Emergency preparedness in Canada, 2014
by Andrea Taylor-Butts
Corrections and updates
The article “Emergency Preparedness in Canada, 2014” which was released on October 28th, 2015 was reloaded on March 23, 2016. A coding error was detected in the calculation of “recent immigrant” which affected data tables and analysis focusing on this population. These revisions affect the recent immigrant data presented in tables 7, 8, 9 and 12 and appendix tables A to C.
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- Section 1: Emergency preparedness across Canada’s provinces: Fire safety, other precautionary measures and planning activities
- Section 2: Risk awareness and anticipated sources of help in an emergency
- Survey description
- Detailed data tables
Disasters carry the potential to deliver significant, even devastating impacts — be they social, economic, environmental, or infrastructural — to the communities they strike. For this reason, the importance of building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters has received global recognition (United Nations, International Strategy for Disaster Reduction 2015). Many developed countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, have enacted policies and programmes recognizing the role of emergency preparedness and resilience against disasters (see, for example, the United States’ National Security Strategy (2010) and the 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Strategic National Framework on Community Resilience (2011), Cabinet Office, UK; and National Strategy for Disaster Resilience (2011), Council of Australian Governments).Note 1
Canada has also developed a joint federal-provincial-territorial approach to emergency management, known as An Emergency Management Framework for Canada (Ministries Responsible for Emergency Management 2011). The framework is built on four main pillars: prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Among its underlying principles, Canada’s emergency management framework emphasizes that emergency management involves "all Canadians" and that the responsibility of emergency management falls on many shoulders, including those of individuals who carry “...a responsibility to be prepared for disaster and contribute to community resilience” (Ministries Responsible for Emergency Management 2011 p. 6). Canada’s Emergency Management Framework also assumes a risk-based approach which underscores the importance of assessing vulnerabilities and reducing threats with the view to achieving “an optimal balance and integration of measures to address vulnerabilities and risks” (Ministries Responsible for Emergency Management 2011 p. 7).
At the municipal level, the importance of preparedness and resilience takes on particular significance. Disasters are most often local events – experienced locally and managed locally by municipalities. It is estimated that municipal governments are the first line of response in more than 90% of all emergencies Canada-wide, giving them a critical role to play in emergency preparedness and response (Federation of Canadian Municipalities 2006). Accordingly, municipalities have recognized the growing risks associated with natural and human-induced disasters and have collectively acknowledged the importance of risk identification, prevention, mitigation and preparedness, municipally, and at all levels of government (Federation of Canadian Municipalities 2006).
Using data from the Survey of Emergency Preparedness and Resilience (SEPR) in Canada, this report investigates emergency preparedness activities and risk awareness among Canadians aged 15 and over from across the 10 provinces.Note 2, Note 3 The SEPR, conducted for the first time in 2014, contributes to the understanding of community resilience in Canada by examining how Canadians prepare for and respond to emergencies or disasters. The survey also collects information on a number of socio-demographic characteristics that may make some groups more or less prepared or vulnerable in a disaster (see the Survey description section at the end of this document for more information).Note 4
Divided into two main sections, this report presents the first results from the SEPR. Section one looks at Canadians’ emergency preparedness by examining the measures or steps they take to prevent and prepare for emergencies and the impact certain socio-demographic factors might have on levels of preparedness. It also considers how prepared individuals feel they are by examining their perceptions of their own ability to manage in an emergency situation.
The second section explores the types of events individuals from across Canada’s provinces perceive as potential hazards; who people expect to turn to for help and information in the initial stages of an emergency; and what sources of help and support may be available to Canadians during or following a major emergency. By illustrating how prepared Canadians are and identifying who is at risk, this information will be of particular importance to those responsible for emergency planning and the strengthening of community resilience.
Section 1: Emergency preparedness across Canada’s provinces: Fire safety, other precautionary measures and planning activities
Vast majority of Canadians live in homes with smoke detectors
Efforts to promote fire safety, such as public awareness campaigns and legislation making smoke detectors (as well as carbon monoxide detectors in some jurisdictions) mandatory for all residential homes, are widely spread across Canada (Fire Prevention Canada n.d.; Canadian Fire Safety Association n.d.). When it comes to measures related to fire safety, most individuals in Canada live in households that are well equipped with respect to smoke detectorsNote 5 but less so in terms of fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors. According to the 2014 SEPR, 98% of individuals indicated that their homes had a working smoke detector while two-thirds (66%) had a working fire extinguisher and fewer still (60%) had a working carbon monoxide detector (Table 1). More than one-third of Canadians lived in a household that had taken two of these three fire safety precautions, while 42% had all three in place.
Provincially, individuals from Ontario (53%) and Alberta (48%) were most likely to live in households that were equipped with all three fire safety measures (Chart 1).Note 6 Conversely, those in New Brunswick (27%) and Quebec (28%) were least likely to have all three of these devices in their homes.Note 7 Carbon monoxide detectors were most frequently reported among individuals from Ontario (80%),Note 8 Saskatchewan (66%) and Alberta (65%) and least often in Quebec (34%) and New Brunswick (35%). Fire extinguishers, however, were most common in Newfoundland and Labrador (84%) and Prince Edward Island (75%) and least common in Manitoba (63%), Saskatchewan (63%) and Ontario (64%).
Looking at Canada’s census metropolitan areas (CMA),Note 9 carbon monoxide detectors were found most frequently among individuals living in Oshawa (89%) and the other Ontario CMAs of Hamilton, St. Catharines-Niagara, Barrie and Greater Sudbury (each at 85%, respectively) (Table 2). In contrast, individuals from the Quebec CMAs of Québec (27%), Saguenay (31%) and Montréal (31%) had the lowest proportions of carbon monoxide detectors. Individuals in St. John’s (82%), and Barrie (75%) reported the highest proportion of fire extinguishers while those from Toronto (56%) had the lowest.
Differences in the reported use of fire safety devices may be influenced by a number of factors such as provincial variations in building code regulations and fire safety legislation; the structural characteristics of the dwelling (e.g. single-detached house versus an apartment in a high-rise building); and the type of energy used to heat the home (e.g., electricity versus natural gas).
Nearly six in ten Canadians have wind-up or battery-operated radios
There are a number of actions or precautions that can be taken in preparation for an emergency. All SEPR respondents were asked if their household had any of the following four, non-fire related precautionary measures: a wind-up or battery-operated radio; an alternate source of heat such as a non-electric stove or wood-burning fireplace; a back-up generator; and additional sources of water. Almost six in ten (58%) Canadians across the provinces reported having a wind-up or battery-operated radio in their home, about half (48%) had an alternate source of heat and a similar proportion (43%) kept an alternate source of water on hand, in the event of an emergency. Back-up generators were the least common precautionary measure reported (23%) (Table 3).
