Emergency Preparedness Week is a national awareness initiative that has taken place annually since 1996.
EP Week encourages Canadians to take three simple steps to become better prepared to face a range of emergencies:
Visit www.canada.ca/emergency-preparedness-week for more resources to help you and your family prepare for all types of emergencies.
Emergency Response in Kneehill County
If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that emergencies happen. And sometimes they hit close to home.
Natural disasters may be beyond our control, but there are ways to reduce the risk and the impact of whatever emergency we might face - whether natural or human-induced.
Scroll through the images below to learn more about different emergencies that happened in Kneehill County, and what you can do to prepare for similar emergencies in the future.
When – April 2018, unprecedented since 1952
Melting snow in the spring usually leads to overland flooding throughout Kneehill County, typically in the months of March and April. In 2018, the perfect storm of late snowfalls, large snow pack, and fast melting weather rapidly increased the volume of water.
The Three Hills Creek, which is fed by the Bigelow Dam, reached a peak level of 5.12 at the measuring station at Renwick. This caused flooding of the Three Hills Golf Course, and many roads and farms in that area were compromised. The Kneehills Creek, which runs through Carbon, reached a peak level of 4.318, which caused damage to the Village’s campground, trails and bridges, and eroded the banks around the “island”. The Kneehills Creek also runs along the Dunphy area, draining into the Red Deer River by Kirkpatrick, where it also caused damage with high flow and levels.
What Dangers Does Flooding Pose to You?
Flooding can cause fatalities and serious injuries for people wading in, driving through, or boating across floodwaters. Floodwaters can cause erosion, which can damage fields, roads, bridge structures, levees, and buildings with weak foundations, causing collapse without warning. Landslides and mudslides can occur. Even a few inches of floodwater in a home can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
Kneehill County’s Operations Department monitors and thaws culverts early in the spring, conducts daily inspections of the road system, and erects signage on roads prior to the warm spring melts. Kneehill County’s Emergency Management Team keeps in close contact with Alberta River Forecasters and Dixon Dam (Bigelow Dam) Operators, tracking levels, flows and temperatures. Within the Village of Carbon and the Dunphy area, bank stabilization projects were completed in 2019.
How to Prepare for Overland Flooding:
- Create a 72-hour kit: The 72-hour kit contains supplies to support you and your family for three days in an emergency. We recommend printing this list and check off items as you accumulate them. https://www.alberta.ca/alberta-emergency-management-agency.aspx
- Alerts and Notices: Know how to get current river and weather-related information, and watch for updates on these channels. https://emergencyalert.alberta.ca/
- Create an Evacuation Plan: Create an emergency plan in case you must evacuate your home, including a plan for your pet(s).
- Purchase Temporary Flood Barriers: Add temporary barriers such as flood tubes or sandbags to critical locations that are vulnerable during flooding.
- Monitor Water Levels: If you live along a waterway, visit https://rivers.alberta.ca/
Swalwell Train/Truck Incident: Dangerous Goods
When – March 9 & 10, 2020
An incident involving a train and a B-Train propane truck took place at 14:55 on March 9, 2020, at the railroad crossing along Railway Avenue in the hamlet of Swalwell. 58 homes in Swalwell and the surrounding area were evacuated due to the potential of an explosive product the truck was carrying.
What Dangers Do Dangerous Goods Incidents Pose to You?
When fire crews arrive on scene, they do an initial “size up” to determine the level of the emergency. Dangerous Goods incidents may involve evacuations due to the explosive or toxic nature of the product involved. Decisions must be made quickly to ensure the safety of First Responders and residents, with product and air flow determining the total evacuation area.
Fire Departments in our area train continuously to respond to Dangerous Goods incidents. The Kneehill Regional Emergency Management Team also train for specific possible events, and prepare plans to aid in response.
What Can You Do?
Be prepared to leave your home. Cooperate with the First Responders who are working hard to keep you safe. Listen to instructions from the municipality/First Responders through social media and door to door. You may be asked to Shelter in Place. You may be asked to avoid the area so crews can work safely. Use the Alberta ER Alert https://emergencyalert.alberta.ca/ system.
How to Prepare for Dangerous Goods Incidents:
Two orders may be enacted by First Responders, either:
- Shelter in Place – http://www.aema.alberta.ca/documents/shelter-in-place-2017.pdf
- Evacuation – Have a 72 hour kit ready in case you are evacuated from your home. The kit should contain enough supplies for you and your family to last for three days during an emergency. Do not return to your home unless you are told it is safe to do so by the municipal jurisdiction. https://www.alberta.ca/build-an-emergency-kit.aspx
Tornado on Car Show Weekend
When – June 2, 2017
The weather on June 2, 2017 was 24 degrees, cloudy with some rain, thunder, and lightning, with a 40km/h wind gusting to 80km/h from the west. There were no alerts or warnings at the time from Environment Canada, as no tornado activity could be seen on the radar leading up to the event.
A Kneehill County Peace Officer witnessed the tornado and called 911 to report the tornado moving towards the Three Hills area. Due to the annual Three Hills Car Show and Cruise Weekend, the population of of Three Hills was greatly increased, but thankfully, the tornado’s path did not enter the town. Damage did occur at one Kneehill County residence north of Three Hills, including a minor injury.
What Dangers Can A Tornado Pose to You?
