I always thought that the disaster route signs posted beside some of our highways indicated the route that people would take if they had to evacuate during a disaster or major emergency. I was mistaken in my belief as these signs actually indicate routes that may only be used by emergency services consisting of police, fire, ambulance and other responders that have been issued with placards to identify their vehicles.
The idea is to provide efficient response for resources to get to where they are needed the most. Disaster routes will be the first highways to be cleared in the event of an emergency. Police will limit their use to emergency responders only for the duration of the incident. As soon as possible, these roads will be re-opened for use by the general public.
The entire system will not be automatically activated in the event of a disaster unless it is necessary. It is possible that only one route or part of a route will be needed and the rest will remain available for the use of the general public. Closure is meant to be flexible according to need and may change during an incident.
If you use a disaster response route in your daily travel, learn an alternate route that you can use if an emergency is declared. Should an emergency occur, listen to the local media services for information on which routes have been activated and use the alternate until advised otherwise. You will be helping others in time of need by taking this minor inconvenience on yourself.
Unless there is an immediate threat to you during the disaster, the Disaster Response Route web site claims that you are better off to spend the first 72 hours sheltered in your home. Please visit the Provincial Emergency Program web site for more information on how to prepare to do this.