Emergency Preparedness

None of us want to imagine the worst - but as many Ottawa residents have experienced in the past couple of years, sometimes the worst happens. The tornado that touched down in Orleans last night is the latest in unusual weather events (like 2018’s tornado and the 2017-2019 floods) that we can expect to be coping with as climate change intensifies.

Ottawa tornado

Despite a healthy perspective on risk, as a mother, I still worry. And as a former Girl Guide, the motto "be prepared" is ingrained in me. Although I don't see a tornado, or freezing rain (or even a pandemic) carrying me away any time soon, I am conscious of the need to prepare for any disaster.

Trees bent under the ice

Trees bent under the ice

The City of Ottawa has a great page dedicated to emergency preparedness. After years of a niggling voice telling me to get my butt in gear, I've finally decided to put together our family's Emergency Preparedness Kit.

Experts urge us to prepare for 72 hours. If a pandemic were sweeping the country, I'm not sure what 72 hours would do for us, but it makes sense when it comes to something like a natural disaster. Here's what the government includes as part of a basic emergency kit:

  • Easy to carry: think of ways that you can pack your emergency kit so that you and those on your emergency plan can easily take the items with you, if necessary

  • Water: two litres of water per person per day (include small bottles that can be carried easily in case of an evacuation order)

  • Food: that won't spoil, such as canned food, energy bars and dried foods (remember to replace the food and water once a year)

  • Manual can opener

  • Flashlight and batteries

  • Battery-powered or wind-up radio

  • Extra batteries

  • First aid kit

  • Special needs items: prescription medications, infant formula or equipment for people with disabilities

  • Extra keys for your car and house

  • Cash: include smaller bills, such as $10 bills (travellers cheques are also useful) and change for payphones

This is a great list, and they also include "extras" that you can add. Given that we're a family who loves camping, we already have a lot of these supplies. It's just a matter of compiling all of this into a couple of bins, which could be transferred to backpacks if necessary.

Here's some of the extras I'll be adding to our family's emergency kit:

  • extra water for washing/cooking

  • basic tools (hammer, knife etc.)

  • our camping stove, fueled by white gas (we can fill several bottles full and keep them stored)

  • water purification tablets - safe, effective little tablets that will kill bacteria and viruses

  • carbon water filter (my husband owns one, and it's essential for backcountry camping!)

  • Flint fire starter and matches

  • Camping pots, dishes and cutlery

  • Waterproof food storage bags

  • Some personal toiletries

This might seem excessive to some (just check out this website, and you'll think my list is tame in comparison!), but it makes me feel better knowing I have this stuff available to me. Living in the modern world, we all too easily rely on convenience - we know we can buy what we need any time of the day. When preparing for an emergency, imagine what you would do if you couldn't access a store; if your cell phone was no longer working; if you were driven from your home; and if you had no access to electricity. Makes you think, right?

Do you have an emergency preparedness kit? What's in it?

 

Ottawa Remembrance Day Ceremonies

Remembrance Day falls on a Sunday this year, which means it's a great opportunity to find a ceremony or parade to attend as a family. There are also events taking place before Remembrance Day. Here is a list of Remembrance Day events and ceremonies in Ottawa:

Remembrance Day Ceremonies and Parades.png

Virtual Poppy Drop on Parliament Hill

On Parliament Hill from now until November 11th over 100,000 falling poppies will be projected onto the Peace Tower and Centre Block. The virtual Poppy Drop is presented by the Royal Canadian Legion. There is one poppy for each of Canada’s fallen.

Ceremonies on November 11, 2018

  • Beechwood Cemetery - 10:30 a.m. to noon. Taking place at the National Military Cemetery on the grounds of Beechwood Cemetery, this ceremony honours all those who have fallen in the service of Canada and all Canadian Forces members interred at the cemetery. There will also be a performance by the children’s choir.

  • Bells Corners – 10:30 to 12:30 a.m., Royal Canadian Legion (Bells Corners Branch 593).

  • Eastview/Vanier – 1:30 to 3 p.m., Royal Canadian Legion (Eastview Branch 462), north on Cyr Avenue between the Royal Canadian Legion (294 Cyr Avenue) and Montreal Road, east on Montreal Road between Cyr Avenue and Hannah Street, and north on Hannah Street between Montreal Road and Marier Avenue, and to the Vanier Cenotaph for the ceremonial service. Following the service, the parade participants will return to the Royal Canadian Legion going south on Hannah Street between Marier Avenue and Montreal Road, south on Cody Avenue between Montreal Road and Jeanne Mance Street, west on Jeanne Mance Street between Cody Avenue and Savard Avenue, and north on Savard Avenue between Jeanne Mance Street and Racine Robert Funeral Home.