While nearly one in six (16%) Canadians did not have a wind-up or battery-operated radio, an alternate source of heat, a back-up generator or additional sources of water in their home, many reported having more than one of these precautionary measures in place. Households engaging in three or four of the specified precautionary measures could be considered to have taken a moderately high or high number of precautions, whereas those with one or two could be described as having implemented a low or moderately low number of measures. More than half (55%) of Canadians lived in a household that had taken one or two of the non-fire related emergency precautions and 27% had taken a moderately high or high number of precautionary actions, having at least three of the measures in place.
Aside from the four non-fire related precautionary measures and the three fire-safety devices (i.e., smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector and fire extinguisher), about one in five (21%) Canadians reported taking some other type of emergency precaution, such as checking and replenishing emergency supplies, having an extra supply of fuel on hand, keeping exits clear and ensuring they have made arrangements for pets in the event of an emergency.
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Certain types of knowledge can help foster preparedness
- According to the SEPR, about seven in ten people live in households where all adults and older children know how to turn off their home’s electricity (72%) and water (70%). A smaller proportion (43%) indicated that their households’ members (i.e., adults and older children) knew how to turn off the home’s gas.
- More than one-third (37%) of Canadians reported that they or someone in their household knew both CPR and first aid, having been trained in both within the last three years. Another 7% had CPR training alone and 4% were trained only in first aid.
- Among those with home insurance, about four in ten (42%) rated their level of knowledge about what their policy covers as a four or five (highly knowledgeable) on a 5-point scale. About three in ten (28%) felt they had little or no knowledge at all, assigning themselves a rating of one or two. About 4% of individuals reported that they did not have home insurance coverage.
Atlantic Canadians take more precautionary measures
Taking a closer look across the provinces, individuals in the Atlantic provinces were more likely to report taking a higher number of precautionary actions (excluding fire-related measures), compared to those in other provinces. For example, about three-quarters of individuals from Prince Edward Island (78%), Nova Scotia (77%), and Newfoundland and Labrador (75%), as well as 66% of those from New Brunswick, had a non-electric radio in their home, compared to about half of those in Alberta (49%) and Manitoba (51%). Further, more than half of individuals in New Brunswick (56%), Nova Scotia (55%), and Prince Edward Island (53%) (and 48% in Newfoundland and Labrador) reported having an additional source of water compared to 38% of Quebecers and 41% of Albertans.
In general, about four in ten individuals from each of the Atlantic provinces lived in households that had taken a high or moderately high number of precautionary measures, compared to three in ten or less in the other provinces.Note 10 High numbers of precautionary measures were reported most frequently in Nova Scotia (44%) and least often in Manitoba (23%) (Chart 2).
Examining the prevalence of precautionary measures (excluding fire-related measures) taken across Canada’s CMAs, the greatest differences are seen in the proportions of wind-up or battery-operated radios and additional sources of water (Table 4). In the CMAs of St. John’s (84%), Halifax (76%) and Saint John (75%), about eight in ten individuals had a wind-up or battery operated radio in their home, compared to about five in ten in Edmonton (48%), Calgary (49%) and Winnipeg (49%), the CMAs with the lowest proportions. For most other CMAs, the proportion was approximately six in ten. Supplementary water supplies were most common among individuals in Saint John (63%), Peterborough (56%) and Victoria (56%) and least common among residents of Trois-Rivières (29%), Saguenay (31%), and Sherbrooke (31%). In addition, having an alternate source of heat was most frequently reported in Victoria (60%) and least often in Winnipeg (37%), while individuals from St. John’s (36%) had the largest proportion of individuals with back-up generators in their homes and those in Calgary (10%) the smallest.
Majority of Canadians live in households that had engaged in some type of emergency planning
The SEPR asks about a number of emergency planning activities that could help mitigate the confusion that can arise in the midst of a major emergency or disaster. These key planning activities include: compiling a list of emergency contact names; developing and practising a home exit plan; having a plan for how household members will contact each other in the event they are separated when an emergency occurs; establishing a designated meeting spot if an emergency prevents household members from returning home; preparing home and automobile emergency supply kits; and obtaining extra copies of important documents. Most Canadians (98%) across the provinces generally lived in households that had engaged in one or more of these key emergency planning activities.
Overall, having a list of emergency contacts was the most frequently named planning activity, reported by nearly seven in ten (69%) (Table 5). Six in ten lived in households with emergency exit plans. Nevertheless, fewer than half (45%) of those residing in homes with an emergency exit plan, indicated that they had practised or reviewed the plan in the preceding 12 months.
Just over half of Canadians (55%) reported having a plan for how household members would get in touch if separated due to an emergency situation. A similar proportion (53%) indicated that they had copies of important documents such as insurance policies, birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports, licences or deeds, stored in a safe place.
Fewer than half of Canadians live in households with an emergency supply kit
People were less likely to have set aside items such as water, food, medicine, flashlights and cash in an emergency supply kit for their homes, with fewer than half (47%) reporting that they had done so.Note 11 However, more than half (59%) of vehicle-owners had an emergency supply kit for their vehicle. The least common of the planning activities was having a designated meeting place, mentioned by just one-third of Canadians across the provinces.
Individuals with special medical needs (e.g., dependence on medication, special medical equipment or mobility issues) may consider their condition when planning for an emergency to ensure that they have access to necessary medications and equipment. According to the 2014 SEPR, 62% of those with special medical needs or those who had someone in their household with such needs had a plan in place to ensure these requirements would be met in the event of an emergency.
The types of planning activities individuals were asked about on the SEPR varied depending on whether they lived in a single-person versus multiple-person household, had a vehicle, or if they or someone in their home had special health needs. All respondents, however, were asked about a minimum of four activities: having an exit plan, an emergency supply kit, extra copies of important documents and an emergency contact list. Households participating in three or four of these activities could be described as engaging in a moderately high or high number of emergency planning activities, and those participating in one or two as engaging in a low or moderately low number of planning activities.
At 42%, less than half of Canadians reported that their household had undertaken one or two of these planning activities. However, a slightly higher proportion, 47%, lived in a household that participated in at least three of the four strategies or engaged in a moderately high or high level of emergency planning.
