With a plan and preparations in place, it is also important to stay aware of any emergencies that may unfold, or be unfolding so you can react appropriately. Advanced notification of a potential emergency can make all the difference.

It is also important to have knowledge of potential hazards, allowing you to appropriately prepare for, and react to, an emergency.

Emergency notifications

You can receive notification of an emergency in several ways, including the Sarnia-Lambton Alerts app and Community Notification Sirens.

Sarnia-Lambton Alerts

Sarnia-Lambton Alerts is a community notification system that can contact subscribers through a method of their choice, such as telephones, cell phones, email and text messages. Subscribers will receive critical emergency messages about tornados, industrial incidents and boil water advisories. This system enables us to provide you with critical information quickly in a variety of situations, such as severe weather, unexpected road closures, missing persons, and evacuations of buildings or neighborhoods.

To learn more, including how to download, visit our Sarnia-Lambton Alerts app page.

Community Notification Sirens

There are 15 community notification sirens located in Sarnia and the surrounding area. The sirens provide a community-wide auditory warning of emergencies such as industrial accidents and tornados.

The City tests its alarms every Monday at 12:30 p.m. for 30 seconds.

In the event of an emergency the sirens will sounds for nine minutes. If you hear a siren immediately shelter in place:

  • Go indoors immediately and stay there
  • Close all windows and doors
  • Turn off furnace, air conditioners and other exhaust systems
  • Only dial 9-1-1 in an emergency
  • Close all vents and dampers
  • Monitor radio, the City website, and social media for more information

Weather Alerts

Staying informed of potential extreme weather events can help you protect yourself, your family and your property from impacts, including if an emergency develops.

You can sign up for Environment Canada Weather Alerts by downloading the Environment Canada WeatherCAN app.

Know the hazards

Emergency situations can be caused by a variety of different hazards. Having knowledge of these hazards can help you mitigate their potential impacts, and respond appropriately in the case of an emergency.

Learn more about emergency hazards by downloading our Home Emergency Preparedness Guide.

Hazardous Material Incidents

Hazardous material incidents occur with the accidental release of material that is harmful to humans, animals, plants, or the environment due to its explosive, flammable, combustible, corrosive, oxidizing, toxic, infectious or radioactive properties.

During a hazardous materials incident:

  • Stay away from the area
  • Seek shelter away from odour, gas clouds or spills
  • Follow directions of emergency responders
  • If outside hold a cloth over your nose or mouth
  • Keep track of any possible health impacts, report them to a physician

In the case of a large-scale incident residents may be asked to shelter in place, or evacuate.

If authorities notify you to shelter in place, you should:

  • Remain inside, close all windows and doors
  • Use the home 72-hour emergency kit if needed
  • Use radio or check local news for updates
  • If an evacuation is ordered, you should:

Take the home 72-hour emergency kit

  • Lock home windows and doors
  • If instructed, turn off power, water and gas
  • Leave a note on the door with information on where you are headed
  • Follow recommended evacuation routes if available
  • Check on neighbours and assist individuals with disabilities or other special needs
  • Do not leave any pets behind


Flooding can often impact the basement of your home. To learn more about basement flooding visit our Basement Flooding page.

You can prepare for a flood and reduce the likelihood of damage by:

  • Applying weather-protection sealant around basement windows, and the base of ground-level doors
  • Installing drainage for downspouts away from building foundations
  • Installing sump pumps and zero reverse flow valves in basement floor drains
  • Storing important documents in higher levels of the house, above potential flood waters

If a flood is forecast, you should:

  • Turn off basement furnaces and the outside gas valve
  • Take precautions to safeguard electrical, natural gas or propane heating equipment
  • Consult your electrical or fuel supplier for instructions on next steps if time allows

If flooding is imminent, you should:

  • Move furniture, appliances and other belongings to floors above ground level
  • Remove toxic substances from the flood area
  • Remove toilet bowls, plug basement sewer drains and toilet drains with a wooden stopper
  • Disconnect eavestroughs that are connected to the house sewer
  • Protect homes with sandbags and polyethylene barriers only with specific instructions from local emergency officials

Under no circumstance should you attempt to shut off electricity if water is present. Water and live electricity make a lethal combination, leave your home immediately and do not return until it is deemed safe by authorities.


Tornados are a rotating column of air, forming a funnel cloud that can touch down and cause destruction on the ground.

Tornados usually occur between May and September, in the afternoon or early evening. They can move at speeds of more than 70 km per hour, leaving long paths of destruction, uprooting trees, tossing cars and demolishing houses.

Individuals should remain aware of weather conditions and warnings, seeking shelter immediately if a warning has been issued or it is believed a tornado could occur.

