Logo for the Cornwall Office of Emergency ManagementEmergency situations and disasters may seem like a distant possibility, but many will remember the 2009 H1N1 Pandemic, SARS outbreak in 2003 and 1998 Ice Storm. These events have forever raised the awareness of how important it is to prepare for emergencies.

Learn more about Emergency Management and how you can join us in ensuring Cornwall is a disaster-resilient community.

Prepare Now - Here is How

 Step 1 : Be Informed

Emergency response begins with the individual, then the community, the Provincial Government and then the Federal Government.

Emergency management is truly a joint effort. Please join us at ensuring the City of Cornwall is a disaster resilient community, and prepare now.

First, become informed of the risks found in your community (Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment). Knowing the possible risks will help you better plan for these risks. Make sure you have explored insurance coverage for the rBe Prepared.  Prepare you family emergency survival kit today.  Find out how.ange of risks found in Cornwall like flood and earthquake insurance which are not always a part of normal house insurance policies. Think about how your family might respond to each risk.

Next, you should become informed of your children's school and/or daycare's Evacuation and Emergency Plans. Ensure that they know your current contact information.

Find out about the Emergency Plan at your workplace. What would be your role in case of an emergency?

Ask questions - be informed.

 Step 2 : Make a Plan
Blue and yellow poster for Emergency Preparedness Action Plan.

Prepare a Family Emergency Plan. The objective of a family emergency plan is to be prepared to be self-sufficient for a minimum of 72 hours. To prepare consider the following:

  • An out of area contact; someone each member of the family can call in case of an emergency. This person can help family members stay in touch and get together if they are separated. Be sure to pick someone who is far enough away so as not to be affected by the same situation.
  • Temporary accommodation for your family, such as a friend's place, family or hotel, where you can stay for a few days in case you are evacuated.
  • Temporary accommodation for your pets. If the above temporary accommodations do not accept animals, you should plan for alternate accommodations for your pets such as  kennels and/or the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA). Remember: not all family members, friends, emergency shelters or hotels accept animals.
  • Have all your important contact information listed in your Family Emergency Plan (local emergency numbers, out of town contacts, family contacts, work numbers, school/daycare numbers, temporary accommodation numbers and other important numbers).
  • Health information should be recorded in your plan. Make copies of all your prescription medicines and any medical allergies.
  • Print out your Family Emergency Plan and give a copy to each member of your family, your out of area contact, your children's school/daycare, post a copy near your home telephone, and place one in your emergency kit.
 Step 3: Prepare a Emergency Kit

Assemble a 72 Hour Emergency Kit for each person. Having supplies on hand can help you survive the emergency and, if necessary, make you self-sufficient for three days or longer. Emergency kits should be portable so place in an easy to carry duffel bag or container. 

 

Prepare Now, Emergency Survivial Checklist.  Learn How.

Checklist:

  • flashlight and batteries
  • radio and batteries or crank radio
  • spare batteries (for radio and flashlight)
  • first aid kit
  • candles and matches/lighter
  • extra car keys and cash
  • important papers (identification, insurance policy, Passport, Health and Benefit Cards, Family Emergency Plan, etc.)
  • food and bottled water (enough for 72 hours)
  • clothing and footwear (appropriate for the season)
  • blankets or sleeping bags
  • toilet paper, hygiene items and other personal items
  • medication or a printed list of prescription medicine
  • backpack/duffle bag (to hold all of the emergency survival kit items)
  • whistle (to attract attention, if needed)
  • playing cards/games
  • other items important to you

72 Hour Emergency Kit

Definitions in Emergency Management

These definitions are from Emergency Management Ontario's Hazard Identification Risk Assessment definitions, 2012.

Overhead view and example of Flooding of homes and businesses

Terms Definitions
Acceptable Risk The level of potential losses that a society or community considers acceptable given existing social, economic, political, cultural, technical and environmental conditions. 
Assessment The evaluation and interpretation of available information to provide a basis for decision-making.
Building Code  A set of ordinances or regulations and associated standards intended to control aspects of the design, construction, materials, alteration and occupancy of structures that are necessary to ensure human safety and welfare, including resistance to collapse and damage.
Business/Financial Impact The negative economic consequences of the occurrence of a hazard.
Changing Risk A variable in the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment (HIRA) methodology that allows for the inclusion of information on changes in the likelihood and vulnerability of the hazard.
Climate Change A change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g., by using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. Climate change may be due to natural internal processes or external forcing, or to persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land use.
Community  A generic term that includes both municipalities and First Nations.
Comprehensive Emergency Management It is an all-encompassing risk-based approach to Emergency Management that includes Prevention, Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery measures.
Consequence The outcome of an event or situation expressed qualitatively or quantitatively, being a loss, injury or disadvantage (Glossary of Terms, 2011). 
Critical Infrastructure  Interdependent, interactive, interconnected networks of institutions, services, systems and processes that meet vital human needs, sustain the economy, protect public safety and security, and maintain continuity of and confidence in government. (In Ontario, Critical Infrastructure is classified into one of nine Sectors: Food and Water, Transporation, Financial Institutions, Electricity, Communication Systems, Health Care, Public Safety and Security, Gas and Oil and Continuity of Government.)
Critical Infrastructure Impact The negative consequences of the occurrence of a hazard on the interdependent, interactive, interconnected networks of institutions, services, systems and processes that meet vital human needs, sustain the economy, protect public safety and security, and maintain continuity of and confidence in government. 
 Current Risk The present level of risk associated with a hazard.
Damage Assessment An appraisal or determination of the effects of a disaster on people, property, the environment, the economy and/or services.
Declared Emergency A signed declaration made in writing by the Head of Council or the Premier of Ontario in accordance with the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. This declaration is usually based on a situation or an impending situation that threatens public safety, public health, the environment, critical infrastructure, property, and/or economic stability and exceeds the scope of routine community emergency response.
Emergency A situation or an impending situation that constitutes a danger of major proportions that could result in serious harm to persons or substantial damage to property and that is caused by the forces of nature, a disease or other health risk, an accident or an act whether intentional or otherwise.
Emergency Area A geographic area within which an emergency has occurred or is about to occur, and which has been identified, defined and designated to receive emergency response actions.
Emergency Management  Organized activities undertaken to prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to and recover from actual or potential emergencies.
Emergency Management Program A risk-based program consisting of prescribed elements that may include prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery activities. 
Emergency Plan A plan developed and maintained to direct an organization’s external and/or internal response to an emergency.
Environmental Damage  The negative consequences of the occurrence of a hazard on the environment, including the soil, water, air and/or plants and animals.
Frequency How often a hazard occurs at an intensity that may result in an emergency, disaster or service disruption.
Hazard  A phenomenon, substance, human activity or condition that may cause loss of life, injury or other health impacts, property damage, loss of livelihoods and services, social and economic disruption, or environmental damage. These may include natural, technological or human-caused incidents or some combination of these.
Hazard Identification  A structured process for identifying those hazards which exist within a selected area and defining their causes and characteristics.
 Historical Risk The level of risk associated with a hazard in the past. The level of risk may have been altered by changes in consequence, frequency or prevention, preparedness, mitigation, response or recovery practices.
Human-Cause Hazard  Human-caused hazards are hazards which result from direct human action or inaction, either intentional or unintentional. This includes hazards that arise from problems within organizational structure of a company, government etc.
Impact The negative effect of a hazardous incident on people, property, the environment, the economy and/or services.
Incident  An occurrence or event that requires an emergency response to protect life, property, or the environment.
Land Use Planning The process undertaken by public authorities to identify, evaluate and decide on different options for the use of land to help mitigate and prevent disasters by discouraging settlements and construction of key installations in hazard-prone areas.
Mitigation  Actions taken to reduce the adverse impacts of an emergency or disaster.
Monitor and Review The part of the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment (HIRA) process in which the HIRA is reviewed and changes in the likelihood and consequences of the hazards is updated.
Municipality  “Municipality” means a geographic area whose inhabitants are incorporated.
Natural Hazard Natural hazards are those which are caused by forces of nature (sometimes referred to as ‘Acts of God’). Human activity may trigger or worsen the hazard; (for example deforestation may increase the risk of a landslide) but the hazard ultimately is viewed as a force of nature.
Preparedness  Actions taken prior to an emergency or disaster to ensure an effective response. These actions include the formulation of Emergency Response Plans, Business Continuity or Continuity of Operations Plans, training, exercises, and public awareness and education.
Prevention Actions taken to avoid an emergency or disaster and the associated impacts of a hazard.
Property Damage The direct negative consequences of the occurrence of a hazard on buildings, structures and other forms of property.
Psychosocial Impact  The negative response of community or a subset of the community to a hazard caused by their perception of risk. This includes human responses such as self-evacuation, mass hysteria, hoarding and other potential undesirable responses.
Recovery The process of restoring a stricken community to a pre-disaster level of functioning.
Resources  These are personnel and major items of equipment, supplies, and facilities available or potentially available for assignment to incident operations and for which status is maintained. Resources are described by kind and type and may be used in operational or support capacities. 
Response The provision of emergency services and public assistance or intervention during or immediately after an incident in order to protect people, property, the environment, the economy and/or services.
Return Period  The average time between occurrences of a defined event.
Risk The product of the probability of the occurrence of a hazard and its consequences.
Risk Analysis  The process by which hazards are prioritized for Emergency Management Programs at that particular point in time based on their frequency and potential consequences.
Risk Assessment A methodology to determine the nature and extent of risk by analyzing potential hazards and the evaluation of vulnerabilities and consequences.
Severity  The extent of disruption and/or damages associated with a hazard.
Site A geographical location of an incident.
Social Impact  The direct negative consequences of the occurrence of a hazard on people, such as fatalities, injuries or evacuations.
Technological Hazard Technological hazards are hazards which arise ‘from the manufacture, transportation, and use of such substances as radioactive materials, chemicals, explosives, flammables, modern technology and critical infrastructure’.
Threat  A person, thing or event that has the potential to cause harm or damage.
Vulnerability The susceptibility of a community, system or asset to the damaging effects of a hazard.

