Disaster Services & Emergency Management

Emergency Management

A disaster can happen anywhere, anytime, anyplace. The Town of Swan Hills Emergency Management combined with other Town departments and provincial and federal agencies will provide a prompt and coordinated response to a disaster  affecting the citizens of Swan Hills.

A disaster is an event resulting in serious harm to the safety, health or welfare of people or widespread damage to properties.

Swan Hills Emergency Management is responsible for developing and maintaining a municipal emergency plan, ensuring compliance with the provincial Emergency Management Act, and ensuring business continuity of town programs and services in the event of emergency or disaster incidents.

What we do?

  • Town of Swan Hills Emergency Operations Centres (EOC)
  • Emergency Management Training and Exercise Programs
  • Emergency Response
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Public Awareness & Education
  • Emergency Notification & Alerts


In some emergency situations it may become necessary to leave your home or business and move to a safer location. Planning ahead will help you cope.
Municipal officials will make every effort to keep people informed if they are located in an area that is at risk. This may be done through Alberta Emergency Alert, telephone alert, local media, pamphlets delivered door to door and emergency services personnel.

Preparing to Evacuate:

  • If you have been instructed to, and you are sure that you have time and know how to do it, shut off the water, gas and electricity.
  • Make arrangements for pets. Animals may not be allowed in reception centers.
  • Listen to a local radio station for the location of reception centers.

Follow the instructions provided by local authorities. Emergency telephone numbers are to be used only for emergency situations.

Things To Do When Evacuating:

  • Vacate your home when advised - ignoring a warning may jeopardize your safety. Your cooperation frees up emergency personnel for other life threatening duties.
  • Wear protective clothing and comfortable walking shoes.
  • Leave a note for your family saying when you departed and where you went.
  • Take your Family Emergency Supplies Kit.
  • Lock your house.
  • Follow the routes specified by officials. Do not take shortcuts.
  • Do not walk or drive through flood waters, which can sweep your car away.
  • If your car stalls in fast rising water, leave it behind; always consider safety first. Register with the reception centre so that you can be contacted and reunited with your family.
  • Notify your Family Contact of your location and condition

Shelter in Place

Shelter in place is the practice of going or remaining indoors during the release of an airborne hazardous material, as opposed to evacuating the area.
Why shelter in place is a good defense: Shelter in Place has been shown to be a safe response to a hazardous material release of three hours or less. Our well weather-stripped buildings slow the movement of air into the buildings and any hazardous material that does enter is weakened when it mixes with the indoor air.

Things to do to shelter in place:

  • Go indoors and stay there
  • Close all outside doors and every door inside the building
  • Close all windows
  • Do not use bathroom vents or kitchen vents
  • Set thermostats so air conditioners, furnaces and hot water heaters will not come on. Do not use fireplaces. Close all dampers  
  • Do not operate clothes dryer
  • Shelter in an inside room away from windows and doors if possible
  • Reduce or avoid smoking as it contaminates the air
  • Do not leave the building until told to do so
  • Use the telephone only in the event of an emergency; you may tie up the phone lines
  • Stay tuned to local television or radio for information

Things to do for added protection:

  • Seal the cracks around the doorway with wide tape and a rolled up damp towel at the floor space.
  • If there is a window, tape a piece of plastic over the window to seal it.
  • Be prepared ahead of time by cutting a piece of plastic to the window size and storing it and some tape in your Shelter in Place.

It is imperative you stay indoors, especially if you see a cloud, vapour or smoke from the hazardous material outdoors or you can smell it indoors. You will be safer inside. Stay tuned to local television or radio for information.

Things to do if you are in a vehicle and encounter an airborne hazardous meterial release:

  • Move away from the "danger area" and avoid visible clouds.
  • Turn on your radio and follow all instructions from emergency services personnel. If it is a flammable material you will be required to shut off your vehicle and evacuate the area.
  • Close all windows and air vents. Shut off the heater or air conditioner so that it is not blowing air.
  • In most cases you are safer to drive from the area than to try and wait it out in a vehicle.
  • If you can not drive out of the "danger area," shut off your vehicle and wait with the radio on. Turn on your hazard lights and use your horn and headlights to attract attention.

How to Prepare

Personal Preparedness Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighbourhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if you did not have water, gas, electricity or telephones after a major emergency? No matter how well your community has planned their response to a disaster, in the event of a large-scale incident, first response resources may quickly become overwhelmed. To ensure the safety and well-being of you and your family, you should prepare now to take care of your own basic needs for at least the first 72 hours following a major disaster.

If a disaster strikes, remember to:

  • Remain calm and patient. Put your plan into action.
  • Check for injuries.
  • Give first aid and get help for seriously injured people.
  • Listen to your battery-powered radio or television for news and instructions from local authorities.
  • Evacuate, if advised to do so. Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes.
  • Check for damage in your home.
  • Use flashlights. Do not use matches, lighters or turn on electrical switches.
  • Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows and get everyone outside quickly. You will need a professional to turn gas back on.
  • Shut off any other damaged utilities.
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline and other flammable liquids immediately.
  • Call your family contact - do not use the telephone again unless it is a life-threatening emergency.
  • Check on your neighbours, especially elderly or disabled persons.
  • Make sure you have an adequate water supply in case service is cut off.
  • Stay away from downed power lines.
  • Confine or secure your pet


Alberta Emergency Management

Emergency management in Alberta is a graduated system of involvement with a community based, all hazards approach which begins with individuals and families, then the municipal government (i.e. local authority), followed by the provincial government and, ultimately, in the direst of circumstances, the federal government. The response to an emergency occurs at the lowest level and increases to the next level of response based on need.

Individual and Family

Each citizen is charged with his or her own personal emergence preparedness. Knowing what to do when a major emergency or disaster occurs in the community and what personal preparedness measures are needed (such as a family emergency plan) will strengthen individuals and families ability to care for themselves. It is recommended that individuals be prepared for up to 72 hours. For information on personal emergency preparedness, refer to the AEMA (Alberta Emergency Management Agency) website.



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