During a disaster

Follow the authorities' instructions

When the situation demands it, the authorities will issue instructions and recommendations. To ensure your safety and that of your family, follow those instructions. Tune in to your local radio and television stations, or follow them on social media for instructions and information about the situation. Rely only on reputable sources of information. Consult your municipality’s website, the Urgence Québec website and the websites of the authorities in question. Don’t hesitate to pass along any security instructions being provided by the authorities by social media.


Report any incident or event to the following organizations when people safety is at risk:

Keeping in touch during an emergency

It is natural to call family members to reassure them or check up on them during a disaster or emergency. In some cases, however, communication systems may be unavailable or overloaded. Keep the following in mind:

  • It’s better to use email, text messages and social media messaging to contact family members, to avoid overburdening the voice networks. This will leave telephone lines open for emergency calls.
  • If you must use the telephone, be brief and provide essential information only. If you makes short telephone calls, you will extend the life of your cellphone battery.
  • Avoid non-essential wireless Internet communication, in particular, you should avoid sending photos and video.
  • Use web applications specially designed to search for loved ones in emergency situations, such as Facebook’s Safety Check, Google Person Finder or the Red Cross Restoring Family Links.
  • Avoid spreading false, unlikely or unimportant information. Spreading incorrect information can slow down emergency response times and put lives at risk.

In the case of a terrorist attack or active shooter, don’t post photos and video to social media. It could help the attackers. Contact the police to find out if your images could be useful.

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Adopt good behaviour and the right attitude

In the event of a disaster:

  • Keep your family together in a safe place.
  • Locate the other members of your family and your friends affected by the disaster and join them as soon as there is no longer any danger. If you can’t get home, go to the meeting place identified in your family safety plan.
  • Comfort your family and friends and offer them support.
  • Talk about your emotions with a loved one or an intervener to reduce your level of tension.
  • Make concrete gestures that will help you pass the time and better handle the situation.
  • Get information by listening to the media and interveners.
  • Offer assistance to those around you who need it.

Children are especially vulnerable during a disaster. Comfort and reassure them about their feelings. Keep them near you and explain to them what is happening. Encourage them to talk about the situation and let them help out. Avoid allowing them to watch images of the disaster on television or other electronic devices (laptops, tablets. etc.).

Persons with special needs may also need support. Always ask the person if he or she wants assistance and how you can be of help. Before taking action, explain to the person what you intend to do. Express yourself clearly and calmly, without raising your voice. Avoid lifting, supporting or physically assisting a person if you are not familiar with recommended safety techniques.

Contact your municipality if you want to offer your assistance (for example, to fill sand bags or help out with community clean-ups). If you’re volunteering following a natural disaster, make sure you work safely (in French only)!

Be confortable with the media

The presence of the media during a disaster is normal. Journalists are there to do their job, in keeping with their code of ethics. If a journalist asks you for an interview as a victim or a witness, you can:

  • Agree to the interview. Your comments, the images and the sound of the interview then become the property of the media and are used at their discretion.
  • Agree to the interview while setting your conditions: you can prohibit the media from naming you, showing your image or using your voice.
  • Politely refuse the interview.

In case of evacuation

If the authorities ask you to evacuate your home, your municipality will set up a service centre for disaster victims. You should register at the centre or indicate your place of temporary residence, for example, with family members, neighbors or friends.

If you leave your home of your own volition for safety reasons, inform your municipality by indicating the time of your departure and the location of your temporary housing.

Notify your employer and service suppliers

If you must miss work because you are directly affected by a disaster, notify your employer within a reasonable time and work out together the necessary arrangements.

Notify your service suppliers of your situation and make the necessary arrangements with them.

Other useful link

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Social media

Urgence Québec Twitter page

Urgence Québec Facebook page

Publications Facebook