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Preparing for an Emergency

Emergencies in the City of Lethbridge can happen at any time and without warning. It’s important to be prepared and know how to quickly respond to different types of emergencies so you can improve the safety of yourself and others.

Emergency and Safety News

Follow our Emergency and Safety News to get instant updates on all notices from the City on emergency events and safety information.

Municipal Emergency Management Plan

View our Municipal Emergency Management Plan, which details:

  • Activation of the Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC)
  • Public Alerting
  • Evacuation and re-entry
  • Declaration of a State of Local Emergency (SOLE)

Household Action Emergency Plan

View our Household Emergency Action Plan, which details:

  • Alberta Emergency Alert System
  • Family Emergency Plan
  • Home fire safety 
  • Types of disasters that can happen in Lethbridge
  • What you may need in a disaster
  • Who to call in an emergency
  • Where to get more information when preparing for an emergency or disaster

Extreme Temperature Response Protocol

Extreme temperatures impact people in different ways, depending on age, underlying medical conditions and how well they are acclimatized to experienced conditions. Exposure to extreme temperatures for long periods without reprieve can make it difficult for the human body to maintain a consistent body temperature. This plan identifies the role of the City of Lethbridge, and external stakeholders during extreme temperature events.

  1. Ensure the community is provided with the issued warning, and what precautions to take when temperatures reach extreme levels;
  2. Coordinate community response when temperatures reach extreme levels;
  3. Ensure the high-risk populations are cared for when temperatures reach extreme levels;
  4. Provide cooling or heating centers when appropriate; and
  5. Activate the City’s Municipal Emergency Management Plan (MEMP) when appropriate.

Heat warnings are issued in southern Alberta when:

  • When two or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 32 degrees Celsius or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to remain at 16 degrees Celsius or warmer;

Heat warnings are issued in the rest of Alberta when:

  • When two or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 29 degrees Celsius or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to remain at 14 degrees Celsius or warmer.

The Heat Alert protocol, developed by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and adapted by the Province of Alberta, involves three stages.

Prior to an alert, ECCC will send out special weather statements which forecast increased temperatures approaching an alert stage. This allows for pre-planning and public education messaging to be developed and distributed by Alberta Health, and amplified by other agencies throughout the community.

Heat Alerts are activated when conditions are severe enough to present a substantial threat to the life or health of the community such as:

  • When Environment Canada issues a Heat Notice: Get Prepared
  • When Environment Canada issues a Heat Warning: Take Action
  • When Environment Canada issues an Expanded Heat Warning: Be Informed

In the event the City has identified a heat emergency exists, or potentially exists, outside of the thresholds defined by ECCC, the City Manager may utilize Section 551(1) of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) to activate the Extreme Temperature Response Plan.

  • Section 551(1): in an emergency a municipality may take whatever actions or measures are necessary to eliminate the emergency.
  • Section 541(b): “emergency” includes a situation in which there is imminent danger to public safety or of serious harm to property

In Alberta, an extreme cold warning is issued when temperatures or the wind chill index reach minus 40 degrees Celsius or colder. Being exposed for short periods in these conditions can be dangerous

Extreme Cold Weather Events will be declared by Alberta Health when conditions meet ECCC thresholds, and are expected to be associated with elevated health risks for vulnerable individuals. The intent of calling a warning is to:

  • Warn people who are vulnerable to cold weather and their service providers and caregivers that such conditions are expected or already exist in the City
  • Urge vulnerable people to take measures to protect their health
  • Trigger response activities by the City and community partners to protect vulnerable people within the city (e.g., enhance services)

When issuing an Extreme Cold Warning, Alberta Health also considers other factors that may increase the impact of cold weather on health such as precipitation, low daytime temperatures, days/nights of cold weather in a row, and sudden cold weather.

City Defined Cold Warning

In the event the City has identified a cold emergency exists, or potentially exists, outside of the thresholds defined by ECCC, the City Manager may utilize Section 551(1) of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) to activate the Extreme Temperature Response Plan.