Know the Risks

The Cornwall Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) was first adopted in March 2010 and continues to be reviewed annually, with the latest revision having been completed in December 2017. A hazard is described as an event or physical condition that has the potential to cause fatalities, injuries, property damage, infrastructure damage, agricultural loss, damage to the environment, interruption of business, or other types of harm or loss.

This assessment was completed by first reviewing the 40 major hazards facing the Province of Ontario. The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) also supplied a definition and description of each hazard. From this list a historical review of hazardous occurrences in the City of Cornwall was completed. Furthermore, expertise advice was researched concerning the possibility of some hazards occurring even though the historical occurrences were not recent.

For example, although Cornwall has not had a major earthquake since September 5, 1944, seismologist research states that earthquakes remain a hazard in this area due to the fact Cornwall is near several fault lines. In southern Canada, the slow movement of the North American plate southwestwards at a few centimetres per year creates sufficient stresses to cause earthquakes along faults or zones of weakness such as along the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Valleys and the Atlantic seaboard (Natural Hazards of Canada Map - OCIPEP).

Once a comprehensive list of specific community hazards was created, the probability and potential consequence of each hazard was determined. Finally a community risk assessment grid was completed resulting in the prioritization of risks found in the City of Cornwall.

The Cornwall Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) acts as the foundation for Cornwall's risk-based emergency management program.

 

Cornwall Significant Hazards

Likely hazards include Hazardous Materials from transportation incidents or fixed sites, Earthquake, Cyber Attacks, Floods, Explosion or Large Fires, Freezing Rain and Transporation Emergenies.

Other possible hazards include Human Health Emergencies, Snowstorm or Blizzards, Civil Disorder, Energy Supply Emergency, Critical Infrastructure Failure, Tornado, Extreme Temperatures and Oil or Natural Gas Emergency.

 

Hazardous Materials - Transporation Incident

Hazardous Materials Incident: the unintentional release of a material that is considered to be hazardous to humans, animals, plants or the environment due to its explosive, flammable, combustible, corrosive, oxidizing, toxic, infectious or radioactive properties.

Transportation Incident: A transportation incident is one in which the release occurs during the transport (by means of road, rail, air or marine) of a hazardous material.

Description

Many potentially hazardous materials are used daily for a variety of purposes. When properly contained and stored, hazardous materials are fairly stable and safe. Every community has at least one facility that stores, produces or utilizes a hazardous material. These facilities include: water treatment plants, textiles manufactures, dry cleaners, chemical manufactures and even schools. Depending on the type of hazardous material, it can become a threat when their container is ruptured, exposed to extreme heat/cold, exposed to fire, water or another substance that when combined produces a reaction.

People watching salvage operation on St. Lawrence RiverA hazardous materials incident at a fixed site or during transport can be caused by a human error or a technological malfunction. Traffic accidents can result in a hazardous materials transportation incident if one or both of the vehicles is carrying a hazardous material. Infrequently, a release can be caused by a natural hazard such as a flood.

Classification applies primarily to transportation and is regulated by the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act. Hazardous materials can be classified as falling into one of nine classes:

  • Class 1 Explosives
  • Class 2 Gasses
  • Class 3 Flammable liquids
  • Class 4 Flammable solids, spontaneously combustibles, substances that, on contact with water, emit flammable gases
  • Class 5 Oxidizing substances, organic peroxides
  • Class 6 Poisonous (toxic), infectious substances
  • Class 7 Radioactive materials
  • Class 8 Corrosives
  • Class 9 Miscellaneous products or substances, miscellaneous identified dangerous goods certain specified goods considered dangerous to the environment, dangerous wastes.

Factors that can influence the impact of a hazardous materials incident include: changes in the manufacturing or storage process, equipment changes, aging technology and distribution systems, the population density of the surrounding area, the topography, traffic volume, weather conditions and the type of hazardous material being transported or located at a site.

The concentration, dispersal and range of materials which are hazardous in a gaseous form depend on atmospheric conditions. Depending on the amount and type of material released and the presence of an atmospheric cap, a high wind speed could either disperse the gas so that it no longer poses a threat or it could increase the affected area. A fire that occurs in a location in which hazardous materials are stored may result in toxic smoke which could hinder the extinguishing of the fire. A fire could also result in the release of toxic gas.

Hazardous materials can have a variety of negative impacts depending on the type of material. Some materials may have immediate or long-term impacts. Immediate impacts could be caused by the flammability or the corrosivity of the material while long-term impacts may arise from the accumulation of toxins in the bones or bloodstream or the persistence of the material in the environment. Hazardous materials can enter the human body through absorption (usually through the eyes or skin), ingestion (through swallowing) or inhalation (breathing in a material which is then absorbed by the lungs).

Different types of hazardous materials can be dangerous in their solid, liquid or gaseous states or possibly in all three. Not all hazardous materials are detectable by humans in their gaseous state. Some are colourless and odourless. This type of hazardous material is generally dangerous to humans through inhalation. Many types of hazardous gases (e.g., chlorine) are heavier than air and therefore, accumulate in low lying areas.

Hazardous materials in a liquid state may seep into the ground or into porous building materials such as concrete. If enough material is released and has a low enough viscosity, it may be able to travel through the ground and contaminate groundwater and well water, possibly triggering a water quality emergency. Hazardous materials can also enter the water supply through overland flow and contaminate streams, rivers, ponds and lakes. Flammable materials that are either less dense than water which have been released into a body of water may still ignite. There have been recorded instances in which hazardous materials in a liquid state have entered sewer systems and ignited resulting in underground fires.

Materials that are hazardous in their solid state often are hazardous through contact or ingestion. In most situations, their range of impact is usually much smaller than that of a liquid or gas. However, solid materials may react with fire, water or other substances to result in an explosion or another less than desirable outcome depending on the type of material.

* Acknowledgement: This information above is sourced from the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment, Province of Ontario, Emergency Management Ontario, 25 January 2012.

Hazardous Materials - Fixed Site Incident

Hazardous Materials Incident: the unintentional release of a material that is considered to be hazardous to humans, animals, plants or the environment due to its explosive, flammable, combustible, corrosive, oxidizing, toxic, infectious or radioactive properties.

Fixed Site Incident: one is which the release occurs at a location in which the hazardous material is stored, produced or utilized.

Description

Many potentially hazardous materials are used daily for a variety of purposes. When properly contained and stored, hazardous materials are fairly stable and safe. Every community has at least one facility that stores, produces or utilizes a hazardous material. These facilities include: water treatment plants, textiles manufactures, dry cleaners, chemical manufactures and even schools. Depending on the type of hazardous material, it can become a threat when their container is ruptured, exposed to extreme heat/cold, exposed to fire, water or another substance that when combined produces a reaction.

A hazardous materials incident at a fixed site or during transport can be caused by a human error or a technological malfunction. Traffic accidents can result in a hazardous materials transportation incident if one or both of the vehicles is carrying a hazardous material. Infrequently, a release can be caused by a natural hazard such as a flood.

Classification applies primarily to transportation and is regulated by the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act. Hazardous materials can be classified as falling into one of nine classes:

  • Class 1 Explosives
  • Class 2 Gasses
  • Class 3 Flammable liquids
  • Class 4 Flammable solids, spontaneously combustibles, substances that, on contact with water, emit flammable gases
  • Class 5 Oxidizing substances, organic peroxides
  • Class 6 Poisonous (toxic), infectious substances
  • Class 7 Radioactive materials
  • Class 8 Corrosives
  • Class 9 Miscellaneous products or substances, miscellaneous identified dangerous goods certain specified goods considered dangerous to the environment, dangerous wastes.

Factors that can influence the impact of a hazardous materials incident include: changes in the manufacturing or storage process, equipment changes, aging technology and distribution systems, the population density of the surrounding area, the topography, traffic volume, weather conditions and the type of hazardous material being transported or located at a site.

Large building with roof on fireThe concentration, dispersal and range of materials which are hazardous in a gaseous form depend on atmospheric conditions. Depending on the amount and type of material released and the presence of an atmospheric cap, a high wind speed could either disperse the gas so that it no longer poses a threat or it could increase the affected area. A fire that occurs in a location in which hazardous materials are stored may result in toxic smoke which could hinder the extinguishing of the fire. A fire could also result in the release of toxic gas.