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Emergency preparedness survey results from the United States, Australia, and Scotland
A number of western countries have conducted surveys in order to measure the emergency preparedness of their citizens. The results of these studies, while not directly comparable to SEPR due to differences in survey methodologies, help provide a useful international perspective for understanding preparedness.
- In the United States, the 2012 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Survey, a telephone survey of 2,013 American households, found that 43% of individuals had a household emergency plan that included instructions about where to go and what to do in the event of a disaster. In addition 52% of Americans reported having disaster supplies set aside in their homes (FEMA 2013).
- In 2011, the Australian Bureau of Statistics' survey, Community Preparedness for Emergencies, Western Australia, found that 44% of households in Western Australia had an exit plan for how to get out of the dwelling if there was an emergency. This survey of 2,867 adults, conducted by telephone and through face-to-face interviews, also reported other preparedness findings such as the following: 91% of households had food that did not require cooking or refrigeration on hand; 68% had drinking water in bottles or containers; 50% had a portable radio with batteries; 82% kept important documents together and 43% of households with at least one member on medication for a long-term medical condition, stored the medications together (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012).
- The 2013 Scottish Opinion Survey used in-person interviews with a sample of 1,012 adults to assess the nature and extent of emergency preparedness. Among the study's findings, 69% of individuals indicated that their household would have enough food for a week or less if they had no power, water or access to shopping; 46% reported having additional ways of keeping warm if their normal method was disconnected; 57% had a hard copy list of emergency contact numbers; 66% had an up-to-date first aid kit in their home and 60% had a radio and spare batteries or a wind up radio (West and Graham 2013).
Emergency planning activities most prevalent among British Columbians, least in Quebec
The extent to which Canadians participated in emergency planning varied somewhat from province to province. In particular, British Columbia had the largest proportion of individuals living in a household with an emergency exit plan (71%) and an emergency supply kit (55%), and was among the provinces with the largest proportion of individuals who had extra copies of important documents (55%). Still, Saskatchewan (74%) and Alberta (69%) stood out as having sizeable proportions of individuals with emergency supply kits for their vehicles, while those in Newfoundland and Labrador (72%) and Prince Edward Island (72%) were proportionately more likely to have made emergency plans to accommodate individuals in their households with special medical needs. In Quebec, the proportion of individuals reporting emergency exit plans (46%), extra copies of important documents (47%) and vehicle emergency supply kits (46%) was notably lower than for the provinces as a whole. However, for other types of emergency planning activities, the proportions in Quebec were more similar to those recorded in the other provinces, generally.
Overall, more than half of individuals from British Columbia (53%), and nearly as many in Newfoundland and Labrador (49%), Ontario (49%) and Nova Scotia (49%), resided in households that had engaged in a high or moderately high level of emergency planning compared to 40% of individuals in Quebec (Chart 3).Note 12
The pattern of emergency planning activities undertaken across the CMAs largely corresponds with that of the provinces. For example, the presence of an emergency exit plan was most frequently reported by individuals in the respective British Columbia and Ontario CMAs of Victoria (74%) and Thunder Bay (74%), and least popular in the Quebec CMAs of Sherbrooke (39%) and Québec (40%). Household emergency supply kits were especially common in the CMAs of Victoria (63%), Vancouver (54%) and Abbotsford-Mission (52%). Looking at the CMA results also reveals that the proportion of individuals indicating that their household had a plan for meeting special health needs was noticeably higher in St. John’s (79%) and Halifax (71%), while Regina (74%) recorded a comparatively high proportion of individuals with emergency supply kits for their vehicles (Table 6).
A number of social, economic and demographic characteristics have been found to be associated with an increased vulnerability to the adverse impacts and negative consequences of disasters – that is, they are associated with an increased likelihood of suffering harm or loss and can impede recovery following a disaster (Tierney et al. 2001; Canadian Red Cross 2007; Flanagan et al. 2011). In general, a lack of socio-economic resources can influence access to the resources necessary for emergency prevention, mitigation and recovery. Nevertheless, the relationship between these social, economic and demographic variables and emergency preparedness is complex as many of these variables intersect and occur in combination with one another (Tierney et al. 2001; Flanagan et al. 2011).
Characteristics such as sex, age, race and ethnicity, disability status, education and household income, have been found to be related to differences in emergency preparedness, according to the literature (Murphy et al. 2009; Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012; FEMA 2013; FEMA 2014). As well, variations by home ownership, household size and household composition (i.e., the presence of children) have also been reported (Murphy et al. 2009; Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012; Emergency Management Queensland 2013).
Likewise, evidence from the 2014 SEPR also indicates that certain segments of the population engaged in fewer emergency preparedness behaviours. Age and household income, for example, were associated with differences in the use of fire safety and other precautionary measures and participation in emergency planning. Other factors such as immigrant status, visible minority status, the presence of an activity-limiting health condition, home tenure and household size were also related to differences in emergency preparedness as were sex, Aboriginal identity and household composition, but to a somewhat lesser extent.
Adults in their mid-twenties and early thirties were more likely to report living in a household that employed fewer fire safety devices and other precautionary measures and participated in fewer planning activities
Considering age for instance, young adults aged 25 to 34 (36%) were the least likely to live in households that had all three fire safety devices (i.e., smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector and fire extinguisher), in comparison to individuals from other age groups (Table 7). Adults in their mid-twenties and early thirties were also less likely to reside in homes that had taken other precautionary measures such as having an emergency radio, alternate source of heat, back-up generator or supplementary water supply (Table 8). Among 25- to 34-year-olds, 24% were in homes that had not implemented any of these precautionary measures, and while 17% had at least three of the precautions in their homes, this proportion was almost half that of those aged 55 to 64 (32%), the age group most likely to live in households that had done so.
Adults aged 25 to 34 also reported the lowest proportion of individuals living in households that engaged in a moderately high or high number emergency planning activities that is, having an exit plan, an emergency supply kit, extra copies of important documents and an emergency contact list (Table 9).Note 13 After age 25 to 34, levels of emergency planning climbed for each subsequent age group, reaching 49% for seniors (i.e., aged 65 and over).