Tornadoes are usually born from thunderstorms and can be very dangerous. The warmer air creates an updraft that takes one of the horizontal wind shears and moves it into a vertical position. Sometimes they move quickly (up to 70 km/hour) and leave a long, wide path of destruction. At other times the tornado is small, touching down here and there. Tornadoes usually hit in the afternoon and early evening, but they have been known to strike at night too.
The Kneehill Regional Emergency Management Team continues to train for specific possible events, and prepare plans to aid in response.
What Can You Do?
If you see a tornado, seek shelter immediately. Stay close to the ground and protect your head from flying debris. Do not follow a tornado as their path can change quickly. A tornado may look like it is stationary while it is moving-- possibly towards you.
Use the Alberta ER Alert system https://emergencyalert.alberta.ca/
How to Prepare for Tornadoes:
Watch the skies! In Alberta, we see tornadoes most frequently in June. Be prepared to seek shelter, and always be aware of your location.
- Have an Emergency Plan which includes a tornado safety kit as well as a designated shelter area, backup modes of communication, and a designated meeting place if you and your family members are separated during the event.
- Have a Tornado Preparedness Kit for a minimum of 72 hours.
When – October 2018, and many more.
2018 was an unusual year for emergencies. A field fire west of Acme put many residents in that village and area on evacuation alert as winds fueled the fire. There was also a large bale fire that year which involved 5 fire stations to respond.
What Dangers can a Grass/Wildfire Pose to You?
Grass-fires can move very quickly, especially in the spring and fall where the fields and ditches are dry and grasses become fuel for fires. The unknown winds that can appear out of nowhere play havoc on these fires. These fires can quickly threaten lives and property.
Fire Departments continue to train for various fire responses, grass and wild fires included. Fire restrictions and bans are usually implemented to try and limit the risks. We also have mutual aid agreements between the Fire Departments and other municipal districts if needed. https://www.albertafirebans.ca/
How to Prepare for a Grass Fire:
Call 911 if you see a grass-fire. Be ready to evacuate. https://www.alberta.ca/build-an-emergency-kit.aspx
When: On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
An outbreak of respiratory illness, now known to be caused by a novel (new) coronavirus, was first identified in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019.
The Federal and Provincial governments in Canada went into action, under our Public Health Acts associated with each jurisdiction.
On March 17, 2020, the Government of Alberta declared a state of public health emergency, implementing aggressive public health measures province-wide to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect Albertans. Alberta Health Services has been the lead organization for Alberta, and Kneehill County has been following their direction through this process. Some Kneehill County services have been modified due to the challenges of a pandemic.
What Dangers can a Pandemic Pose to You?
Coronaviruses are highly contagious viruses which threaten many lives. Alberta Health has issued many public health orders and recommendations, including Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Save Lives. Maintaining mental health is key in pandemics as our “normal” is interrupted.
Kneehill County’s Business Continuity Plan was activated on March 13th, 2020 and a response team was established. The BCP is continually evolving as we work through our first pandemic with many lessons learned. Public and employee safety remains our number one priority.
How to Prepare for a Pandemic:
- Prepare and respond to COVID-19 by creating a household plan of action.
- Clean your hands often. Use soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Maintain a safe distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Cover your nose and mouth with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Stay home if you feel unwell.
- If you have a fever, a cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention. Call in advance.
- Follow the directions of your local health authority https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/
72 Hours: Are you Prepared?
If an emergency happens in your community, it may take emergency workers some time to reach you. You should be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for a minimum of 72 hours.
Learn how quick and easy it is to become better prepared to face a range of emergencies-- anytime, anywhere. Use this Emergency Preparedness Guide to create your own emergency plan. Use the checklists to build a 72-hour emergency kit. These basic steps will help you take care of yourself and your loved ones during an emergency.
Emergency Preparedness for Farm Animals
Do you know how to protect your farm animals from risks posed by natural disasters, including collapsed barns, freezing weather, flooding, dehydration, and electrocution?
From barn fires to hazardous materials spills to natural disasters, emergency situations often call for special measures to shelter, care for, or transport farm pets, livestock, and poultry.
Safeguard your animals, your property, and your business by taking precautions now, no matter what the risks are in your area. Make an Emergency Plan with the Emergency Preparedness for Farm Animals guide.
For more information on Emergency Preparedness, visit getprepared.ca
Rural Emergency Plans
The Rural Emergency Plan is a new tool created by farmers and those on the front lines of emergency response. The REP is a personalized, easy-to-use tool for rural landowners to prepare for personal and environmental safety emergencies on their farms, ranches, and acreages. It's also a way to let emergency responders know critically important information about rural properties so they can respond to emergencies quickly, effectively and safely.
Basically, a REP is an emergency response map that each participant fills out for their own location. It is stored in a simple PVC tube holder typically mounted on the main power pole or another central area where it can be easily identified and accessed by emergency personnel.
Kneehill County has a limited number of Rural Emergency Plans and tubes free of charge, available for pick up at the County office. For more information, visit ruralemergencyplan.com.
The Kneehill Regional Emergency Management Agency (KREMA) is the core to Kneehill County's emergency management process. KREMA is a regional initiative involving the municipalities of Trochu, Three Hills, Linden, Carbon, Acme and Kneehill County. The Agency meets quarterly to discuss and make updates to the plan, including risk assessments.
Kneehill County Emergency Contacts:
Director Emergency Management: Deb Grosfield
Deputy Director Emergency Management: Laurie Watt
Deputy Director Emergency Management: Natalie Chubala
After Hours Emergencies: 403-443-5541