Hazardous materials can have a variety of negative impacts depending on the type of material. Some materials may have immediate or long-term impacts. Immediate impacts could be caused by the flammability or the corrosivity of the material while long-term impacts may arise from the accumulation of toxins in the bones or bloodstream or the persistence of the material in the environment. Hazardous materials can enter the human body through absorption (usually through the eyes or skin), ingestion (through swallowing) or inhalation (breathing in a material which is then absorbed by the lungs).

Different types of hazardous materials can be dangerous in their solid, liquid or gaseous states or possibly in all three. Not all hazardous materials are detectable by humans in their gaseous state. Some are colourless and odourless. This type of hazardous material is generally dangerous to humans through inhalation. Many types of hazardous gases (e.g., chlorine) are heavier than air and therefore, accumulate in low lying areas.

Hazardous materials in a liquid state may seep into the ground or into porous building materials such as concrete. If enough material is released and has a low enough viscosity, it may be able to travel through the ground and contaminate groundwater and well water, possibly triggering a water quality emergency. Hazardous materials can also enter the water supply through overland flow and contaminate streams, rivers, ponds and lakes. Flammable materials that are either less dense than water which have been released into a body of water may still ignite. There have been recorded instances in which hazardous materials in a liquid state have entered sewer systems and ignited resulting in underground fires.

Materials that are hazardous in their solid state often are hazardous through contact or ingestion. In most situations, their range of impact is usually much smaller than that of a liquid or gas. However, solid materials may react with fire, water or other substances to result in an explosion or another less than desirable outcome depending on the type of material.

* Acknowledgement: This information above is sourced from the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment, Province of Ontario, Emergency Management Ontario, 25 January 2012.

Earthquake

DefinitionCornwall mural called the Night Cornwall Shook

‘An earthquake occurs when slip along a fault in the earth. Energy is released during an earthquake in several forms, including as movement along the fault, as heat, and as seismic waves that radiate out from the "source" in all directions and cause the ground to shake, sometimes hundreds of kilometers away’ (Natural Resources Canada, 2009).

 

Description

Earthquakes can occur anywhere but are most common on active fault lines found at tectonic plate boundaries (Natural Resources Canada, 2009). Earthquakes are caused by the movement and deformation of the tectonic plates caused by the heating and cooling of rock underneath them. Every so often, the stress on the rocks accumulates until it is suddenly released in a rapid burst of movement: an earthquake.

Earthquakes have also been recorded by seismic instruments (and occasionally felt by people) in areas that are nowhere near plate boundaries. These earthquakes are referred to as ‘intraplate earthquakes’. There are several theories on what causes these earthquakes, including that they occur along ancient fault lines or that they are caused in part by postglacial uplift, but their cause is not fully understood. Movement is usually an extremely slow process with the rates of plate movements between 2 to 12 centimetres per year at tectonic plate boundaries (Natural Resources Canada, 2009) and is even slower in intraplate earthquake zones with deformation occurring at a rate of only a few mm/year. This results in fewer earthquakes and makes their frequency and potential consequence difficult to estimate. While intraplate earthquakes are much rarer than plate boundary earthquakes, ones of the same consequences in continental shields can cause stronger shaking at greater distances from the epicentre (the origin point of the earthquake) than plate boundary earthquakes. This occurs primarily because the crystalline rock common to these shield regions transmits stronger shaking over greater distances. Earthquakes in intraplate areas such as the New Madrid seismic zone in the United States are 30-100 times less frequent than those in California due to the rate of movement and deformation.

Black and white photo of CCVS schoolAlthough most earthquakes are natural, human activities have caused small earthquakes. These include mining activities (including underground collapses and rockbursts), oil recovery and the filling of reservoirs behind large dams. Underground nuclear explosions are also known to have caused minor earthquakes near the test site (Natural Resources Canada, 2009).

Earthquakes are measured by their consequence, ‘a measure of the amount of energy released during an earthquake’ (Natural Resources Canada, 2009). While the first magnitude scale was the Richter scale, today there are several different regional magnitude scales, of which the most universal today is the moment magnitude scale, which assesses the amount of energy released by an earthquake. This scale is logarithmic which means that a magnitude six earthquake releases approximately 30 times more energy than a magnitude five earthquake but is 900 times greater than an earthquake of magnitude four. According to Natural Resources Canada (2009), a magnitude of five is generally viewed as the threshold for damage to occur.Map of Eastern Ontario area showing the earthquake activity over a 5 year period.

The shaking produced by an earthquake at a given site is measured by the intensity, which describes its impact on natural features, buildings and people (Natural Resources Canada, 2009). The Modified Mercalli intensity scale ranges from one (the earthquake is recorded by instruments but is not felt by people) to twelve (total destruction of buildings).

The amount and type of damage depends on the magnitude of the earthquake, the distance from the earthquake epicenter (the origin point of the earthquake), the depth of the earthquake, the frequency of the ground motion, the kind of faulting and the soil and rock type of an area (Natural Resources Canada, 2009).

* Acknowledgement: This information above is sourced from the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment, Province of Ontario, Emergency Management Ontario, 25 January 2012.

 

Richter Magnitudes and Earthquake Effects, The Richter Scale and Property Damage.
Magnitude Earthquake Impact
< 2.0 Not felt.
2.0 - 2.9 Not felt by people, but recorded by seismographs.
3.0 - 3.9 Usually felt by humans, but rarely causes damage.
4.0 - 4.9 Noticeable visible shaking of indoor items such as windows, hanging objects, etc; rattling noises.
5.0 - 5.9 Poorly constructed buildings may be severely damaged.  At most slight damage to well designed buildings.  Dishes may fall and break; plaster and bricks may crack and fall.
6.0 - 6.9 Can cause damage in areas up to about 160 kilometers across in populated areas.  Chimneys collapse, houses moved from their foundations.
7.0 - 7.9 Can cause severe damage over greater distances.  Buildings collapses, bridges twist.
8.0 - 8.9 Can cause serious damage in areas several hundred miles across.  Objects thrown into the air.
9.0 - 9.9+ Devastating in areas several thousand miles across.


Black and white photo of earthquake damage at Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School

 

Cyber Attacks

Definition

‘A criminal offence involving a computer as the object of the crime, or the tool used to commit a material component of the offence’ (Canadian Police College, 2010).

Description

Cyber attacks are a fairly new hazard. As society’s dependence on technology and computer systems have increased, so have the risk of cyber attacks. Computer technology is used for a variety of important functions, from functions in water treatment plants to business transactions to the energy supply grid.

Cyber attacks can be divided into two very general categories depending on how computers, networks and programs are used:

  1. The computer as the tool of the crime
  2. The computer as the object of the crime

The first category includes traditional crimes, such as fraud, which have been adapted to use computer technology. The second category contains emerging crimes, such as the spreading of computer viruses.

Some examples of cyber attacks are:

  • Hacking or the unauthorized use of computer systems and networks (including critical infrastructure)
  • Computer viruses and spy ware
  • Using a computer to steal information
  • Fraud (including identity theft and stealing banking information)
  • Harassment
  • Defacing, altering or removing websites
  • Obtaining sensitive documents

Cyber attacks have become an increasing national and international concern. While data on the number of events that occur annually is not available and many attacks are not reported, it is believed that they are increasing. Attacks may not be reported because the victim may be unaware that they were targeted, the information taken was of a sensitive nature, many law enforcement agencies around the world are not yet set up to handle cyber attacks and other reasons. Cyber attacks can be committed by individuals, groups, organizations and even governments.

One of the major difficulties in preventing and prosecuting the people behind cyber attacks is that due to the proliferation of the internet and computer technology knowledge, the internet can now be access in more than 200 countries. A person can commit a cyber attack targeting computers, networks and systems internationally from a single location, almost any location that has telephone service. Identifying the person or persons responsible can also be extremely difficult since the attack can be routed through many different countries and it is not difficult for them to use false identities.

* Acknowledgement: This information above is sourced from the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment, Province of Ontario, Emergency Management Ontario, 25 January 2012.

 

Floods

DefinitionPolice Officer standing in Floodwaters during the Cambridge 1974 Floods.

‘An overflow or inundation of water from a river or other body of water which causes or threatens loss of life and property and environmental damage’ (Ministry of Natural Resources, 2010).

 

Description

Rivers, lakes and other bodies of water provide many benefits to nearby communities. They can provide a community with a supply of water for human, agricultural and industrial consumption, transportation routes for shipping and encourage recreational activities. Floodplains, which are generated by the natural fluctuations of a water body, provide fairly flat land which appears at first glance to be ideal for construction and a naturally fertile soil which is beneficial for agriculture. Because of these benefits and additionally because of the aesthetic appeal of being close to water, most of the world’s population centres are located next to a source of water, many of which have a history of flooding.

Despite the benefits to communities, water bodies are also a source of risk. Flooding is a natural part of the water cycle which is usually caused by extreme meteorological and hydrological conditions, although human activities can contribute to flooding, generally by accentuating flood peaks in part by altering drainage patterns. Floods have been identified by the Government of Canada (2010) as being the most frequent natural hazard in Canada.