  • Kanata – 10:15 a.m. to 11 a.m., Royal Canadian Legion (Kanata Branch 638), east on The Parkway between Earl of March High School (4 Parkway) and Teron Road, south on Teron Road between The Parkway and Colchester Square, Colchester Square, and west on Campeau Drive between Colchester Square and the John Mlacak Centre.

  • Manotick/South Carleton – 10:15 a.m. to noon, Royal Canadian Legion (South Carleton Branch 314), east on Beaverwood Road from the Royal Canadian Legion to Manotick Main Street, north on Manotick Main Street from Beaverwood Road to Clapp Lane, east on Clapp Lane from Manotick Main Street, and to the Manotick Cenotaph for the ceremonial service. Then, south on Dickinson Street from the Manotick Cenotaph and Mill Street, west on Mill Street from Dickinson Street and Manotick Main Street, south on Manotick Main Street from Mill Street and Beaverwood Road, west on Beaverwood Road from Manotick Main Street and the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 314)

  • National War Memorial – 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Royal Canadian Legion, Dominion Command. The following street closures will be in effect:
    Rideau/Wellington Street between Sussex/Colonel By Drive and Bank Street, Queen Street between O’Connor Street and Elgin Street, Elgin Street between Wellington Street and Albert Street, Metcalfe Street between Wellington Street and Albert Street, and O’Connor Street between Wellington Street and Queen Street.

  • Navan – 10:30 a.m. to noon, Colonial Road between Delson Drive and Fairgreen Avenue, and to the Navan Cenotaph for the ceremonial service.

  • Orléans – 10:30 to 11 a.m., Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 632), Vimont Court and Taylor Creek Boulevard between Vimont Court and the Royal Canadian Legion at 800 Taylor Creek Boulevard, and to the Orleans Cenotaph for the ceremonial service.

  • Osgoode – 10:45 a.m. to noon, Royal Canadian Legion (Osgoode Branch 589), Victoria Street between Eighth Line Road and Louise Street, and to the ceremonial service at the Osgoode Cenotaph in front of the Municipal Building.

  • Richmond – 10:45 a.m. to noon, Royal Canadian Legion (Richmond Branch 625), Perth Street between the Richmond Shopping Plaza and the Richmond Memorial Park for the ceremonial service.

  • Stittsville – 1:45 to 2:45 p.m., Royal Canadian Legion (Stittsville and District Branch 618), north on Stittsville Main Street between the Royal Canadian Legion, (1480 Stittsville Main Street) and Warner-Colpitts Lane, and west on Warner-Colpitts Lane between Stittsville Main Street and the Stittsville Cenotaph for the ceremonial service. The parade participants will return to the Royal Canadian Legion going east on Mulkins Street between the Stittsville Cenotaph and Stittsville Main Street, and south on Stittsville Main Street between Mulkins Street and the Royal Canadian Legion, Stittsville Branch 618.

  • Strathcona – 10:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Sunday, November 5, Royal Canadian Legion (Strathcona Branch 595), Main Street between Immaculata High School (140 Main Street) parking lot and St. Paul University (223 Main Street) parking lot for the ceremonial service.

  • West Carleton – 1 to 2 p.m., Saturday, November 4, Royal Canadian Legion (West Carleton Branch 616), Constance Bay Road between McConnell Lane and Allbirch Road, and Allbirch Road between Constance Bay Road, and to the Royal Canadian Legion for the ceremonial service.

  • Westboro – 1:30 to 3 p.m., Royal Canadian Legion (Westboro Branch 480), north on Winston Avenue between the Royal Canadian Legion and Madison Avenue, east on Madison Avenue between Winston Avenue and Churchill Avenue, south on Churchill Avenue between Madison Avenue and Richmond Road, and west on Richmond Road between Churchill Avenue and Broadview Avenue to the Westboro Cenotaph. Wreath laying and ceremonial service at Westboro Cenotaph from 2:30 p.m. The parade participants will return east on Richmond Road between Broadview Avenue and the Royal Canadian Legion (Westboro Branch 480).

What a Week (but Standing Strong)

It's Friday - does anyone else feel totally exhausted today? Not your normal Friday afternoon exhausted, but emotionally exhausted. This week has been a tough one for our beautiful city, and for the family and friends of those affected by the shooting. I cried for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, as I also cried for the outpouring of love and strength that resulted from this tragic event.

Today our city honoured Cpl. Cirillo in a moving ceremony, as the Ceremonial Guard is reinstated at the National War Memorial. Although I wasn't there, the support I witnessed through video and photos makes me exceedingly proud of our city and our country.

