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Emergencies can happen anywhere and at any time

City is working with all levels of government to support communities, writes Vaughan fire Chief Deryn Rizzi
May 15, 2020
Chief Deryn Rizzi

If you were asked what you thought you would be doing this spring, you probably would have shared details about an upcoming vacation or special event. You likely made plans and prepared for new adventures with family and friends. It is easy to plan for the things we enjoy. However, it is equally important to our health and safety to prepare for the unexpected.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to change our plans and has demonstrated that emergencies can happen anywhere and at any time. Emergencies can result from an existing or potential threat of natural, human-caused or technological disaster and can vary in scale from localized to international. Regardless of the cause or scale, emergencies require a controlled and co-ordinated response by governments at municipal, provincial and federal levels.

The safety of everyone who lives, works and visits the City of Vaughan is our priority. On March 17, Vaughan became the first city in Ontario to declare a state of emergency in response to COVID-19. The city continues to implement measures to support and protect citizens and we are working closely with all levels of government to find ways to support the community and deliver up-to-date and accurate information about the pandemic and the resources available to residents and businesses.

Each year during the first full week of May, Canada observes Emergency Preparedness Week. The week is a reminder of the importance of having a plan and being prepared for the unexpected.

While it can be difficult to think about the possibility of an emergency, there are steps we can take to protect ourselves.

1. Create an emergency plan and be sure to include the contact details of two family members who live out of the area and can use a mobile device.

2. Prepare an emergency kit by gathering supplies and make sure everyone knows where it is stored. If you do not currently have an emergency kit, it may be difficult to gather the needed supplies. For now, collect the items you have on hand, store them together in an accessible spot and make a list of items to purchase when the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided.

3. Stay informed. Situations can change very quickly during an emergency, and it is vital to know where to find accurate, current information about what is happening, what steps should be taken to protect everyone in your household and how to access the resources you need.

It may seem unusual to be discussing planning for an emergency while we are still responding to COVID-19. However, just because we are responding to one type of emergency does not prevent another from potentially occurring. By taking time now to make and review an emergency plan and kit, you can help ensure everyone in your household will know what to do to be safe in the future.

Staying informed is something everyone can do. There are many places you can visit for current information about what is happening, what steps to take to protect yourself and your family, and how to access vital resources. The City of Vaughan shares information in several ways, including the City Update eNewsletter, which you can sign up for at and through our official social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. For more information on the city’s ongoing efforts, visit

Knowledge is power in an emergency. Having a plan, knowing what to do and staying informed can help to save lives. For more information about emergency planning or the city’s emergency plan, visit