Flooding can be caused by:

  • Extreme precipitation – provides a sudden, high volume input of water
  • Snow melt – can provide a sudden, high volume input of water, especially during warmer temperatures
  • Ice break-up – can release a significant amount of water and ice
  • High winds – can result in a storm surge
  • Soil moisture conditions – if the soil is already saturated, a greater percentage of precipitation will be available as runoff
  • Ice jams – can act as a natural dam, allow large volumes of water and ice to build up until the jam breaks
  • Wind chill – produces frazil ice
  • Natural dams – beaver dams or earthen berms give way
  • Structural failure

Cars and buildings flooded during heavy rain storm.The conditions leading to a flood begin with an influx of an amount of water into a river or stream. As the volume of water increases, the depth, width and speed of the river or stream increases. If enough water is added, then the stream channel which normally confines the water is overwhelmed and the water overtops the banks and moves into low-lying areas surrounding the stream. These areas, which are not underwater except during periods of flooding, are referred to as floodplains. As some of the water moves over the floodplains its' velocity begins to decrease which results in the deposition of sediment carried by the water. Overtime the sediment buildings up creating a natural levee which increases in height with each subsequent flood. While a floodplain may appear to be an ideal location for human habitation, with fairly level ground and fertile soil, it is an indicator that future flood events are likely to occur in that area.

The Ministry of Natural Resources has three warning levels for floods:

  • Flood Safety and Watershed Conditions Bulletin: unsafe lake, river and channel conditions exist.
  • Flood Advisory: potential for flooding exists within specific watercourses and municipalities.
  • Flood Warning: flooding is imminent or occurring within specific watercourses and municipalities.

There are several different types of floods:

  • Riverine: A flood due to the increase of the water level beyond the capacity of a natural or somewhat natural floodplain.
  • Urban: A flood can be considered an urban flood if it results in the widespread flooding of an urban area. It is caused by water exceeding the capacity of the urban watershed. It is differentiated from riverine floods since the social, property and business/financial impacts are potentially much greater.
  • Storm Surge: Storm surge is defined as “an abnormal, sudden rise of sea (or lake) level associated with a storm event”.
  • Seiche: A period of oscillation of an enclosed body of water that may result in large waves.

The severity of damage caused by a flood depends on the depth, the amount of property and infrastructure, flow velocity, duration, contamination, sediment load and the population vulnerability. The World Meteorological Organization and the Global Water Partnership (2008) have identified three categories of tangible flood property damage:

  • Primary: damage to property, infrastructure, agriculture and belongings.
  • Secondary: damaged caused by fire or electricity outage triggered by the flooding.
  • Tertiary: the increase rate of property deterioration over time.

Improvements in flood prevention, mitigation, warning and response systems and procedures have greatly decreased the potential loss of life from flooding in developed countries. However, floods still have the potential to cause significant property and economic damage and some require evacuations. After the floodwaters have subsided, exposure to objects contaminated by substances (e.g. sewage, chemicals) carried by the water and mould can led to health complications (Government of Canada, 2010).

Flooding can also negatively affect utilities and critical infrastructure. Utilities such as wastewater treatment, electricity and gas may be disrupted in the event of a flood. Emergency ground vehicles may be unable to respond if roads and bridges are flooded, washed out or covered by debris.

* Acknowledgement: This information above is sourced from the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment, Province of Ontario, Emergency Management Ontario, 25 January 2012.

Explosion or Large Fire

Cornwall Cotton Mills Fire showing mulitple buildings on fire, smoke and work to extinguish the fireExplosion: The sudden conversion of potential energy into kinetic energy resulting in a sudden, violent release of gas/es under pressure.

Fire: Uncontrolled and/or potentially destructive burning caused by the ignition of a fuel or material, combined with oxygen, which gives off heat and light, with or without an open flame.

 

Description

Fires and explosions require three elements in order to propagate, a fuel source (e.g. bedding, wood), oxygen and a source of ignition. Sources of ignition include: heat, static, electricity and chemical reactions. The persistent and spread of a fire, and the strength and size of an explosion depends on:

  • The type of fuel source
  • The amount of fuel source
  • The source, type and location of initial ignition
  • The size and layout of the building/surroundings
  • Air turbulence caused by the interaction of fire and/or burning gases with obstacles
  • The type of vents and their locations
  • Additional fuel sources
  • The presence of prevention and mitigation systems.

Explosions and fires can occur outdoors or within structures such as houses. This section includes fires that occur in relatively populated areas. For more information on forest/wildland fires, please refer to that section. The most common type of fire is outdoor fires. However, structure fires are responsible for the majority of fatalities, injuries and property loss. Structure fires can have one of several causes including: heating/cooling, cooking, cigarette/lighters, faulty wiring and electricity and arson. Different types of buildings are more likely to experience fires resulting from different causes. Fires in rural areas are often caused by heating since fireplaces and woodstoves are more common in these areas. Fires in urban areas, especially in apartment buildings are more commonly caused by cooking accidents. The reason for the decrease in the prevalence of heating fires in urban areas is that more buildings (in particular apartment buildings) use central heating which is less of a fire risk. Communities with a population of greater than 100,000 tend to experience more fires related to arson.

* Acknowledgement: This information above is sourced from the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment, Province of Ontario, Emergency Management Ontario, 25 January 2012.

 

Freezing Rain

DefinitionParamedics moving through streets damaged by Freezing Rain. January 1998

‘Rain or drizzle, which falls in liquid form and then freezes upon contact with the ground or a cold object, forming a coating of ice’ (Environment Canada, 2010).

 

Description

Winter weather includes a variety of different types of precipitation including snow, rain and freezing rain. The type of precipitation depends primarily on the distribution of temperature with height in the lower atmosphere and at the earth’s surface. In order for freezing rain to form, there must be a layer of air with temperatures above-freezing over a layer of air near and at the surface with below-freezing temperatures. When the air temperature above the warmer air is below-freezing snow crystals begin to grow into snowflakes. Freezing rain will form if snow falls into a warmer layer of above-freezing air that is deep enough for the snow to melt and then passes through a below-freezing layer of air near and at the surface. The depth of the below-freezing layer is important in determining whether freezing rain or ice pellets will form. If the below-freezing layer is too deep (greater than 500-1000 metres), the droplets may freeze again and reach the ground as ice pellets. Repair crews working to repair damage caused by Freezing Rain.If the below-freezing layer is shallower than 500-1000 metres, the droplets will cool to a temperature that is only a few tenths of a degree below freezing. These droplets are super cooled and will remain as a liquid. These will freeze on contact with the ground or cold objects near the ground, such as roads, trees, and power or telephone wires. In some instances, freezing rain may form by a different mechanism in which the droplets originate as liquid water rather than snow or ice and there is no layer of above-freezing temperatures to pass through.

* Acknowledgement: This information above is sourced from the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment, Province of Ontario, Emergency Management Ontario, 25 January 2012.

Transporation Emergency

Definition

A crash, collision or incident, of large scale, involving an air, land (road), rail or marine mode of transportation that excludes hazardous materials incidents.

 

Description

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada investigates and records transportation accidents ‘that have a reasonable potential to result in safety action or that generate a high degree of concern over transportation safety. Investigation of recreational boating, inter-provincial trucking, bus, and industrial accidents is outside the scope of the TSB’s mandate’.

 

Air

Transportation emergencies involving aircraft may arise from the circumstances below:

  • An aircraft colliding with another aircraft in the air.
  • An aircraft crashing or being in imminent danger due to mechanical problems, or human error.
  • An aircraft crashing while in the takeoff, cruising or landing phases of a flight.
  • An aircraft colliding with an object on the ground or at any stage during the flight.
  • Two or more aircraft colliding on the ground during staging or taxi operations.

A transportation emergency involving aircraft may result in secondary hazards such as fires and explosions. If a structure is impacted, it may result in building/structural collapse.

An average of 262 accidents involving Canadian registered aircraft (excluding ultra lights) occurs in Canada every year occurring to Transport Canada. Aircraft accidents result in approximately 49 fatalities a year in Canada (Transport Canada, 2009).

 

Marine

Transportation emergencies involving marine vehicles may arise from the circumstances below:

The main types of marine accidents include:

  • A collision with another marine vehicle or object
  • The marine vehicle capsizing, floundering, sinking.
  • A marine vehicle encounters severe weather which causes damage or flooding.
  • A fire and/or explosion aboard the marine vehicle.
  • The marine vehicle striking land, ice or rocks and becoming damaged or grounded.
  • A marine vehicle suffers structural damage that compromises its safety.
  • The flooding of a marine vehicle.
    Aerial photo of train derailment in winter with heavy smoke
  • Marine emergencies have become less frequent in recent years due to advancements in weather forecasting, technology and safety. Transport Canada (2009) reports that an average of 390 marine accidents occur annually with an average of 21 fatalities.

 

Rail

Transportation emergencies involving railways may arise from the circumstances below:

  • A train derails for any reason.
  • A train collides with another train or another object.
  • Track related - track buckle, broken rail and track geometry problems;
  • Equipment related - broken wheels, bearing and axel failures, and component failures.
  • Train operations related - operating violations, technological and human error.