My children are too young to know what happened here this week. When they are old enough to understand, I hope they will listen to the stories about October 22nd.  And I hope they will feel a deep sense of respect for the people who have lost their lives in the battle against senseless violence.

Canada Strong and Free

I hope Ottawans continue to tell their stories - continue to post pictures and words - for many years to come. As with all the wars in which we have fought, the honouring of lives lost may one day help to foster peace for the future.

Lest we forget

Home Daddy: One Man's Choice To Be A Stay-At-Home Dad

With the "Mommy Wars" dominating news headlines, it's easy to forget about the other half of the story - the male half, that is. In the endless debates between working moms and stay-at-home moms, the issue of men balancing family and career rarely comes under scrutiny. According to a report released this summer, stay-at-home dads have doubled in numbers since 1989. And many of these men stay home by choice. The report is American, but the situation is similar here: "In Canada in 2011, 12 per cent of fathers stayed home with children while mothers earned money, up from just 1 per cent in 1976, according to Statistics Canada." (Globe & Mail)

In our family, Daddy's been at home with our two girls for almost a year. My husband made the choice to pursue a new career after losing his job. It wasn't the plan that he become a stay-at-home dad forever, but we budgeted for at least 6-9 months. The fact that this may extend to 12 months and beyond doesn't bother us (much).

In contrast to the overwhelming majority of women who stay home, men don't normally choose to stay home and care for their children. Many of them are at home due to job loss or an injury or illness. The job loss my husband experienced was welcome - his work hours were grueling, and I often joked that from May to October I was a single parent. He worked early mornings, evenings and weekends. It wasn't a family lifestyle we wanted to maintain.

There have been challenges to having my husband be the stay-at-home parent, and many of them are related to the stigma we face. Although no one would say it to our faces, we get the sense that "getting back to work" is what men must do. Most women sigh and say "oh, you're so lucky," when another mother is able to stay at home with the kids. But society generally expects that fathers will need to find work again. After all, what kind of man could be satisfied with the life of a stay-at-home dad? I know my husband has certainly had his doubts, and has worried about his future career and our financial situation (which is actually pretty good for a one-income family!)

There's also my own internal struggle - trying to accept that it's ok for me to be away from my kids. And not only that it's OK, but that I actually prefer it this way. I've done it all in the past - stayed home full-time, worked part-time and worked full-time (even double full-time some months!). The happiest I've felt is working 2-3 days/week. I welcome that time away from my children to re-connect with my own goals and dreams, but it's lovely to have the extra days at home to play, bake, cook and (yes, on some days) pull my hair out.

As some wise women have pointed out to me, we're doing a wonderful thing for our girls. They've developed a strong bond with Daddy, and watch their Mommy go out to do the work that she loves. My oldest daughter gets to come straight home after school, and I know my youngest is learning so much with Daddy.

My husband chose to stay at home to make life better for our family, and I chose to go back to work to make life better for our family. Isn't that all that really matters? The only things I want my girls to believe about all this work/family hullabaloo are:

1) Their Dad rocks 2) Their Mom rocks 3) Gender roles be damned!

 

Autism on the Hill - April 2

Did you know that 1 in 88 children have autism? And if you're looking at stats for boys (it is more common for boys to be diagnosed with autism than girls), the number jumps to 1 in 54. This statistics are from the U.S., but are often quoted her in Canada because the prevalence of autism isn't being monitored here. These stats are from 2012, so speculation is that these numbers have likely increased. Province to province there are vast differences in the amount and type of support that parents receive. If you start to look at what's going on, it can make your head spin. This is why it's important for government leaders to be aware of what families are facing - both on the federal and provincial levels.

Autism on the Hill is a peaceful event designed to raise awareness about autism. On April 2, families and friends of children and adults who are affected by autism will gather at Parliament Hill for the second year in a row. This event is being coordinated by Suzanne Jacobson of QuickStart - Early Intervention for Autism (a fantastic organization you'll want to connect with if you have a young child on the spectrum).

autism-on-the-hill

 

brandon-aviationBefore I ever had kids, I knew there was a chance I'd have a child with ASD because I have three families members who are all on the spectrum. Autism has brought a lot of unexpected challenges into our life, but I wouldn't wish it away for even a minute. My son wouldn't be the person he is if he didn't have autism and I adore my sweet little boy.

More and more children are having special needs identified - from developmental disorders (like autism) to food allergies and intolerances. The more we raise awareness of the diversity of needs to be met amongst our young children, the easier it will be for them to find support and understanding within the community as they grow into adulthood.

*****

Karen Wilson is a mom to Brandon, wife to Matt and business owner trying to juggle all three while laughing through each day at the antics of her husband and son. So, it's understandable when she drops a ball here and there. Right?