January 27th, 2020

Be prepared for the worst during cold snap

By Mabell, Dave on January 15, 2020.

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald


When winter arrives, many Albertans take an emergency kit with them on the highway.

But in weather like this, Luke Palmer urges Lethbridge residents to maintain an emergency kit at home as well.

If there’s a power failure – or if a water line freezes – he says families in the city should be able to remain self-sustaining for 72 hours.

But Palmer, the City’s emergency preparation manager, says shelters will be opened for residents forced to leave their home for a longer period. When there’s an extended power failure, for example, homes may cool down quickly since most furnaces need power to circulate the hot air.

Water may be the most urgent need. Palmer advises families to have two litres per day on hand for each person.

A variety of canned food can also help families stay in their home longer, if they have a back-up generator or another way to heat their home. Soups, stews and vegetables may be readily heated when highways are impassible and stores are running low.

For the younger generation, he adds, there’s a basic tool required.

When he was putting together an emergency supply, Palmer says – he couldn’t find a can opener in his home!

An emergency kit should also include warm clothing items, prescribed medications, spare sets of keys and other must-have items, he says. A detailed list for a 72-hour kit is posted on the City of Lethbridge website under “Living Here,” then clicking “Emergency Services” and “Emergency Preparedness.”

Families with young children or pets are reminded to consider their needs as well.

In the event evacuation to an emergency centre is required, Palmer adds, taking books to read, cards or games to play can reduce stress and boredom.

He says officials have designated the two seniors’ centres as well as the ATB Centre, the Enmax Centre and the adjacent Soccer Centre as evacuation facilities. Palmer says buildings in Exhibition Park would be used to accommodate pets temporarily.

At all times of year, Palmer says, city residents should be aware of what other risks they face, which might require evacuation. In Lethbridge, he points out, the major risk factors include severe winds, grass fires and train derailments involving volatile or toxic chemicals.

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