Transport Canada (2009) reports that an average of 1300 reported rail accidents per year with an average of 91 fatalities annually.

 

Road

Transportation emergencies involving road transportation may arise from the circumstances below:

  • Crashes involving objects
  • Crashes involving other motor vehicles
  • Poor road conditions
  • Human and technological error
  • Driver impairmentTruck accident on Hwy401 and Boundary Road in Cornwall.

Thousands of small-scale road accidents occur annually, although, large-scale road transportation emergencies are uncommon. Few are severe enough that they exceed the local emergency response capacity and require provincial assistance.

* Acknowledgement: This information above is sourced from the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment, Province of Ontario, Emergency Management Ontario, 25 January 2012.

Other Potential Hazards of Concern in Cornwall

 

Human Health Emergency

 

ddHuman Health Emergency: ‘A widespread and/or severe epidemic, incident of contamination or other situation that presents a danger to, or otherwise negatively impacts, the general health and well being of the human population’.

Epidemic: Major incidents of human illness caused by the transmission of a specific disease. The occurrence, in a community or region, of cases of an illness (or an outbreak), with a frequency clearly in excess of normal.

Pandemic: An epidemic occurring worldwide or over a very wide area, crossing boundaries of several countries, and usually affecting a large number of people.

Description

Human health emergencies can arise from different origins. Some of these include:

  • Virus
  • Bacteria
  • Parasites
  • Fungi
  • Prions
  • Protozoa

Viruses, bacterium, parasites, fungi and protozoa are vital members of the ecosystem. The vast majority of them are harmless or even beneficial to human health. However, a small minority are dangerous to humans. When one of these species has been transmitted to a human host, it may cause illness or even death. The severity of the symptoms depends on factors such as the source of the illness and the health and age of the host.

There are several ways in which a human health emergency can be introduced and spread throughout a community:

Direct contact: a person can become infected through close physical contact (e.g. kissing, touching) a person who is already infected.

Indirect contact: a person can become infected by coming into contact with a surface that has been contaminated.

Droplet contact: a person can become infected from exposure to droplets that have touched the surfaces of the eyes, mouth or nose of an infected person. Sneezing and coughing are two methods in which this type of illness can be spread. This differs from airborne transmission since the droplets are too large to remain in the air for long periods.

Airborne transmission: a person can become infected from exposure to droplet nuclei and contaminated dust particles which are capable of staying airborne. Few diseases are capable of surviving airborne transmission (e.g. influenza, pneumonia).

Vector-borne transmission: a person can become infected through contact with an infected animal or insect. Mosquitoes are the most common vector for disease in humans.

 

Burial ceremony during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.A human health emergency can be caused by a known agent of disease or an unknown one. Some diseases are reoccurring; they reappear in the human population after a period in which they may only be found in animal hosts. A new disease may arise from a previous unknown agent or result from the evolution of a previously known one. There are many factors that can cause a human health emergency, such as, the evolution of micro-organisms (including antibiotic resistant strains), the alteration of natural habitats, the increase frequency and the decreasing duration of global travel. Depending on the cause of the emergency, it may be isolated or local or (as in the case of a pandemic) it could be global in scale.

* Acknowledgement: This information above is sourced from the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment, Province of Ontario, Emergency Management Ontario, 25 January 2012.

Snowstorm or Blizzard
 

Snowstorm: “A period of rapid accumulation of snow, often accompanied by high winds, cold temperatures, and low visibilities.” (Government of Michigan, 2001).

Blizzard: “The most violent winter storm, combining strong winds with cold temperatures and blowing or drifting snow, which reduces visibility to zero.” (Phillips, 1991)

Description

Snowstorms and blizzards generally occur during the winter but have been known to occur in the late fall and early spring in temperate climates. They are storm events in which the dominant form of precipitation is snow. At temperatures below freezing the density of snow is less dense than the density of liquid water. As a result, a storm that would have produced 2 cm of rain during the summer has the potential to produce 20 cm of snow during the winter, although there can be large variations depending on factors such as the type of snow (e.g. light, fluffy snow or wet, heavy snow).

Environment Canada Ontario can issue several different warnings for snow-related events (Environment Canada, 2009):

Heavy Snow Warning: 15cm or more of snow is expected to fall within 12 hours.

Winter Storm Warning: greater than 25cm of snow is expected to fall within twenty four hours or forecasters expect 2 or more of the weather conditions listed as potential warnings to occur. For instance, if more than 15cm of snow was expected to be accompanied by strong winds of more than 60km/h.

Snow Squall Warning: issued for areas to the lee (the sheltered side, the side away from the wind) of large bodies of water when 15cm of snow or more is likely to fall in 12 hours or less OR when the visibility is likely to be near zero in snow and blowing snow for four hours or more, even without warning levels of snowfall accumulation. These conditions usually are short in duration, however, some can be prolonged and if they occur in the same location, they can result in higher snowfall amounts.

Blizzard Warning: issued when all of the following conditions are expected to occur and last for four or more hours;

  • Winds of 50km/h or more
  • Visibility of 1km or less in snow and blowing snow.
  • Wind chill values of –35 or lower

Unlike severe summer storms, severe winter storms are normally forecast well in advance. Winter storm warnings issued more than twelve hours before impact are not uncommon.

* Acknowledgement: This information above is sourced from the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment, Province of Ontario, Emergency Management Ontario, 25 January 2012.

Civil Disorder

Definition

A group or groups of people intentionally not observing a law, regulation or rule in order to disrupt a business, organization or community to bring attention to their cause, concern or agenda.

Description

Large scale civil disorder emergencies are rare. Some of their potential causes include:

  • Resource shortages.
  • High profile/controversial meetings.
  • A victory or defeat of a sports team.
  • Hostile labour disputes.
  • Local, national or international events.
  • The implementation of controversial laws polices or court rulings.
  • Disagreements between special interest groups over a particular issue or cause.

Civil disorder can take many forms including:

  • Small or large groups that cause the disruption of normal public services and activities.
  • Groups that intentionally block or impede access to buildings, roads or other sites.
  • Assaults on public figures, police or security personnel.
  • A riot in which property is destroyed and the public threatened.

Closure of the International Bridge in Cornwall due to protests in May 2010A group warranting concerns of civil disorder are generally made up of three categories of people: non-violent spectators/participants, onlookers and a small but active, potentially violent subgroup. The number of people in the potentially violent subgroup is significantly less than those in the broader group. While very few people in a crowd usually intend from the outset to participate in violent activities, violent tendencies can spread throughout the group through a psychological phenomenon called ‘crowd personality’. Collective groups of people can accentuate emotions ranging from happiness to anger in individuals within the crowd. It is possible for this crowd personality to be manipulated and influenced by a small number of people with the intent to incite violence.

Civil disorder can be static or dynamic. A civil disorder can be considered to static if the group of people involved stays within a particular area. In this case, some public safety measures can be taken, such as designating first aid facilities, rerouting transportation routes and planning evacuation routes. A dynamic civil disorder is one in which the group may move locations on either a predictable or unpredictable route. If the route is not predictable, then it may not be possible to activate certain public safety measures.

The number of groups involved in the protest and their relationships to each other can also be significant. Some acts of civil disorder involve only one group. Others may involve two or more groups with a hostile relationship. An additional group is added if the police are required to intervene to separate the groups.

* Acknowledgement: This information above is sourced from the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment, Province of Ontario, Emergency Management Ontario, 25 January 2012.

Energy Supply Emergency

Definition

The disruption of the supply, production and transportation of electricity, natural gas, and/or oil severe enough to threaten public safety, business and the economy. If an energy supply emergency progresses to the point that there is a complete lack of electricity, natural gas, or oil then it may become a critical infrastructure failure emergency.

Description

Effect of 2003 Blackout affecting Ontario, Northern New York and other areas.An energy supply emergency refers to a disruption in the supply, refinement or transportation of electricity, natural gas, or oil. Many energy supply systems are interconnected or rely on the same delivery systems. Damage to the energy supply chain in one region may adversely affect energy supplies in other regions. The cause and/or effects of an energy emergency can occur at many different levels, be they local, national or international. Some energy supply emergencies may be foreseeable, while others may be sudden. The length of the energy supply emergency depends on the cause of the emergency and the area affected.

It is not possible to predict every possible cause of an energy emergency, especially since many factors and events on a global scale may influence it (California Energy Commission, 2006).