It is also noteworthy that living in a household that participated in a moderately high or high number of emergency planning activities was most prevalent among the youngest age group, those aged 15 to 24 (52%). This finding may be related to the living arrangements of this younger group. According to the SEPR, about one-quarter (26%) of individuals aged 15 to 24 (compared to approximately two-thirds to three-quarters of adults from older age categories), reported that they were primarily responsible for their household’s emergency planning. The low proportion of those aged 15 to 24 responsible for emergency planning may be related to the relatively high number of individuals in this age group who reside in their parental home, where primary responsibility for emergency planning may instead fall to the parents.Note 14 Consequently, a lack of direct involvement in their households’ emergency planning activities may, in turn, have an impact on individuals’ knowledge of the specific emergency planning that has taken place.
Lower levels of emergency preparedness activities more likely for individuals from lower-income households
Participation in emergency preparedness was also less common among those with lower household incomes. Just over one-quarter (27%) of individuals from households with an annual income of less than $20,000 reported having a smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector as well as a fire extinguisher, compared to 40% of those from households with earnings of $60,000 to $80,000 and more than half (54%) of those from households in the highest income group ($150,000 a year and over). The use of other precautionary measures (i.e., wind-up or battery-operated radio, alternate source of heat, back-up generator or an additional water supply) was also less common among individuals living in homes from the lowest household income group (less than $20,000 per year). Fewer than one in five (18%) individuals from households with earnings of less than $20,000 or more reported a moderately high or high number of household precautionary measures, compared to 27% of those from households with an annual income of $60,000 to $80,000 and 32% of individuals in the highest household income group ($150,000 or more per year).
When it came to emergency planning activities and household income, significant differences were reported between those from the lowest household income group and individuals from most of the higher household income groups. For example, fewer than four in ten (39%) individuals from households with annual earnings of less than $20,000 reported a moderately high or high number of emergency planning activities, compared with 48% of those for whom total household income was $150,000 or more.Note 15
Presence of fire safety devices and other precautionary measures less common among immigrants, visible minorities
Recent immigrantsNote 16 (24%), specifically those who had arrived in Canada between 2004 and 2014, were less likely to live in households equipped with all three fire safety measures than more established immigrants (44%) and those born in Canada (44%). Recent immigrants as well as those who were more established also employed fewer of the non-fire related precautionary measures than non-immigrants. While the homes of nearly one-third (31%) of individuals born in Canada had adopted a moderately high or high number of emergency precautions, the figure for established immigrants was 21% and dropped to 10% for immigrants arriving within the last 10 years (i.e., 2004 to 2014). One-fifth of established immigrants and 26% of recent immigrants had not implemented any of the specified (non-fire related) precautionary measures.
In terms of emergency planning, overall, there were virtually no differences between recent immigrants, established immigrants and non-immigrants, with close to half of individuals from each group reporting that their household engaged in a moderately high or high number of emergency planning activities.Note 17
Members of visible minority groups (35%) were less likely to live in a home with all three fire safety devices than those who did not report being a visible minority (45%), even after controlling for immigrant status. Immigrant status was taken into consideration, given the large proportion (i.e., 65%) of visible minority individuals who are also immigrants (Statistics Canada 2013a). Additionally, the use of other precautionary measures such as a wind-up or battery-operated radio, an alternate source of heat, a back-up generator or an additional water supply, was also significantly lower for visible minorities, with nearly one-quarter (22%) reporting that they did not have any of the four measures in place and just 17% having three or four (compared to 14% and 30%, respectively, for those who are not members of a visible minority group). However, controlling for immigrant status reveals that this finding only holds true for visible minorities who are also immigrants. There was no statistically meaningful difference in the level of emergency planning activities reported by visible minority individuals (48%) and those who were not members of a visible minority group (47%) even after accounting for immigration status.
According to the SEPR, while the difference between Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal individuals in their employment of fire safety devices or in their emergency planning activities was not statistically significant, there were significant differences in their use of other precautionary measures (i.e., wind-up or battery-operated radios, alternate sources of heat, back-up generators and additional water supplies). While nearly four in ten Aboriginal persons (39%) resided in a household implementing a moderately high or high number of precautionary measures, this was less likely for non-Aboriginal individuals, with fewer than three in ten (27%) reporting this level of precautionary activity.
Individuals with activity-limiting, long-term emotional or psychological conditions engage in fewer emergency preparedness behaviours
Individuals who experienced long-term health conditions (i.e., lasting for 6 months or more) that limit their daily activities at least some of the time were less likely to have fire safety devices in their homes than those who did not experience these types of health conditions.Note 18 About one-third (32%) of those with a long-term emotional or psychological condition and 40% with a physical condition had smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers in their homes, compared to 44% of those who did not report either type of long-term health condition. Individuals with a long-term physical health condition did not differ significantly from those who did not experience one in terms of their usage of precautionary measures. However, those experiencing a long-term emotional or psychological condition (21%) were less likely to live in homes that employed moderately high or high numbers of precautionary measures (compared to 28% of those who did not have a mental health condition). Individuals reporting an emotional or psychological condition (41%) were also more likely to live in homes that have undertaken a smaller number of emergency planning activities compared to those who did not report having a mental health condition (48%).
Emergency preparedness behaviours less common among renters and those living alone
Home owners (i.e., those living in homes owned by themselves or by a member of their household) were nearly twice as likely as renters to have all three fire safety devices in their homes (47% versus 27%, respectively), and more than twice as likely to have taken three or four other precautionary measures (31% versus 13%, respectively). In fact, over one-quarter (27%) of renters had neither a non-electric radio, alternate source of heat, back-up generator nor a supplementary source of water. Home owners (48%) were also slightly more likely than renters (45%) to report households that engaged in a greater number of emergency planning activities.
The extent to which fire safety precautions were implemented in a household also varied by how many people lived there as well as who lived there. For instance, those living alone (30%) had a smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector and a fire extinguisher less often than those who lived with others (i.e., 43% of two-person households, 45% of three-person households, 47% of four-person households and 42% of households of five or more people). As well, individuals living in households with children (45%) reported having all three fire safety measures in their homes with a slightly greater frequency than those who did not have children in the home (42%).
Higher numbers of other types of precautionary measures were also more prevalent in the homes of individuals from larger households. Individuals from households of five or more people (32%) had at least three of the four precautionary measures specified (i.e., a non-electric radio, an alternate source of heat, an auxiliary generator and an additional source of water), twice as often as individuals living alone (16%). Similarly, higher levels of emergency planning were more often found among individuals from larger households, particularly those with five or more people (53%), compared to those from single-person households (41%).