  • Section 551(1): in an emergency a municipality may take whatever actions or measures are necessary to eliminate the emergency.
  • Section 541(b): “emergency” includes a situation in which there is imminent danger to public safety or of serious harm to property

Environment and Climate Change Canada

  • Provide current and forecasted temperatures, issue weather warnings, extreme temperature warnings and extreme temperature emergencies. Potential issuing of broadcast intrusive alert by Alberta’s Alert Ready program. Participation in AEMA led coordination calls to provide situation updates to regional stakeholders

Alberta Health

  • The Provincial health authority will coordinate proactive services for more vulnerable people who may be at risk during the extreme temperature event, including ensuring extreme temperature warnings are sent out with tips for staying cool/warm and advice to help vulnerable community members. Patient monitoring in any Health Authority operated care facility.

Alberta Emergency Management Agency

  • AEMA works with local governments and First Nations to support communities. Once the threat of an emergency develops, AEMA will provide details to local governments, First Nations and lead agencies through the Daily Provincial Operations Center Situation Report. Should resources be needed, AEMA will assist with the logistics for acquisition.

Director of Emergency Management (DEM)

  • Provide public education relating to hazard awareness and individual emergency preparedness
  • The DEM monitors weather data from Environment and Climate Change Canada, including temperature and humidex for the City of Lethbridge.
  • Emergency Management receives notification from Environment and Climate change Canada when heat or extreme cold warnings will be issued based on upcoming forecasts.
  • Notify the Emergency Management Agency (ELT) and Emergency Advisory Committee (Council) of a forecasted extreme temperature event
    • Support public communication
    • Convene stakeholder meetings as required
    • The DEM may elect to activate the City’s Emergency Coordination Center (ECC)

City Manager

  • Receive updates from the DEM
  • Activate the Extreme Temperature Response Protocol utilizing Section 551(1) MGA if satisfied a temperature-related emergency exists, outside of defined thresholds by ECCC

Community Social Development (CSD)

  • Upon notification through DEM, CSD will liaise with community service providers to:
    • Ensure initial notifications and situational updates are received
    • Assist with needs assessments for additional resources or response components and communicate needs to DEM for logistical support

Emergency Social Services (ESS)

  • In the event additional facilities or supports are required, the City ESS team may be activated to provide:
    • Emergency shelters and included elements (i.e., emergency food, clothing, shelter, family reunification)
    • Activation and coordination of disaster service providers (i.e., Canadian Red Cross & the Salvation Army)
    • Operational oversight for emergent challenges through the ECC
  • Note: If activating an emergency shelter, the City must notify Alberta Health Services (AHS) to confirm activation and compliance with Public Health standards.

Emergency Shelters and Community Organizations

  • Share information on prevention of temperature-related illness to clients
  • Inform staff and volunteers regarding summer and winter operating plans
  • Activate relevant response plans
  • Collaborate with other shelters and community organizations to support vulnerable populations
  • Collaborate with first responders on any necessary interventions and responses

Heating and cooling centre locations:

City of Lethbridge-Operated Facilities

  • Lethbridge Transit Park N’ Ride
  • City Transit Busses
  • Lethbridge Public Library: Main and Crossing Branch
  • Helen Schuler Nature Center

Community-based Facilities (Publicly available contacts)

  • Streets Alive
    • Warehouse (donations): 403-635-9362
  • Interfaith Food Bank: 403-320-8022
  • Lethbridge Food Bank: 403-320-1879

Government resources

The Government of Alberta provides important information and resources on emergency preparedness, including:

  • Emergency Preparedness Week
  • Hazard preparedness
  • Shelter in place

The Government of Canada provides important information and resources on emergency preparedness. Learn about:

  • Hazards that can lead to emergencies
  • How to prepare your household for emergencies
  • Information, safety tips, posters, presentations and other resources to help you be prepared
  • How to be flood-ready
  • Canadian disaster database
  • Preparing for wildfires
  • Emergency Preparedness Week

Every Lethbridge household should have an emergency plan. A plan helps you and your family know what to do in case of an emergency. It should include elements for your household, workplace(s), children, pets, special health needs, meeting locations, emergency contacts and emergency kit.

The Government of Canada allows you to create an emergency plan online in mere minutes. Start creating your emergency plan today.