Some of the factors that have caused or contributed to energy emergencies in the past include:

  • The disruption of transportation routes or vehicles.
  • Constraints in production and refining capacity which increase the potential of supply not meeting demand.
  • Uncertain climates (both political and natural) in some producer countries may hinder the exploration and development of resources.
  • Geopolitical tensions and terrorism result in uncertainty as to the future availability of supply.
  • Natural hazards can disrupt the supply or cause demand to increase
  • Human error
  • Technological failure
  • Hoarding of fuel

There are many processes and facilities that if disrupted could result in an energy supply emergency. These include:

  • Oil and Natural Gas Fields: extraction of the fuel is reliant on computer, pumping and compressor systems, purification equipment and processes, storage and blending systems, oil-water separators and water treatment facilities.
  • Pipelines: the transportation of gas or oil through a pipeline will be halted if the structural integrity of the pipeline is compromised or destroyed. Although solid fuels such as coal and liquid fuels such as crude oil can be transported by trains, barges or trucks, there are almost no other methods of transportation other than pipelines for gases.
  • Terminals and Storage Facilities: computer, storage and loading systems are used to track and handle exportation of the fuel. Very few countries keep a significant reserve of fuels, so the loss of even one terminal or storage facility can have a serious impact on the market.
  • Refineries: are reliant on technology in order to refine feedstock, such as crude oil, into the final product. There are only 20 large refineries (with capacities of ≥400,000 bbl/d of crude oil) in the world. These are located in 12 countries. Seven of these countries are considered to be politically unstable or have experienced a high number of terrorist incidents.  An additional four large refineries are located in the United States and are currently operating at greater than 90% of their capacities. If production at even one of the U.S. refineries was disrupted, it would result in serious energy supply problems throughout North America In a tight supply situation the loss of a refinery can result in a serious product shortage. Alternative supplies will be available, although at high cost. The situation can be aggravated if the energy supply emergency occurs in the winter and the option of bringing product into Ontario via the St. Lawrence Seaway is cut off due to the freezing of the Seaway, as it was during the 2007 Nanticoke outage. If Ontario is not in a tight supply situation, then alternative supplies are available from a large number of refineries).
  • Electricity: generation, transmission and/or distribution failures; loss of SCADA systems due to hostile cyber intrusions and technology failures in connected sectors e.g. telecommunications.

The predominant impact of an energy supply emergency is on the economy (International Energy Agency, 2007). If the energy supply is not sufficient to meet demand, then energy prices will rise (California Energy Commission, 2006). While negative economic impacts are likely to be the most common impact, an energy emergency could also result in transportation and communication disruptions which could put public safety and other services at risk. The climate of the area affected and the time of year can also increase the risk of public safety impacts since electricity and natural gas are used for heating and cooling.

* Acknowledgement: This information above is sourced from the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment, Province of Ontario, Emergency Management Ontario, 25 January 2012.

Critical Infrastructure Failure

DefinitionCritical Infrastructure with food and water

The disruption of any of the interdependent, interactive, interconnected networks of institutions, services, systems and processes that meet vital human needs, sustain the economy, protect public safety and security and maintain continuity of and confidence in government.

Description

Infrastructures may be deemed to be critical if their failure or disruption may jeopardize the safety, security, and quality of life of the community or region affected.

Image of cell phone and communication equipment

Critical infrastructure includes:

  • Electricity
  • Water treatment and distribution
  • Sewage treatment and disposal
  • Communications systems
  • Food production and distribution
  • Transportation services
  • Emergency Services
  • Healthcare

In the complex, ‘just-in-time’ society of modern North America, people are extremely dependent on public and private infrastructure. Many essential goods and services are reliant on critical infrastructure and even a short down time can be disruptive. For example, most grocery stores do not keep a large supply of food to restock the shelves. Nowadays, they rely on ‘just-in-time’ deliveries in order to restock. If the delivery service was disrupted, stores would quickly run out of stock and be unable to supply food to the community.

Critical Infrastructure. Image of Gas pump and barrels of oil.

Critical infrastructure may be independent, yet many are interdependent and require another form of critical infrastructure to function. When one system is disrupted, it can result in a cascading effect across other systems. For example, a power outage will affect transportation by disrupting traffic lights, a disruption to refrigeration which would affect food services and can halt water and sewage treatment.

* Acknowledgement: This information above is sourced from the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment, Province of Ontario, Emergency Management Ontario, 25 January 2012.

Tornado

Definition

A violently rotating column of air, in contact with the ground, either pendant from a cumuliform cloud or underneath a cumuliform cloud, or often (but not always) visible as a funnel cloud.

Description

Image from Barrie Tornadoe showing damage to houses in 1985Special atmospheric conditions are required for the formation of a tornado. The atmospheric conditions required vary slightly depending on the type of tornado, but essentially all tornadoes require low-level moisture, atmospheric instability and a lifting mechanism. These conditions can be met when a cool air mass from the north collides with warm, moist air from the south, forcing the warm air to rise quickly. As the warm, moist air rises, the water vapour in it begins to cool and condense. If the conditions are right, severe weather will form possibly including severe thunderstorms and/or tornadoes. Tornadoes can also be formed from thunderstorms embedded within hurricanes. The next step, the formation of the tornado itself, is still not fully understood. It is an area of current research.

Tornadoes can be classified into one of two categories, depending on the type of storm that generates them: supercell tornadoes and non-supercell tornadoes. A supercell is a highly organized storm that can last for longer than one hour. Its defining characteristics include an intense updraft co-located with strong storm rotation in the vertical. However, a strong rotating updraft is not the only requirement for tornado formation since as many as 80% of all supercell thunderstorms do not produce a tornado and tornadoes can develop in non-supercell storms.

Non-supercell storms do not have the organized rotation of a supercell storm but can still produce tornadoes.  According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory (2010), non-supercell tornadoes often begin as vertically spinning air near the ground caused by local windshear. The windshear can develop along boundaries between different regional air masses. When an updraft moves over the spinning parcel of air, it stretches the rotation vertically and intensifies it. This can result in a tornado.

Supercell tornadoes typically have a longer lifetime and have the potential to be violent. Non-supercell tornadoes, which include waterspouts, are generally weaker and shorter-lived than supercell tornadoes, but there have been exceptions to this in the past.

Image of Tornadoe, cloud cover and funnel cloudA simplified life cycle of a supercell tornado would begin with a funnel cloud forming at the base of a thunderstorm. Damage is then observed at the surface, even if the funnel cloud itself is not fully visible. The width of the tornado increases to its maximum size as it matures. At some point after this, the tornado begins to decrease in size that often results in a characteristic rope-like appearance. Even after the funnel cloud is no longer visible, a debris cloud and damage at the surface may still continue for a few seconds.

However, tornadoes are dynamic hazards that may differ in how they are generated and the life cycle stages may not be clearly identifiable for all tornadoes. They can last for a few minutes or a few hours. It should also be noted that the appearance of the tornado does not indicate intensity. Some very large wedge shaped tornadoes have caused only slight damage while some small tornadoes have caused severe damage. While most tornadoes are much smaller, some, such as the Greensburg Kansas Tornado have been up to 2.7 km wide. Powerful storms can form multiple tornadoes or a multi-vortex tornado which is a single tornado with a number of smaller vortices within it (Environment Canada, 2010).

The high wind speeds and debris carried by the wind of the tornado are responsible for damage. The intensity of a tornado is commonly assessed using the Fujita Scale (Fujita, 1981). The Fujita Scale uses damage to tornado intensity.

 * Acknowledgement: This information above is sourced from the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment, Province of Ontario, Emergency Management Ontario, 25 January 2012.

 

The Fujita Scale of Tornado Intensity

Fujita Tornado Scale Description
0

Wind Speed 64 to 116 km/hour

Minor:  May peel surface off of roofs; braches broken; shallow rooted trees pushed over.

1

Wind Speed 117 to 180 km/hour

Moderate:  Broken windows, mobile homes pushed over or significantly damaged; most of the surface roofs peeled off, exterior doors gone.

2

Wind Speed 181 to 252 km/hour

Considerable:  Large trees snapped or uprooted, roofs torn off well built homes, frame homes may have their foundations shifted, light missiles generated.

3

Wind Speed 253 to 330 km/hour

Severe:  Extensive damage to large buildings; cars thrown through air; all stories of well constructed homes may be damaged; trees debarked; building with weak foundations may be moved a considerable distance.

4

Wind Speed 331 to 417 Km/hour

Devastating:  Well constructed homes completely levelled; cars thrown; small missiles.

5

Wind Speed 418 to 509 km/hour

Extreme:  Strong, well constructed houses removed from foundations and completely distroyed; stell reinforced concrete structures are badly damaged; car sized missiles thrown over 300 feet; high rise buildings experience significant structural deformation.

Extreme Temperature

 

Heat Wave: “Environment Canada (1996) provides a…definition of a heat wave as a period of more than three consecutive days of maximum temperatures at or above 32 °C. However, adverse heat impacts on humans have been noted at less extreme temperatures and shorter duration”.

Cold Wave: “Environment Canada issues Cold Wave Warnings for Ontario based upon temperature thresholds that vary by geographic location. The warnings are issued when temperatures are expected to fall within 24 hours from above normal or seasonal temperatures to very cold temperatures. The warnings are issued in South central and south-western Ontario, when minimum temperatures are expected to fall to -20°C or less with maximum temperatures not expected to rise above -10°C. For the rest of Ontario, they are issued when minimum temperatures are expected to fall to -30°C or less with maximum temperatures not expected to rise above -20°C (Environment Canada, 2005).