Use of fire safety and other precautionary measures slightly lower for females
There were few notable differences between males and females and the types of emergency preparedness behaviours they displayed. Still, female Canadians (40%) were, to some extent, less likely than males (45%) to live in homes where all three fire safety measures were implemented. In addition, at 29%, the proportion of men in homes implementing a moderately high or high number of precautionary measures (excluding fire-related measures) was slightly higher than for women (25%). There was a small difference in the level of emergency planning activities between males and females. For males, 48% lived in households that engaged in a moderately high or high number of emergency planning activities, as did 46% of females. However this difference was not statistically meaningful.
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Emergency preparedness and previous experience with major emergencies and disasters
Some research to-date suggests that previous disaster experience may influence subsequent emergency preparedness behaviours. However, the exact nature of this impact is unclear (Tierney et al. 2001). Similarly, results from the 2014 SEPR were somewhat mixed when emergency preparedness behaviours were examined in conjunction with prior disaster experience. According to the SEPR, the impact of previous disaster experience on emergency planning activities was minimal. Those who, in their lifetime, had experienced a major emergency or disaster and those who had not reported similar proportions of moderately high or high levels of emergency planning activities among their households (47% of those who have experienced a disaster and 46% who had never experienced a disaster).
However, individuals with previous disaster experience were slightly more likely to live in households that had implemented all three fire safety devices (44%) and engaged in a moderately high or high number of precautionary behaviours (29%), compared to those who had not experienced a major emergency or disaster (at 41% and 25%, respectively).
Individuals with a strong sense of confidence in their ability to handle an emergency were more likely to engage in emergency preparedness behaviours
Prior research has linked self-efficacy, or one’s confidence in his or her own ability to handle a situation, to emergency preparedness (Tierney et al. 2001; Mishra et al. 2011; FEMA 2014). According to this research, a positive perception of one’s ability to successfully cope when confronted with an emergency is related to a greater sense of control over the situation which, in turn, motivates the individual to take actions that will prevent or mitigate the impacts of the emergency (Mishra et al. 2011; FEMA 2014).
According to the 2014 SEPR, most people felt confident about their own ability to manage in an emergency. Specifically, when asked to rate their self-efficacy in an emergency on a scale of one (poor) to five (excellent), nearly three-quarters (74%) of Canadians gave themselves a rating of excellent (29%) or near excellent (45%). Further, findings from the SEPR indicate that half of those with a strong sense of confidence in their ability to handle an emergency had engaged in at least three or four emergency planning activities, such as having an exit plan, an emergency supply kit, extra copies of important documents and an emergency contact list, compared to 37% of those with a lower sense of efficacy in an emergency. Similarly, for fire safety measures, nearly half (46%) of individuals who had rated their ability to manage an emergency as excellent or near excellent also reported having taken all three fire safety precautions (i.e., having a smoke detector, fire extinguisher and a carbon monoxide detector), compared to less than one-third (32%) of those with less confidence. These findings are consistent with previous research showing that those who reported a high sense of self-efficacy in an emergency also demonstrated emergency preparedness behaviours more often than those with lower levels of self-efficacy.
Household precautionary measures, such as having a wind-up or battery operated radio, back-up generator, and additional sources of heat and water were also somewhat more common among individuals with a higher sense of self-efficacy in an emergency. While 29% of those with a strong sense of their own ability to handle an emergency reported having taken three or four of these precautionary measures, a smaller proportion (21%) of those with a lower sense of self-efficacy had done so.
Social support associated with a greater sense of self-efficacy in emergencies
Results from the 2014 SEPR suggest that Canadians who had more people, such as family, friends and neighbours, that they could turn to for supportNote 19 if a major emergency were to occur, were also more likely to express higher levels of confidence in their own ability to handle an emergency situation. More precisely, 83% of individuals with a high degree of support in an emergency (i.e., they had more than 5 people they could turn to for assistance) rated their own ability to handle a crisis as excellent or near excellent, compared to 75% of those with a smaller social support network or no social support at all.
Those with a high degree of social support were proportionately more likely to have engaged in a greater number of emergency preparedness behaviours than those without that level of support. For example, one-quarter of individuals with a high degree of social support had an exit plan, an emergency supply kit, extra copies of important documents and an emergency contact list, compared to 18% of those with less support. This difference was similar to that found when comparing the presence of all three fire safety measures as well as household precautionary measuresNote 20 reported by those with and without extensive social support.Note 21
Research has shown that individuals are more likely to prepare for risks if they believe them to be imminent (Helsloot and Ruitenberg 2004; Murphy et al. 2009). Therefore, in order to more fully understand emergency and disaster preparedness among Canadians, it is important to better understand which risks they perceive are likely to affect them and their communities.
Winter storms and extended power outages were the most frequently named risks by Canadians
While a number of Canadians recognized a variety of natural disasters and weather-related events as potential hazards, human-induced disasters were also seen as possible threats. According to the 2014 SEPR, Canadians felt their communities were at greatest risk of facing winter storms (86%) and extended power outagesNote 22 (76%), followed by the outbreak of serious disease (51%), industrial or transportation accidents (50%), heat waves (49%), contamination or shortage of food or water (44%) and floods (42%) (Table 10).
Winter storms, including blizzards, ice storms and extreme cold, were the most commonly anticipated weather-related or natural disasters across most provinces, according to about nine in ten Canadians. The exception was those living in British Columbia, where earthquakes (77%) were most frequently identified as a potential risk. Given Canada’s immense geographic landscape and the wide array of weather conditions encountered from region to region, it is not surprising that aside from winter storms, there were a number of provincial variations on the types of natural and weather-related disasters Canadians expect their communities to experience. Wildfires were named as the second most common risk in New Brunswick (64%), Newfoundland and Labrador (61%), British Columbia (59%) and Alberta (51%), whereas floods were identified in Manitoba (65%), droughts in Saskatchewan (73%) and hurricanes in Nova Scotia (74%) and Prince Edward Island (56%). In Ontario, it was heat waves (57%), while in Quebec, heat waves (63%) and earthquakes (63%) tied as the second most frequently named weather-related or natural threat.
Text box 4
Canadian Disaster Database (CDD)
From 2000 to 2014, there were 268 ‘significant disaster events’, according to the Canadian Disaster Database (CDD) (see Text box 4 chart). The CDD tracks disasters directly affecting Canadians, from 1900 to present. The disasters recorded in the CDD must meet one or more of the following criteria: 10 or more people were killed in the event; 100 or more were affected/injured/infected/evacuated or homeless; an appeal for national or international assistance was made; the event was of historical significance; and/or the event resulted in significant damage or interruption of such that the community was unable to recover on its own. For more information, see the CDD at http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/cndn-dsstr-dtbs/index-eng.aspx.
