Emergency Preparedness

Emergency preparedness is everyone's responsibility. Northumberland County, lower-tier municipalities and residents each have roles to play in preparing for emergencies.

Personal preparedness

All residents should be prepared to be self-sufficient for up to three days in the event of an emergency. Learn how you can prepare for an emergency by building emergency kits and use the tips below to stay safe and be prepared for extreme weather events:

Cyber-attacks and cyber safety

What is a cyber-attack?

A cyber-attack is a malicious, deliberate attempt to breach a digital information system.

What are the threats?

  •  Phishing: The practice of sending fraudulent emails that resemble emails from reputable sources, aimed at stealing sensitive data.
  • Malware: Malicious software designed to disrupt, damage or gain unauthorized access to a computer system
    • Ransomware: A type of malware designed to extort money by blocking access to your computer system until ransom is paid.
  • Social engineering: A tactic used to trick people into revealing sensitive information.

How can you protect yourself from a cyber-attack?

  • Be cautious when you receive messages asking for personal information.

  • When possible, verify any requests for personal information.

  • Remember that most legitimate organizations will not ask for personal information through text message or email.

  • Call your bank to verify any messages received requesting personal information or for you to take action by clicking a link.

Drought preparedness

A drought is a period of unusually dry weather that lasts long enough to produce a serious water shortage, otherwise known as a hydrologic imbalanceThis can lead to issues like crop damage and poor water quality.

Water conservation restrictions may be put in place during a drought. These may include actions like:

  • Watering lawns and washing cars on odd or even days of the week, at night or on weekends.
  • Limiting or prohibiting water use or require hand-watering instead of sprinkler systems that use large amounts of water.

While watching our water use is especially important during droughts, below are a few tips on how to conserve water year-round:

  • Never pour water down the drain when it could have other uses, such as watering your plants.
  • Take shorter showers and don’t let the water run while brushing your teeth, washing your face, or shaving.
  • Only operate dishwashers and washing machines when there is a full load or use the light wash feature.
  • When buying new appliances consider more energy/water efficient options.
  • If washing your car use a shut off nozzle on your hose so that water only flows when in use and turn off the faucet when you are done.
  • Avoid overwatering your lawn. It only needs to be watered every 5 to 7 days in the summer and 10 to 14 days in the winter.
  • Make sure to cover pools and spas when not in use to avoid evaporation.

Heat-related illnesses 

Summer is the season of extreme heat weather events. Hot weather can be a risk to health for everyone, but children and seniors are often more vulnerable. Extreme heat can put you at risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Make sure you know the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses.

Signs of heat exhaustion

  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, pale, clammy skin
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting

Signs of heat stroke

  • Confusion or altered mental state
  • Body temperature over 104°F (40°C)
  • Hot, dry, flushed skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid pulse
  • Quick, shallow breathing
  • Headache

What to do if someone is suffering from heat exhaustion

  • Rest in a cool place
  • Drink cool fluids
  • Soak in a cool bath, take a cold shower or put towels soaked in cool water on your skin
  • Loosen clothing

What to do if someone is suffering from heat stroke

  • Call 911 and stay with the person until help arrives
  • Move out of the heat immediately
  • Cover the person with cool wet cloths or soak in a cool bath

Protect yourself and prevent heat-related illnesses

  • Stay hydrated and drink water
  • Wear light, loose clothing
  • Stay out of direct sunlight 
  • Use sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at Least 15
  • Wear Ultraviolet- (UV) absorbent eyewear (sunglasses, shades, etc.)
  • Wear a hat or use screens or umbrellas to create shaded areas
  • Use fans and air conditioning
  • Never leave anyone in a parked car
  • Take it easy during the hottest parts of the day
  • Be cautious if you are in an increased risk group 


Summer is thunderstorm season. It is important not to underestimate the power of storms, as they can carry the risk of:

  • Lightning strikes 
  • Hail 
  • Flash floods 
  • High winds and potential for tornadoes 

Preparing for a storm

  • Trim branches and cut down unstable trees 
  • Keep gutters and drains clear 
  • Keep your roof in good repair 
  • Have an emergency kit ready ahead of time 

During a storm 

  • When thunder roars, stay indoors! 
  • Unplug appliances and TVs 
  • Stay away from doors and windows 
  • Use a battery-powered radio to listen for weather updates
  • If you are caught outside, crouch down

Winter driving preparedness

Be prepared and stay safe while driving in winter weather:

  • Use winter tires for better traction in snow, slush and icy conditions
  • Check air tire pressure frequently, as it decreases in cold weather
  • Make sure to have a car survival emergency kit in your car
  • Keep these tips in mind if your car gets stuck in snow:
    • Avoid spinning your tires
    • Keep the wheels straight
    • Dig out snow from around your tires
    • Carefully rock you car
    • Use floor mats to gain traction
  • For more tips on how to drive safely in winter weather and for information about our winter road operations, visit our Snow Plowing page.

This information is also available in our Emergency Preparedness Guide. To request a copy of this guide, please call or email us.

Download the What3Words app

Emergency services providers in Northumberland are encouraging people to download the what3words app, which uses an innovative grid-based address system to help first responders pinpoint a caller’s exact location and reach them with minimal delay.

what3words is being adopted by emergency services around the world as a tool to dispatch first responders to the precise location of a caller in need of help. 9-1-1 callers simply give their what3words address from the app, and first responders will immediately be dispatched to their exact location. Every 3-metre square in the world has been given a unique combination of three words: a what3words address that never changes. For example:

  • ///plopped.legions.dogged will deliver you to Presqu’ile Point Lighthouse in Brighton
  • ///study.swirly.reach is the unique address for a 3-meter square of waterfront along Port Hope’s West Beach

The app works both on- and offline, with the offline functionality making it ideal for use in rural areas that might have a poor internet connection, such as remote nature areas that are enjoyed by hikers and tourists. All the app requires to display a what3words address is a GPS signal, with a phone’s location services switched on and a clear line of sight to the sky for a GPS lock.

The free what3words app can be downloaded from app stores for iOS and Android.

Community preparedness

Northumberland County is also prepared for emergencies. Learn more about our preparedness in our Emergency Management Plan.

What we do

Even in the most prepared communities, emergencies can happen at any time. Northumberland County and our member municipalities are responsible for identifying hazards in our community and creating response plans to help keep residents and visitors safe.

During an emergency, the County assists local municipalities by working with police, fire, paramedics and other emergency responders. If an evacuation is required, we may open an emergency reception or evacuation centre to support residents who had to leave their homes.