Description

Heat waves and cold waves are caused by the variability of surface meteorological variables, including air temperature and extreme temperature events, is primarily governed by atmospheric circulation. The impacts of heat and cold waves depend on how adapted communities are to extreme temperatures. Several other factors that affect the impact of heat and cold waves are: the frequency of occurrence, their severity and how long they last.

For heat waves, humidity and the nightly minimum temperatures can also influence the severity of impact. Heat waves are often accompanied by high humidity. This can make the temperature feel hotter than it actually is and since it results in a decreased ability for the human body to cool itself, it can led to an increase in human health problems. The nightly minimum temperatures during a heat wave can influence the impact as well. Since temperatures cool over night, this can provide relief from the heat. If the nightly minimum temperatures remain high, this can result in a greater impact.

Secondary Hazard - Poor Air Quality

Air contains a number of different pollutants which vary in concentration depending on the location. Some of these pollutants, in particular, what is referred to as ‘smog’ (ground-level ozone) is created when some of these pollutants undergo a complex set of photochemical reactions in the presence of sunlight. Conditions that increase the amount of smog include: large volumes of traffic, sunshine, calm winds and high temperatures. Temperature controls the length of time it takes for smog to form. Therefore, the higher the temperature, the faster the smog can form. Large volumes of traffic emit the chemicals needed to produce smog. Calm winds can prevent the smog from dispersing.

Since heat waves are periods with high temperatures that are often associated with sunny skies and calm winds, air quality can be much poorer than area during a heat wave. Poor air quality can cause or contribute to health problems in people and animals harm the environment and decrease visibility.

The impacts of a cold wave can be increased with the presence of a high wind-chill value. Wind-chill, which worsens the health impacts of a cold wave by increasing the rate of heat loss, is defined by Environment Canada as “how the combined effect of wind and temperature would feel on your face if you were walking at a normal pace (4.8 km/h)”. Cold waves can occur for long periods of time compared with heat waves.

* Acknowledgement: This information above is sourced from the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment, Province of Ontario, Emergency Management Ontario, 25 January 2012.

Oil or Natural Gas Emergency

Definition

An event that poses a threat to public safety, property, the environment, critical infrastructure or the economy from the uncontrolled release of oil and/or natural gas from: 1) a pipeline; 2) oil/natural gas wells; 3) storage facilities and/or distribution systems.

Description

Oil and natural gas are natural resources that were produced from the carbon and hydrogen molecules of decayed organic matter. Decayed organic matter built up in layers over millions of years within geological formations. Over time, heat, pressure and anaerobic bacteria altered the organic matter into oil and gas. Oil and natural gas can be found in many different geologic formations (Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), 2010). They can be retrieved by drilling wells to the deposit.

Oil and natural gas have many uses:

  • Oil – gasoline, diesel fuel, synthetic rubber and fibres, plastic, pesticides
  • Natural gas – heating, plastics, fertilizers

Natural Gas

The term ‘natural gas’ refers to primarily methane and other gas types such as ethane, propane, butane, pentanes and heavier hydrocarbons. It does not naturally have an odour, so the odorant, mercaptan is added in order to give it a distinct smell. This can help to minimize the risk of a natural gas emergency since it can be detected easier. This is usually done during processing.

Some of the hazards associated with natural gas are:

  • Asphyxiation – natural gas is lighter than air. If it is released in a large, open area, it will dissipate and not pose a threat to human health. However, if it is released in an enclosed space, it may displace air. Even though it is non-toxic, a person can be asphyxiated from the lack of air.
  • Ignition – natural gas can ignite if it is presence in small concentrations. If the concentration of natural gas is too high, it is unable to ignite since fire and/or explosions require oxygen. Ignition can occur due to a number of sources, such as matches, electricity and pilot lights. The ignition point of natural is between 593°C and 649°C (Transport Canada, 2008). Natural gas burns at very high temperature and as a result, produces a high radiant heat which can ignite other materials nearby.
  • Explosion – if natural gas is present in small concentrations and in an enclosed space with a source of ignition, it may result in an explosion. In addition, natural gas may result in a special type of explosion referred to as ‘Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapour Explosion’. This can occur if a container holding pressurized liquid natural gas is ruptured.
  • Hydrogen Sulphide – hydrogen sulphide may exist as an impurity within reservoirs of natural gas. Natural gas containing high levels of hydrogen sulphide is referred to as ‘sour gas’. Hydrogen sulphide is very toxic to humans.

Oil

Oil or liquid petroleum is made up of a mixture of liquid hydrocarbons. The viscosity of oil can range from being as thin as water to as thick as tar. It is referred to as ‘crude oil’ if it has not been refined.

Crude oil can be divided into four types:

  • Class A: Light, Volatile Oils – These are highly fluid and very toxic to humans. Examples of this type of oil are gasoline and jet fuel.
  • Class B: Non-Sticky Oils – These are waxy and are less toxic to humans. Examples of this type of oil are light crude oil and diesel fuel.
  • Class C: Heavy, Sticky Oils – These are dark in colour (brown or black) and are sticky or tarry. These are not considered to be very toxic but can severely impact wildlife. Examples of this type of oil are the majority of crude oils.
  • Class D: Non-Fluid Oils – These are non-toxic but can severely impact wildlife. Examples of this type of oil are heavy crude oils.

Some of the hazards associated with oil are:

  • Spills – spilled oil can be extremely difficult to clean up. It can contaminate land and enter waterways. It can have severe impacts on wildlife and natural ecosystems.
  • Fire – oil fires in oil wells, pipeline or storage facilities can be extremely difficult to extinguish due to the abundance of fuel. The smoke produced by these fires may contain many chemicals and particulates that are harmful to human health if proper safety precautions are not taken.

Oil/natural gas emergencies can be divided into three groups depending on at what stage in the extraction/production/transport process the emergency occurs:

  1. Oil/Natural Gas Wells
  2. Pipelines
  3. Storage/Distribution Systems
Oil/Natural Gas Wells

Oil and natural gas wells may pose a threat to public safety whether they are in operation or abandoned. Operating wells can pose a threat if they are not operated or maintained properly and abandoned wells may pose a threat if they were not properly capped or if activities, such as construction occur in the immediate vicinity of an unknown well.

Some of the hazards associated with oil and natural gas wells are:

• Loss of well control (due to human error or equipment malfunction)

• Fire - fires in wells can be extremely difficult to extinguish due to the abundance of fuel. The smoke produced by these fires may contain many chemicals and particulates that are harmful to human health if proper safety precautions are not taken.

• Spills – oil or natural gas may be released into the surrounding environment. Natural gas dissipates in open areas.

• Release of hydrogen sulphide (sour gas) – hydrogen sulphide is toxic to humans and other forms of life.

 

Pipelines

Pipelines can be grouped into four categories:

• Gathering Lines

     o Transport raw oil and gas from wells to processing plants and transmission facilities.

o Transport storage gas from wells to compressor stations.

• Trunk Lines

     o Transport crude oil, natural gas liquids and refined petroleum products to refineries, petrochemical plants, consumer areas.

• Gas Transmission Systems

     o Transport natural gas at a high pressure to consumer areas.

• Local Distribution

     o Companies deliver natural gas at low pressures to consumers.

Hazards associated with pipelines include:

  • Release of oil/gas – The rupture of a pipeline can result in the release of its contents which may be under high pressure. Oil spills can result in significant damage to the environment and are difficult to clean. If an underground pipeline transporting natural gas is ruptured, frost or paved surface may result in the gas following utility ditches or conduits into buildings (Transport Canada, 2008).
  • Blast Effects – The pressure of the contents at the time of the pipeline rupture can result in projectiles (often pieces of the pipeline itself) being thrown into the air at high speeds.
  • Fire and Explosion –In the vast majority of pipeline accidents, ignition has not occurred.
  • Noise – The release of natural gas under high pressures is very loud and can result in hearing loss and disorientation in people close to the ruptured section of the pipeline.
Storage/Distribution Systems

Oil is stored at refineries and product terminals until it can be refined and the finished product can be distributed to consumers. A certain quantity of natural gas is stored, particularly during the warmer months, in order to meet the expected peak demand in the colder months for heating. Many facilities that store natural gas use underground storage tanks in order to minimize the risk of an explosion or a release affecting the public.

Hazards associated with storage/distribution systems include:

  • Explosion – the presence of filled storage tanks increases the risk of a strong explosion due to the amount of available fuel. Some storage sites are located close to existing large commercial and residential areas, while others that were once buffered by a more rural landscape are now being encroached upon by development. Fires that involve stored propane can result in a very powerful explosion known as boiling liquid expanding vapour explosion.
  • Spills – if the storage tanks or distribution system is ruptured or corroded.

* Acknowledgement: This information above is sourced from the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment, Province of Ontario, Emergency Management Ontario, 25 January 2012.

Evacuation Plan

Cornwall Evacuation Zones with major roads shown on mapThe City of Cornwall is divided into 10 zones.  McConnell Avenue is designated "For Emergency Vehicles Only" and must not be used for evacuation. 

Use the main arterial route from your home or workplace, and use this route for evacuation purposes.

During an emergency, you are also encouraged to listen to the local radio stations for additional information.