There was more uniformity across the provinces, regarding the potential for hazards other than natural disasters. About three-quarters (76%) of individuals across Canada considered extended power outages as a prospective risk for their community and while the proportions varied in every province, extended power outages were seen as the next most common threat, after earthquakes in British Columbia and winter storms in the other provinces. Emergencies involving the outbreak of serious disease were named as a likely hazard by about half of those in each province, with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador (37%), Prince Edward Island (40%) and New Brunswick (44%), where the proportion was about four in ten for each. Similarly, industrial or transportation accidents involving hazardous materials were also considered to be a real possibility by about half of Canadians, especially those living in communities in Saskatchewan (62%) and Alberta (56%). However, concern over industrial or transportation spills was less prevalent in Newfoundland and Labrador (34%) and Prince Edward Island (37%), relative to Canadians living in other provinces.
Canadians expect to turn to news broadcasts as a first source of assistance during weather-related emergencies and natural disasters
Examining who people expect to turn to if an emergency were to occur could offer useful insights into the emergency-response behaviours of Canadians. The 2014 SEPR asked respondents to identify who they would turn to first for information or assistance in the event of a weather-related emergency or natural disaster.Note 23 While there was not one, single source of information or assistance that was overwhelmingly identified by individuals, the news, via radio, television or Internet was the most frequently named source.
According to the SEPR, in a natural or weather-related disaster, more than one-quarter (26%) of Canadians in the provinces would first listen to the news on the radio for information or help (Table 11). About one in five (21%) would watch the news on television and a similar proportion would seek out news sites on the Internet (20%). Notably, less than 1% listed the newspaper as an initial source of information or assistance and despite the general rise in the popularity of social media (Statistics Canada 2013b) this format constituted less than 2% of responses.
The local government (i.e., municipal services) followed the news as the next most likely source of information or assistance in a weather emergency or natural disaster, according to the SEPR. Overall, about one in seven Canadians (15%) stated that their local government would be the first point of contact for information or help, followed closely by police (13%), family (12%) or 9-1-1 services (11%).
Reliance on police, 9-1-1 services and local government more common in Quebec
There was some variation across the provinces in terms of the sources of information and assistance people would look to first in a weather-related emergency or natural disaster, particularly in Quebec. In Quebec, individuals anticipated initially relying on the news less often (e.g., 10% would listen to the news on the radio) than those in other provinces, but more often expected to turn to the local government (26%), police (25%) and 9-1-1 services (21%).
For human-induced emergencies, initial sources of help and information varied depending on the type of event
In addition to weather-related and natural disasters, Canadians from across the provinces were also questioned about the initial sources of information and assistance they anticipated utilizing in other types of emergencies, including power outages, industrial accidents and outbreaks of serious life-threatening illness. Not surprisingly, the utility company was identified as the first source of information during a power outage, named by nearly half (48%) of Canadians, while listening to the news over the radio was the next most frequently named option (16%) (Table 11).
As might be expected, individuals most often identified hospitals, clinics, doctors or other medical professionals (51%) as the top choices for information and help during an outbreak of serious illness or life-threatening disease. Still, about one in six indicated that they would first turn to news outlets via the television (17%), Internet (17%) or radio (16%), for information in the event of such an outbreak.
For industrial or transportation accidents, about one-quarter (24%) of Canadians across the provinces indicated that they would likely first listen to the news on the radio for information, making it the most common response provided. Watching the news on television (19%), contacting police (19%), and searching for news on-line (18%) were also each reported by about one person in five. For emergencies involving the contamination or shortage of water or food, local governments were most frequently considered as a first line of assistance (40%), according to SEPR, followed by the news, delivered either by radio (15%), television (14%), or on-line (13%).
In the event of a terrorist act or threat, people stated that they would most likely contact police (33%), watch the television news (24%) or listen to the news on the radio (23%) to initially gain information or assistance. Similarly, in emergencies related to rioting or civil unrest, individuals indicated that they would first seek information or help from the police (40%), followed by the news, either on television (19%); the radio (17%) or via the Internet (16%). About one in seven (15%) reported that they would call 9-1-1.
There are a number of socio-demographic factors including age, level of education, household income, immigration status, as well as previous experience with a disaster, which may play a role in determining the information sources individuals will choose to rely on during an emergency (Tierney et al. 2001). As one U.S. study on the use of media during disasters concluded, there is no single, best strategy for communicating disaster information, rather, the dissemination of information needs to take into consideration the demographic differences of the target audience and should use a variety of sources and forms (Liu et al. 2014). Given that weather-related emergencies and natural disasters are generally the most common types of anticipated risks, the following section examines socio-demographic characteristics in relation to the source of information or assistance individuals anticipated turning to first, specifically in weather-related emergencies and natural disasters.
Youth and younger adults would turn to family, older adults to the news in a weather-related emergency or natural disaster
In the event of a weather emergency or natural disaster, youth and younger people most often expected to rely on family first for assistance, while older adults reported that they would likely turn to the news (whether by radio, TV or the Internet). More specifically, listening to the news on the radio was the first choice for one-third of adults aged 45 to 64; a proportion notably higher than that of younger age groups (13% for 15- to 24-year olds and 19% for 25- to 34-year-olds). Television news was generally the most common ‘would-be’ source of information identified by adults aged 35 and over, particularly 45- to 54-year-olds (25%), but was less popular among younger age groups, particularly those aged 15 to 24 years (14%). Searching for news on-line was the most frequently cited source of information named among adults aged 25 to 34 (29%) and 35 to 44 (27%), while older adults, aged 55 to 64 (13%) and seniors (aged 65 and over) (7%) were the least likely age group to rely on this medium as their first source of information.
Recent immigrants facing a weather emergency or natural disaster expect to first call 9-1-1
For both Canadian-born individuals (28%) and established immigrants (28%), listening to the news on the radio and watching it on television (21% for those born in Canada and 25% for established immigrants) would be the most likely sources of initial information and assistance in a weather emergency or natural disaster. However, for recent immigrants, calling 9-1-1 was the most commonly mentioned source (26%).Note 24 The proportion of recent immigrants who anticipated relying on the radio (9%) as their first source of information was notably smaller than for established immigrants and individuals born in Canada. A smaller proportion of recent immigrants (17%) than established immigrants anticipated relying on television as their first source of information, but this proportion was not too different from individuals born in Canada. When it came to searching for news on-line – about one in four recent immigrants (26%) and one in five established immigrants (18%) and Canadian-born individuals (20%) indicated that they expect to use this method.
