What to do after an emergency - Immediate needs

Some emergencies make it unsafe for you to go back into your home. The process to repair and restore your life after an emergency or disaster is not easy. It takes time, flexibility and patience. For your health and safety, we offer this advice to help you recover.

Get help for bigger community-wide disasters

1. Find a place to stay, food and clothing


  • Contact friends and family. Let them know what has happened, how you’re doing and how they can support you.
  • Contact your insurance company. They may be able to pay for emergency lodging and living expenses. Keep any receipts related to your incident.
  • If you do not have insurance or can’t pay for a place to stay, Red Cross 1-888-800-6493 can help you for the first 72 hours (3 days) – if you’ve been given a Calgary Fire Department incident number, have it ready.
  • Make sure your pets are cared for. The Calgary Humane Society offers emergency boarding if needed.
  • If you rent, inform your building owner/landlord.


  • It may take a while before you can return home. Make sure you have somewhere to stay potentially for a long period of time.


  • Call 211 for a list of resources.
  • Calgary Firefighters Charitable Foundation Support After Fire & Emergency (SAFE) Program 587-971-SAFE (7233).

2. Contact your insurance company

Your insurance company can help action the next steps. They can:

  • Start your insurance claim.
  • Help you find a temporary place to stay.
  • Arrange to secure your property to prevent further loss.
  • Keep you updated on the status of your home and any repairs.

If you don’t have insurance, you may be able to get help from Red Cross 1-888-800-6493, family members or other organizations.

3. Make a list of your essential items

During the incident, the Calgary Fire Department (CFD) takes control of your property. Do not enter your home until CFD or your insurance company tell you it is safe to do so. If there is a lot of damage, you may not be allowed back inside at all.

If you don’t have these items with you, consider getting replacements.

  • Personal identification
  • Legal documents (contact your lawyer or the service who issued them to replace)
  • Insurance documents (contact your insurance company to replace)
  • Cell phone and charger (contact your phone company)
  • Credit cards and banking cards (contact your bank)
  • Medication – do not take medicine that has been exposed to smoke, water, heat or chemicals (contact your doctor or pharmacist to replace)
  • Eyeglasses, medical aids (contact your doctors to replace)
  • Pet supplies (make sure your pet can be cared for)

If you are unable to connect with your insurance provider, make sure your property can be properly secured to avoid further damages or loss. Talk to a security company to arrange for fencing, personnel, etc. Keep any receipts in case your insurance company can reimburse you.

4. Once you're settled

  • The incident will be investigated to understand what happened. Tell investigators and evaluators as much detail as you can.
  • Stay in touch with your insurance provider. They can help with their processes and update you on progress.
  • Talk to your community for support (family, community, schools, work, religious organizations). Think about your daily activities and how you might need to make temporary changes to them.

Note: The emergency may have increased attention around your home. Be prepared for increased activity on your street, investigators, service vehicles, service workers and curious onlookers.

Find tips for the next stage of recovery