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First responders in Alberta urge public to be prepared for disasters

WATCH: Edmontonians converged on Hawrelak Park to learn how to prepare for potentially dangerous situations. Shallima Maharaj reports.

Emergency responders converged on William Hawrelak Park Saturday with the mission of informing the public about the benefits of having an emergency plan in place.

Get Ready In The Park was cancelled last year after the Fort McMurray wildfire. A number of this year’s participants were involved in response efforts.

“I was in the city’s emergency operations centre. We were activated for Fort McMurray to set up the reception centre for the folks that were evacuated,” explained Rob Squire, deputy fire chief, planning and The Office of Emergency Management with the City of Edmonton.

“You go to Fort McMurray and it’s an order of magnitude bigger. And it’s sort of expanding the lens you’re using to say ‘Okay, we need to think bigger. We need to think more towards the unthinkable of 90,000 people having to leave their community.”

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Get Ready In The Park comes on the heels of Emergency Preparedness Week. It represents an opportunity for the public to meet first responders, see the equipment they use and learn how to keep their families safe.

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When it comes to being ready, Squire encourages people to consider some vital questions.

“Do you need a food supply? Do you need a supply of prescription medications? Are you going to need to know who your insurance provider is and how to get a hold of them?”

READ MORE: ‘We pulled it off’: Suncor airport supervisor recounts converting hangar into hospital 1 year after Fort McMurray wildfire

With flooding affecting parts of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, questions surrounding safety and preparation have resurfaced.

A recent Duracell survey found that while roughly half of Canadians feel prepared to handle an emergency situation, only 34 per cent report having an emergency kit to sustain themselves for 72 hours, until help arrives.

“The first thing that clients say is they never thought it would happen to them, so taking the time when it’s a non-disaster situation, to make those plans – figure out what they need in advance” said Jennifer Schoenberger with the Canadian Red Cross.

The Red Cross recommends you keep a disaster preparedness kit in your home. Among the items it should contain: water, a crank or battery-operated flashlight, a first aid kit, birth or marriage certificates and insurance policies.

A phone charger that does not rely on the electricity grid is also advised by officials.

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