Aboriginal status and visible minority group membership were also examined. On the whole, findings for Aboriginal people and visible minority group members were similar to trends found for the overall population. Turning to the news via radio, television and Internet were the top three sources of disaster information for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, at relatively similar proportions. However, whereas local government was the fourth most common information source for non-Aboriginal individuals (15%), Aboriginal people instead cited family (16%).Note 25
In a weather-related emergency or natural disaster, members of visible minority groups most often expected to turn to the news either by radio, television or on-line, similar to those who were not visible minorities. However, the proportion of visible minorities indicating that they would seek out assistance from 9-1-1- services (18%) was nearly double that of those who are not visible minority group members (10%).
Individuals with higher levels of education more likely to rely on the news as their first source of information and help
Results from the 2014 SEPR suggest that education, particularly lower levels of formal training, seems to have some bearing on the types of information sources people expect to turn to in emergencies. In a natural or weather-related disaster, those who had not completed high school, were proportionately more likely than those with higher levels of formal education, to indicate that they would initially seek out information and assistance from family (22%), followed by the police (16%), and would be less likely to consider getting it from the news (15% by radio, 14% by television, 11% by Internet). However, some of these differences may be a function of age, with younger individuals being less likely to have completed their formal education.
Controlling for age, the effect of education on differences in the likelihood of turning to family and the police first diminished, but remained when it came to seeing the radio, television or on-line news as an initial information source in a weather-related emergency or natural disaster. For example, among adults aged 35 to 44, those with a bachelor’s degree or higher indicated that listening to the news on the radio would be the first source of help in a weather-related emergency or natural disaster about twice as often as those who had not completed high school.
Individuals from lower-income households would turn to the news less often and were more likely to anticipate relying on police, 9-1-1 and first responders
Canadians living in households with an annual income of $150,000 or more were about twice as likely as those from households earning less than $20,000 to report that they would first seek information from the news via the television (26%) or the radio (33%), and were over three times as likely to indicate they would turn to the Internet for news (29%).Note 26 Conversely, individuals from households in the lowest income group were about twice as likely as those in the highest group, to identify the police (17%), 9-1-1 (13%) and first responders (9%E)Note 27 as potential first contacts for help or information in the event of a weather emergency or natural disaster.Note 28
Previous experience with an emergency influences anticipated sources for help and information in future emergencies
Prior experience with an emergency may influence how a person responds when confronted with an emergency situation in the future (Helsloot and Ruitenberg 2004). According to findings from the 2014 SEPR, those who had experienced some type of emergency in the past did display a greater preference for relying on the news initially, for information and assistance in the event of a weather-related emergency or natural disaster. Specifically, those who had previously experienced an emergency were more likely to report that they would listen to the news on the radio (31%) or search for news on-line (22%) than were individuals who did not have any prior emergency experience (21% and 17%, respectively).
Past studies highlight the significant role social attachments and relationships play in influencing emergency preparedness and response behaviours in an emergency context (Tierney et al. 2001). Moreover, findings from the 2014 SEPR reveal that while most often individuals expected to obtain initial information and assistance from news outlets, according to those who actually experienced a major emergency, help during or in the immediate aftermath, came from someone they knew (i.e., family and neighbours, followed by friends).Note 29 Thus the strength of people’s social support network may be a key component to their resilience in an emergency situation.
Large majority have at least one person to rely on in an emergency
Results from the SEPR show that just over one-quarter (26%) of Canadians were living in the same community with all or most of their relativesNote 30 and two-thirds shared a community with at least some family members. Additionally, 87% of individuals had at least some friends living in their community. Moreover, the survey found that the vast majority of individuals from across the provinces had at least one person they could rely on in an emergency, whether it was for emotional support (95%); assistance in the case of a physical injury (94%); a place to stay (94%); or financial help (83%) (Chart 4).
In particular, the availability of emotional support and assistance during a physical injury seemed to be greatest, with about six out of ten Canadians across the provinces reporting more than five people in their social network that they could count on in this manner. Many people also had a number of options if they ever needed to evacuate their homes in an emergency, with 54% indicating that there were more than five people they could turn to for shelter. Emergency financial support, however, was somewhat more difficult to come by, with just 24% indicating that there were more than five people they could turn to for financial help. Still, more than half of individuals reported having one to five people that could assist them financially in an emergency.
A relatively small proportion of individuals had no one to turn to for help, if faced with an emergency involving a physical injury, need for emotional support or a place to stay. According to the SEPR, about 1% to 2% (or approximately 378,000 to 590,000 people) said that they had no one to rely on for assistance if they were physically injured, needed emotional support or shelter in an emergency. However, for financial help, this figure rose to 10%. Some segments of the population reported that they had no one they could turn to for financial support in an emergency more frequently than others, such as older adults aged 55 and over (16%); those who were separated or divorced (15%); immigrants (15%); individuals with activity-limiting physical (16%) or mental (15%) health conditions; and those living in homes with annual household incomes below $20,000 (19%).
Overall, about one in five (21%) Canadians had what could be described as a high degree of social support – that is, more than five people they could turn to for help in each of the four types of emergency situations mentioned above. This proportion was slightly higher in most Atlantic provinces and in Saskatchewan. Quebecers had the lowest proportion of individuals with a high level of emergency support, compared to those living in other provinces (Chart 5).
There are a variety of factors that can impact the size of one’s social network (Sinha 2014). Findings from the 2014 SEPR indicate that having a high degree of social support (i.e., more than five people to turn to for either emotional support, assistance with a physical injury, shelter or financial help) in an emergency varied by such socio-demographic characteristics as age, marital status, immigration status, the presence of an activity-limiting health condition, and household income.
Seniors less likely to have large social support networks to turn to in an emergency
Seniors aged 65 and over, in particular, were proportionately less likely to have a large number of people to turn to for help, relative to youth and younger adults. One-quarter of those aged 15 to 34 reported having at least five people they could reach out to for help in an emergency, compared to only 13% of seniors (Table 12).