Emergency Preparedness Guide for People with Disabilities/Special Needs

View the Government of Canada’s Emergency Preparedness Guide for People with Disabilities/Special Needs.

Annual checks

It’s important to complete annual checks on your emergency plan to ensure all information is still correct. An annual check-in allows for you and your family to review your plan and ask questions. Remember, practice makes perfect.

Practicing and maintaining your plan

Once you have developed your plan, you should practice and maintain it. For example, ask questions to make sure your family members remember meeting places, phone numbers and safety rules. Conduct drills, such as "drop, cover and hold on" for earthquakes. Test fire alarms. Replace and update disaster supplies.

Learn how to prepare an emergency kit so you and your family can be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours without power or tap water.


Learn about:

Ensure you incorporate any pets into your emergency planning. Your emergency plan should consider:

  • How you will gather and transport pets
  • Where you will go and what you will bring with your pets (including food supplies for seven days, medication, ID tags, recent photos, disposable bags and clean-up cloths)
  • Your pet’s stressors and how to calm them
  • If your pet is friendly with people and animals
  • If your pet has food medication that needs to stay cold
  • Any emergency pet-friendly contacts, including hotels, kennels, shelters, and family and friends outside the community


Learn how you can ensure your pets are safe when an emergency occurs.


Animal Emergency Task Force

The Animal Emergency Task Force is a response team dedicated to helping animals in emergency or disasters by preparing for, rescuing, receiving and reuniting animals with their owners. The task force provides additional tips and resources for including pets in your emergency planning.


Farm animal and livestock preparedness

The Government of Alberta provides an Emergency Preparedness Guide for Farm Animals and Livestock.

Your ability to recover from an emergencies and unexpected situations also involves your connections with others. Make sure to connect with your neighbours before and during emergency situations, as community members like neighbours, co-workers and friends in affected areas are often first on-scene. It is easier to ask for help when you have established a relationship. If you are not already familiar with your neighbours, consider reaching out to make connections.

Disasters can affect people in different ways. Sometimes we have emotional responses right away and sometimes they develop days, weeks, months or even years after. Feelings of stress are normal, but some people can experience more distress and require help.

Monitor yourself and loved ones for signs of distress, which could include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression or unexplained physical issues
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Emotional outbursts

If any of these signs appear, talk about them and seek advice and support using professional mental health services.

Learn what kinds of hazards might happen or are present in our community and how you and your loved ones can effectively prepare to handle them, including:

  • Avalanches
  • Earthquakes
  • Extreme cold
  • Extreme heat
  • Floods
  • Pandemic influenza
  • Landslides
  • Power outages
  • Severe storms
  • Tornadoes
  • Wildfires


View the Government of Alberta’s video, “What are Hazards and How Can They Affect You?”

City officials and other authorities will not ask you to leave your home unless they have reason to believe you are in danger.

Stay updated

Follow our Emergency and Safety News to stay updated on emergency alerts from the City of Lethbridge. You can also follow the Alberta Emergency Alert System.

If you are ordered to evacuate

If you are ordered to evacuate, ensure you take:

  • Your emergency kit
  • Your emergency plan
  • Essential medications and prescriptions
  • A cell phone
  • Your pets

If you have time, be sure to:

  • Call or email your out-of-town contact. Tell them where you are going and when you expect to arrive. Once you are safe, let them know. Tell them if any family members have become separated.
  • Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.

How to protect your home

  • Shut off your water and electricity if officials instruct you to do so
  • Leave natural gas services on, unless officials tell you to turn it off (in a major emergency, it could take weeks for a gas company representative to reconnect your gas – leaving you without heating and cooking)
  • Lock your home

A shelter-in-place advisory is a public safety and risk-reduction measure issued if there is an outdoor threat to life-safety, and an evacuation is a greater risk. An advisory means you should take immediate shelter indoors where you are – whether that be at home, school or work. You will be notified when it’s safe to emerge from the advisory.

Learn more about shelter-in-place advisories, including:

  • Reasons to shelter
  • Severe weather
  • Hazardous air quality
  • What to do before sheltering in place
  • Who to contact if you have questions

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