When disaster strikes, go online: N.L. unveils new


A laptop, the screen that says Hurricane Warning.
The Newfoundland and Labrador government’s new emergency preparedness website won’t be available unless it’s needed. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

September’s arrival means hurricane season could be around the corne, and in anticipation of extreme weather events, the provincial government has launched a new website.

But you can’t see it — at least not yet.

The new emergency preparedness tool will be housed directly on the government’s website, and will be activated only in the case of an emergency.

The idea is the site will host the most up-to-date and accurate information during a weather-related emergency event, in order to prevent disinformation from spreading elsewhere online.  

“We all know that there’s rumours or information that gets out before it’s confirmed,” said Public Safety Minister John Hogan on Thursday. “And in a disaster, that can lead to serious consequences.”

Justice Minister John Hogan stands in front of a podium with microphones.
Public Safety Minister John Hogan says September is peak hurricane season in the province. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

The website will be activated when the Emergency Services division of the Department of Justice and Public Safety deems an extreme weather emergency to be a threat to the public. 

“We want people to know that once this website is activated, the threat of extreme weather is real and adequate. Safety precautions need to be taken immediately,” said Hogan.

The website will be deactivated when the threat has passed.

“If you look for the web page now, you won’t find it because currently everything is all clear,” said Hogan.

A series of steps

The website will use a series of steps to indicate the level of threat to the province.

In the case of a hurricane, Step 1 will be a hurricane watch, monitoring which communities may be affected.

As a potentially dangerous weather event draws nearer, Step 2 would be a hurricane warning, which will recommend people prepare themselves.

“Once we move into that, then, ultimately, we’re hoping by now if you haven’t dug out your emergency preparedness kit you should definitely be thinking about that.” said Jamie Kennedy, director of emergency services.

Step 3 will be activated when the dangerous weather event is happening and the public needs to keep up with real-time information, such as road closures, impacts on infrastructure and evacuation orders.

The website will remain at Step 3 until the weather event comes to a close.

Jamie Kennedy points to table that has the contents of an emergency preparedness kit on it. John Hogan stands behind a podium.
Emergency Services director Jamie Kennedy says every house should have enough food, water and medicine to last at least 72 hours. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Kennedy says Step 4 will likely look like a deactivation of the website as the government assesses relief efforts. 

“And then we may need to have a hurricane recovery web page established.” 

Emergency preparedness kits

With hurricanes Fiona and Igor striking the province in Septembers of past years, Hogan said, now is the time to remind the public of emergency preparedness.  

Kennedy walked through the items that every home should have in anticipation of a disaster,

“The rule of thumb is that we want people to have … enough food and water for 72 hours,” said Kennedy. 

Seventy-two hours is the estimated time frame of how long first responders would need to help the most urgent needs of a community, he said. 

A table with batteries, goof, a first aid kit, keys, a phone charger, a lamp, and two first aid kits.
Kennedy says every household should have an emergency preparedness kit at the ready. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

A full list of items in the government suggested emergency preparedness kit include:

  • Two litres of drinking water per person, per day.
  • Non-perishable canned and dried foods.
  • Prescription glasses and medication.
  • Personal hygiene items.
  • Extra water for washing.
  • First aid kit.
  • Battery-operated radio.
  • Battery-operated flashlight.
  • Extra batteries.
  • Phone charger and battery bank.
  • Cash.
  • Spare house and car keys. 
  • Changes of clothing and footwear.
  • Copies of all personal documents — like identification, insurance and bank account information — in a waterproof bag.
  • A printed emergency plan with contact numbers.
  • Blankets or sleeping bags for each member of the household.

Anyone with small children should include formula, diapers, wipes, bottles and games or books in their kit, and people with pets should include pet food, extra water, bowls, a leash and a kennel.

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