Those who were married or living common-law (22%) or were single (22%) had a higher degree of social support than individuals who were separated, divorced or widowed (15%, respectively). However, the difference observed for widowed individuals is largely due to age, as 78% of widowed individuals are also seniors.Note 31
High levels of social support for emergency situations less common for immigrants
Immigrants also seemed to have less social support in an emergency, compared to non-immigrants. Close to one-quarter (24%) of individuals who were born in Canada indicated that in the event of an emergency there were more than five people they could turn to if they required emotional support, were hurt, needed a place to stay or needed help financially. However, this figure was notably smaller for immigrants (both established and recent). For example, 15%E of recent immigrants and 16% of immigrants who had arrived in Canada more than 10 years ago reported having high degrees of social support compared to 24% of those born in Canada.Note 32
Moreover, since a significant proportion of visible minorities are also immigrants (Statistics Canada 2013a), immigrant status may play a role in the differential levels of support observed between those who were members of a visible minority (17% of whom had high levels of social support), versus those who were not part of a visible minority group (23% of whom had this level of support). Indeed, when immigrant status is taken into account, the differences by visible minority status diminish. Among Canadian-born individuals, those who were members of a visible minority and those who were not reported having a high degree of social support in an emergency to virtually the same extent (24% and 23%, respectively).
Individuals living with an activity-limiting health condition and those in lower-income households report less social support for emergencies
Individuals who frequently experience limitations to their daily activities, at home, at work, at school or elsewhere, due to a health condition also experienced lower levels of social support in an emergency. For example, high levels of social support were reported by 18% of those with a long-term physical condition (lasting for 6 months or more) and 18% of individuals with a long-term emotional or psychological condition, as compared to nearly one-quarter of those who did not have such health concerns (23% and 22%, respectively).
Having a high level of social support in an emergency also increased with household income. Just over one in ten individuals (13%) from households with the lowest annual earnings (less than $20,000) had more than five people they could turn to in an emergency if they needed emotional comfort, shelter, help if they were injured or needed financial assistance. However, among those in households with earnings of $150,000 or more, the proportion rises to nearly three in ten (28%).
According to results from the 2014 SEPR, the use of fire safety measures was quite common among Canadians, particularly having smoke detectors. Still, fewer than half of individuals lived in a household with all three fire safety devices, that is, a working smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector and fire extinguisher.
A number of Canadians also resided in households that took additional precautionary actions such as having a non-electric radio (58%), alternate sources of heat (48%), water (43%) and electricity (23%). Moreover, eight in ten (82%) adopted one or more of these types of precautions.
Beyond fire safety and other precautionary measures, many live in households that have developed plans or engaged in planning activities, such as preparing an emergency contact list (69%), creating an emergency escape plan for their home (60%), devising a contact plan for getting in touch with household members if separated in an emergency (55%), and keeping extra copies of important documents (53%). Most (98%) people lived in households that had participated in at least one of a variety of planning activities. Nevertheless, fewer than half (47%) of individuals indicated that their household engaged in what could be described as a moderately high or high number of emergency planning activities.
Levels of emergency preparedness – be they related to fire safety measures, other precautionary actions or emergency planning activities – differed across the provinces and by a number of important socio-demographic characteristics. In particular, adults in their mid-twenties to early thirties and individuals from lower-income households were more likely to reside in a home that used fewer fire safety and precautionary measures and engaged in fewer emergency planning activities. Recent immigrants, visible minorities, those with a long-term mental health condition, renters and individuals living in smaller households also tended to exhibit lower levels of preparedness.
Despite some gaps in preparedness, most Canadians felt confident that they would be able to figure out what to do if confronted with an emergency. Findings from the SEPR suggest that this confidence may be related to an individual’s level of emergency preparedness and the strength of the social support network available to him or her in an emergency.
Results from the SEPR also demonstrate that many individuals from across Canada’s provinces are aware of a number of weather-related emergencies, natural disasters and human-induced hazards that could potentially affect their community. Generally, individuals appear to be most inclined to turn to the news as a first source of assistance in an emergency. However, this choice may vary depending on the type of event, the province where the individual lives and other socio-demographic characteristics including age, immigration status, education and household income, as well as previous experience with an emergency.
During and following an emergency, people have often relied on those they know, namely family, neighbours and friends, for help. Nevertheless, while many Canadians have such support networks, not all do. Moreover, there are a number of socio-demographic factors related to the level of social support an individual has access to in an emergency. Large social support networks were less common among seniors, immigrants, individuals with an activity-limiting health condition and those from lower-income households.
This report is based on the Survey of Emergency Preparedness and Resilience in Canada (SEPR). The SEPR is a new survey that was conducted by Statistics Canada for the first time from January to June 2014. Developed in partnership with Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science and Public Safety Canada, and in consultation with experts in the field of emergency management and community resilience, the purpose of the SEPR is to improve the understanding of community resilience across Canada’s provinces. Data were collected on factors that affect how well individuals and communities are able to prepare for, prevent, respond to and recover from major emergencies or disasters. The main objective of the survey is to provide estimates of emergency preparedness and resilience at the community, provincial and national levels.
The target population for the SEPR included all persons 15 years of age or older, residing in Canada’s 10 provinces, excluding full-time residents of institutions. This voluntary survey was conducted via the telephone, using a Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) system. Therefore, persons living in households without telephone service (approximately 1%), were also excluded. One individual per household, 15 years of age or older was randomly selected to complete the survey. The overall response rate for the SEPR was 53%. The sample size for the SEPR was 72,953 with a total of 32,171 completed surveys. Respondents in the sample were weighted so that their responses represent the non-institutionalized Canadian population aged 15 years or over, in the 10 provinces.
Data for SEPR were collected only from Canadians living in the 10 provinces, and therefore, results are not representative of the Canadian territories. However, a separate feasibility study was undertaken in 2014 to help determine the appropriate content and best method of collecting information on emergency preparedness and community resilience the territories. The SEPR also does not include Canadians who do not have a working telephone, or full-time residents of institutions. In addition, certain populations which may be considered vulnerable or in greater need of support in emergency or disaster situations, are not included. Such populations include the homeless, residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
The SEPR is a sample survey. Consequently, due to the nature of sampling surveys, the results produced are subject to sampling error. Somewhat different results might have been obtained if the entire population had been surveyed. This report uses the coefficient of variation (CV) as a measure of the sampling error. Any estimate that has a high CV (over 33.3%) has not been published because the estimate is too unreliable. In these cases, the symbol 'F' is used in place of an estimate in the figures and data tables. An estimate that has a CV between 16.6% and 33.3% should be used with caution and the symbol 'E' is referenced with the estimate. Where descriptive statistics and cross-tabular analysis were used, statistically significant differences were determined using hypothesis tests with a 5% significance level (i.e., the probability of incorrectly concluding that the estimates are different is at most 5%).
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