they have not been inspected and maintained in the past year.
  • If the authorities ask you to evacuate, follow the instructions.

Once power has been restored:

  • In cold weather, the first thing you should do is turn on the heating system. If possible, start by distributing heat strategically; high demand from many properties will cause the transformer breakers on the power supplier’s network to trip.
  • Check the food. If the freezer door was firmly closed, the food should have remained frozen for 24 to 36 hours. A refrigerator keeps food cold for about four hours, if the door has remained closed.

Each episode of water contamination is different. Therefore, it must be handled appropriately.

 

If the authorities inform you that your water is contaminated or if it has an unusual appearance:

If you use well water:

  • Inform everyone in your home
  • Have your water analyzed by a professional to identify the contaminant and the treatment that should be implemented.

If you use water from a municipal water system:

  • Inform everyone in your home;
  • Call 819-823-8000, Ext. 5858;
  • Follow the directions issued by the authorities. 

If your tap water is cloudy, it cannot be used for anything except flushing toilets. You must use bottled water for:

  • Drinking;
  • Preparing hot or cold beverages and infant formula;
  • Preparing food and making ice cubes;
  • Washing fruits and vegetables if they are to be eaten raw and unpeeled;
  • Brushing your teeth and shaving;
  • Washing your hands;
  • Performing your personal hygiene routine;
  • Washing dishes;
  • Washing clothes.

The time at which a storm will hit your region is predictable. However, its magnitude is difficult to predict, so you should be prepared for any eventuality.

In the event of a severe storm:

  • Stay indoors unless you have been asked to evacuate.
  • Stay away from windows, doors, and fireplaces.
  • Monitor changes to the situation via the radio, Facebook, and Twitter, and by consulting the Ville de Sherbrooke’s website at: Sherbrooke.ca.
  • If you have time, put away anything that could be blown away or torn loose by the wind, such as garden furniture and other outdoor objects.
  • Plan for the possibility that there could be a power outage (refer to the power outage section).
  • Do not drive unless it is absolutely necessary. It is preferable that you wait for the authorities to announce that everything is back to normal.
  • To obtain assistance from emergency services, call 9-1-1.
  • Do not go outside.

If you are outdoors:

  • Watch out for branches or wires that could fall.
  • Stay away from power lines. Downed lines may still be live.
  • Seek shelter indoors.
  • Do not drive. Wait for road maintenance work to be carried out after the storm has passed.

 

If you are in your vehicle:

  • Stay inside your vehicle.
  • Open your window a bit to let air in.
  • Turn on the engine for 10 minutes or so every half hour, unless the exhaust system is blocked.
  • Move your hands and feet regularly to warm up.
  • If you must shovel snow from around your vehicle, don’t tire yourself out.
  • Watch for other vehicles or emergency teams.

During the tremors:

  • Stay indoors.
  • Stay away from windows, tall furniture, and objects that are hung on a wall.
  • Take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture in a crouching position.

After the tremors:

  • Be prepared to feel aftershocks.
  • Remain calm and help others if you are able to.
  • If you think that there is an immediate risk to your safety, call 9-1-1.
  • Inspect your house and check if it has sustained any damage. If you think that it has sustained significant structural damage, do not go indoors.
  • If your house is connected to a gas supply, check if it has sustained damage. If there is a gas leak, call 9-1-1.

Monitor weather warnings and instructions issued by the authorities via the radio, television, and Internet.

If you are outdoors:

  • Stay away from power lines, buildings, and water sources.

If you are in a vehicle:

  • Pull over and stay inside your vehicle.

If you must evacuate your home