Leaving your home because of an emergency is upsetting and it is easy to forget important details for helping yourself. Here are some things that may help you:

  • Contact family and friends to let them know you are safe.
  • Contact your insurance company immediately.
  • Make plans for food, shelter and clothing – contact family and friends to see if they can help.
  • Tell your employer or school what your situation is.
  • Cancel appointments.
  • Tell your children’s school what happened.

Toronto Emergency Management can provide emergency help to people forced to leave their home because of an emergency.

Help might include an assessment and referral to services you might need like help with food, shelter, clothes, transportation, finding your family and emotional support.

Sometimes a place (reception centre) may be set up nearby where you can get more information about available services. Staff will be able to direct you to the correct place for more help.

Keeping You Updated

Staff will do their best to give you up-to-date information. They know that keeping you informed will help you with frustration, anger or anxiety you might be feeling.

If you have insurance, it may cover the cost of your immediate needs. If you don’t have insurance, or are having difficulty accessing insurance coverage, the City of Toronto can make sure you have a short-term place to stay.*

There is also help with food, clothes, transportation, finding your family and emotional support if you need it. You’ll have to fill out a registration form to get the services. The people at the reception centre will help you.

Emergency Accommodation for Service Animals and Pets

If you do not have a place to stay, City staff will try to find you a place where you can stay with your pet(s).

Not all places let you take your pet(s) so people with guide or service animals get priority. Your pets might need to stay at a kennel or a veterinarian until you can stay together again.

* Accommodation assistance can be arranged for up to 14 days. Extended assistance may be available beyond 14 days, if you meet the criteria. The criteria is based on the low income cut off (annual income before taxes as established by Statistics Canada).

While it’s natural to feel anxious after a crisis, it’s important to take care of yourself. You can help yourself by talking to others, asking for help when you need it and sharing information about assistance and resources.

You can help others by being patient when stress causes them to be short tempered or irritable. If you or someone in your family has a very difficult reaction or your reaction continues for a long time, it’s important to get help. Staff can assist you with locating the correct resources to help you.

After an emergency:

  • Check in and around your home for damage.
  • Dispose of any spoiled or contaminated foods, especially after a power outage. If you’re not sure, throw it out.
  • Encourage family members to talk about their experience and their feelings, especially children.
  • Contact other family members to let them know that you are safe.

Check for Damaged Utilities

Natural Gas

Natural gas is colourless, odourless and non-poisonous. Natural gas has no odour so a rotten egg smell is added for your safety. If you smell natural gas:

  • Open doors and windows.
  • Call Enbridge Gas Distribution at 1-866-763-5427.
  • Don’t use your telephone or cellular phone. Call from a neighbour’s phone.
  • Don’t turn any electrical switches, appliances or computers on or off.
  • Don’t smoke or use lighters or matches, or start any motors near the leak.


Check for damage such as frayed wires, sparks or the smell of hot insulation:

  • Don’t operate electrical switches or appliances.
  • Turn off the system at the main fuse box/breaker panel.


Check for leaks:

  • Shut off water at the main valve where the water pipe enters your home.

Do not turn on the gas, electricity or water until your utility provider has investigated and confirmed that it is safe to do so.