If indoors, you should:

  • Ride out the storm in an underground shelter, basement or safe room
  • If there is no underground option such as a basement, shelter in the centre of an interior room on the lowest level of the building, stay clear of corners, windows, doors and outside walls
  • Get under a sturdy piece of furniture, use your arms to protect the head and neck
  • Keep windows shut

If outdoors, you should:

  • Not wait until the tornado is in sight to seek shelter indoors
  • Lie in a flat ditch and cover your head if indoor shelter is not possible
  • Avoid sheltering under an overpass or bridge, low flat areas are safer

After a tornado:

  • Check on family and neighbours
  • Call 9-1-1 if individuals are trapped or injured
  • Avoid damaged areas
  • Call in downed or damaged power lines or gas leaks to 9-1-1
  • Call 519.332.0330 (519.344.8861 after hours) for damaged water mains and sewer lines
  • Avoid driving, debris and damaged infrastructure can make driving dangerous

Health Emergencies: Pandemics and Epidemics

Infectious disease outbreaks that are widespread can present a danger to the general health  and well-being of residents. Such outbreaks can be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or  fungi. Diseases can be passed from person to person, or acquired through the environment.

Local public health units, like Lambton Public Health, oversee response to pandemics and epidemics locally. During a pandemic important updates and direction will be provided by your local public health unit.

When facing an epidemic or pandemic you should wash your hands often with soap and water for about 15 seconds, especially before and after:

  • Eating
  • Visiting public places
  • Using the bathroom
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Touching shared surfaces

Here are some additional precautions you can take:

  • Stay healthy by eating well, drinking plenty of water, getting adequate rest, and regularly exercising
  • Get the annual flu shot
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Keeping your distance from others if sick
  • Staying home from work, school and errands when sick
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing

Snowstorms and Blizzards

Snowfall warnings are issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada when snowfall of 15 centimeters or more is expected in a period of 12 hours or less.

During a snowstorm or blizzard:

  • Avoid unnecessary travel
  • Wear layers of lightweight clothing, mittens, and a hat, preferably one that covers the ears
  • Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep feet warm and dry while preventing slips and falls on ice or snow
  • Regularly check for frostbite, looking for numbness and/or white areas on the face and body
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow by taking frequent breaks
  • Bring pets inside and move livestock to sheltered areas with unfrozen drinking water
  • Ensure your home emergency kit is stocked with important medications ahead of time

Freezing Rain and Ice Storms

A few safety tips for freezing rain:

  • Avoid unnecessary travel
  • Turn to radio or television for weather reports and emergency information
  • Turn household taps to slightly open, even a trickle of running water helps prevent pipes from freezing
  • Wear layers of lightweight clothing, mittens and a hat, preferably one that covers the ears
  • Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep feet warm and dry while preventing slips and falls on ice or snow
  • Regularly check for frostbite, looking for numbness or white areas on the face and body
  • Bring pets inside and move livestock to sheltered areas with unfrozen drinking water

Explosions and Fires

Review these tips to prevent fires and explosions and be prepared if they do occur:

  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, change batteries immediately if needed
  • Check fire extinguishers
  • Check for overloaded or damaged extension cords and replace them where needed
  • Ensure emergency kits are up to date and stocked
  • Practice a household fire escape plan before an emergency occurs
  • Ensure home windows open and close properly
  • Check and clean filters above the stove
  • Vacuum or dust the coils on refrigerators
  • Always keeps stairs and landings clear to ensure a safe evacuation if needed

Transportation Emergencies

Transportation emergencies can be caused by:

  • Crashes involving objects or other vehicles
  • Poor road conditions
  • Human error
  • Technological error
  • Inclement weather creating poor driving conditions

Road transportation emergency safety tips:

  • Avoid the area
  • Yield or pull over for responding emergency vehicles
  • Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle

Sometimes transportation emergencies involve other hazards, such as hazardous material incidents.

Rail Transportation Emergencies

These emergencies can be caused by:

  • A train derailment
  • Environmental hazards such as storms, high winds or wild-land fires endangering a train
  • Train collisions with other trains, vehicles, objects or people
  • Track-related circumstances such as buckling of tracks, broken rails, and track geometry problems
  • Equipment-related circumstances such as broken wheels; bearing and axle failures; and component failures
  • Operational circumstances such as operating violations, technological and human error

Safety tips for rail transportation emergencies:

  • Avoid the area
  • Yield or pullover for responding emergency vehicles

Sometimes transportation emergencies involve other hazards, such as hazardous material incidents.

Critical Infrastructure Disruptions

These emergencies involve networks of institutions, services, systems and processes that meet vital human needs, sustain the economy, protect public safety, and maintain continuity of government.

In instances of critical infrastructure disruption you should be prepared to cope on your own for 72 hours. Having a well-stocked emergency kit, and emergency plan are crucial.

Critical infrastructure sectors include:

  • Food and water
  • Electrical power systems
  • Gas and oil
  • Transportation networks
  • Health systems
  • Telecommunications systems
  • Financial services
  • Public safety and security
  • Continuity of government