Emergency Management Program Information

 

About the City of Cornwall Emergency Management Program

The Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990,c.E.9 and its associated regulations and standards, requires the implementation of a mandatory emergency management program by all Ontario municipalities. The emergency management program shall consist of the following:
  • designation of a community emergency management coordinator (CEMC);
  • formation of a community emergency management program committee;
  • publication of an approved community emergency plan;
  • development of an appropriate community emergency operations centre;
  • development of an appropriate community emergency response capability;
  • conduct annual training and exercises for the emergency operations control group, employees of the municipality and other persons with respect to the provision of necessary services and the procedures to be followed in emergency response and recovery activities;
  • development and implementation of a public awareness program and education on risks to public safety and on public preparedness for emergencies;
  • identification of individuals to act as community emergency information staff;
  • conduct an annual review of the community emergency management program.

Mission and Goals

Graphic showing the pillars of emergency preparedness

The mission of the City of Cornwall office of Emergency Management is to provide the highest level of emergency preparedness to the visitors and citizens of Cornwall. Our goal is to save lives, protect property and the environment through prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery actions.

  • Prevention: Actions taken to prevent an emergency or disaster
  • Mitigation: Actions taken to reduce the effects of an emergency or disaster
  • Preparedness: Actions taken prior to an emergency or disaster to ensure an effective response. These actions include the formulation of an emergency response plan, training, exercises, and public awareness and education.
  • Response: Actions taken to respond to an emergency or disaster.
  • Recovery: Actions taken to recover from an emergency and to return the City of Cornwall or the affected area back to normal after a disaster. 

 

Municipal Emergency Control Group

TImage from an Evacuation Centre and people using emergency cots during an emergencyhe activation of the Cornwall Emergency Plan will result in the Municipal Emergency Control Group (MECG) convening in the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). The Municipal Emergency Control Group functions as a senior management decision-making and coordinating body to assess the events as they occur and to decide on a unified course of action to overcome specific problems. The MECG is responsible for maintaining operations throughout the community, and to function as a support centre for the Site Manager by arranging to provide resources and expertise as requested. The City of Cornwall MECG varies by emergency but can consists of the following officials:
  • Mayor
  • Chief Administration Officer
  • Community Emergency Management Coordinator
  • Chief of Cornwall Community Police Services
  • Chief of Cornwall Fire Services
  • Chief of Cornwall SDG Paramedic Services
  • Emergency Information Officer
  • City Clerk
  • Medical Officer of Health
  • Infrastructure and Municipal Works General Manager
  • Social and Housing Services Manager
  • Treasurer

All emergency operations will be directed and controlled by this group of officials responsible for providing the essential services needed to minimize the effects of the emergency on the municipality. While in the Emergency Operations Centre, members of the Municipal Emergency Control Group (MECG) gather at regular intervals to inform each other of actions taken and problems encountered (Operating Cycle). The Chief Administrative Officer chairs the MECG group and establishes the frequency of meetings and agenda items. City staff members and representatives of other supporting organizations may be added to or deleted from the membership of the Municipal Emergency Control Group in accordance with the nature of the emergency. For further details of Municipal Emergency Control Group responsibilities please refer to the City of Cornwall Emergency Plan. 

Emergency Management Committee

The goal of the Emergency Management Committee is to act as an advisory committee to the office of Emergency Management of the City of Cornwall guiding the development, implementation, and maintenance of the community's emergency management program. The meetings of the committee are usually held in January, April, September and November. The formation of such a committee is a key organizational step toward making the emergency management process work at the local level. The Cornwall Emergency Management Committee is chaired by the Emergency Management Coordinator and is composed of representation from the following first responders and support agencies:
  • Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES)
  • Canadian Red Cross Society
  • Cornwall City Clerk Department
  • Cornwall Community Hospital
  • Cornwall Community Police Services
  • Cornwall Electric
  • Cornwall Finance and Administration Department
  • Cornwall Fire Services
  • Cornwall Human Resources Department
  • Cornwall Municipal Works and Infrastructure
  • Cornwall Office of the Chief Administration Officer
  • Cornwall Office of the Mayor
  • Cornwall Planning, Development and Recreation Department
  • Cornwall SDG Paramedic Services
  • Cornwall Social & Housing Services
  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit
  • Elected Official Representative
  • Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management
  • Industries
  • Ontario Power Generation
  • Local School Boards
  • Salvation Army
  • St John Ambulance
  • Union Gas
  • Others

Emergency Operations Centre

The Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is the designated location where the Community Control Group convene to manage the emergency. The EOC is essential to the process of providing centralized direction and coordination of emergency response and recovery operations. The EOC is outfitted with a generator, individual secure telephone lines, radios, emergency directories, flip charts, maps and all other necessary stationary supplies. In the event that the EOC is unusable, there are two alternate Emergency Operations Centres.

Public Awareness and Education Program

The City of Cornwall has an active Emergency Management Public Awareness/Education Program directed at raising citizens' awareness about the importance of preparing before an emergency and knowing what to do during and after an incident. This program raises citizens' awareness about community emergency management activities, such as the existence of a current and annually exercised emergency response plan. This risk based program provides focused information to target audiences in order to share how to reduce one's risks of injury, death, property loss, or environmental damage, in the event of a specific emergency situation. Some methods for communicating emergency public awareness messages are:
  • brochures, kits and flyers
  • information posted on the Internet
  • public announcements by print, radio or television
  • advertising: bulletin boards, outdoor posters
  • speaking engagements : delivery of lectures to community groups, agencies, schools,
  • public events: setting up of displays at festivals, shows,
  • exercises: simulated emergency exercises / training courses
  • feature articles: newspapers, periodicals, journals

Emergency Training and Exercises

People coming out of white and red planeThe City of Cornwall has yearly training and mock exercises to evaluate our Emergency Response Plan. Our objective is to train our personnel, educate the public, test facilities and equipment and strengthen cooperation between first responders, municipal departments and city stakeholders . An evaluation by means of training and exercises is an integral part of our emergency response plan which we take seriously. It is designed to evaluate emergency processes that work and identify those needing improvement. Our yearly training is selected depending on its purpose, the level of training, our risks and the human and material resources available. Some methods utilized in the City of Cornwall are as follows:
  • Paper Exercises: starts with an opening scenario, followed by a series of inputs that are given to the players on paper. The inputs are information, inquiries or requests that one would expect to receive in a real incident. Discussions pursue between the players on the decisions made, recommendations, possible response actions and communication procedures. The players' responses to exercise events are usually very similar to those in major exercises.
  • Table-Top Exercises: similar to paper exercises but the players describe their response actions using props such as maps, models and equipment.
  • Telecommunication Exercises: uses radios and telephones to transmit information thus testing the telecommunications system.
  • Notification Exercises: The notification procedure of the Emergency Plan is activated thus testing the procedure and confirming the correct contact information is on record. Those notified may or may not be asked to assemble in the Emergency Operations Centre.
  • Mock Exercise: involves the simulation of an emergency incident at a site including the deployment of first responders, specialty teams, vehicles, equipment and possible simulated casualties. Usually the Emergency Operations Centre is also activated and a communications link is established with the site. 

Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA)

The Cornwall Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) was first adopted in March 2010 and continues to be reviewed annually, with the latest revision having been completed in December 2017. A hazard is described as an event or physical condition that has the potential to cause fatalities, injuries, property damage, infrastructure damage, agricultural loss, damage to the environment, interruption of business, or other types of harm or loss (FEMA). This assessment was completed by first reviewing the 40 major hazards facing the province as per Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management Ontario (OFMEM). OFMEM also supplied a definition and description of each hazard. From this list a historical review of hazardous occurrences in the City of Cornwall was completed. Further more expertise advice was researched concerning the possibility of some hazards occurring even though the historical occurrences were not recent. For example, although Cornwall has not had a major earthquake since September 5, 1944, seismologist research states that earthquakes remain a hazard in this area due to the fact we are on a fault line. In southern Canada, the slow movement of the North American plate southwestwards at a few centimetres per year creates sufficient stresses to cause earthquakes along faults or zones of weakness such as along the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Valleys and the Atlantic seaboard (Natural Hazards of Canada Map - OCIPEP). Once a comprehensive list of specific community hazards was created, the probability and potential consequence of each hazard was determined. Finally a community risk assessment grid was completed resulting in the prioritization of risks found in the City of Cornwall. The Cornwall Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) acts as the foundation for Cornwall's risk-based emergency management program.

Get More Information Here:

City of Cornwall Emergency Plan

City of Cornwall Human Health Emergencies/Pandemic Plan

City of Cornwall Pandemic Preparadness Presentation

City of Cornwall Pandemic Quiz

Tips for Dealing with High Winds and Severe Rainfall

Floods - What to do?

 

The City of Cornwall Office of Emergency Management

For more information, please contact:

Bradley Nuttley, Commander
Emergency Management and Community Safety Coordinator
601 Campbell Street, PO Box 877
Cornwall, ON K6H 7B7
613-930-2787 extension 2214

 

phone icon Contact Us

Bradley Nuttley
Emergency Management & Community Safety Coordinator
601 Campbell Street, Box 877, Cornwall ON, K6H 7B7
T.: 613-930-2787 ext. 2214
F.: 613-937-0245
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