Prepare for Emergencies at Home and on the Road
It’s something that no one likes to think about, but the truth is that emergencies can strike at any moment. The best way to prepare yourself in case of an emergency is to make sure you and your loved ones have an action plan, and enough supplies to last you a couple of days. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way at home or on the road.
Make a Plan
- When it comes to disasters, preparation is the best defense. Because emergencies often take place when we least expect them, there’s always a chance that you won’t be with your loved ones when disaster strikes. That’s why it’s so important to designate an emergency meeting area to meet if you’re separated. It’s also a good idea to discuss how you’ll contact each other if something happens.
- Practice emergency drills with the entire family on a regular basis, and update your emergency plan annually. Remember to change the batteries in your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector. Work with your neighbours to identify people who may need extra help in an emergency and assign “block buddies” to ensure everyone is taken care of. The Government of Canada offers resources for emergency planning at GetPrepared.ca.
Make an Emergency Kit
Keep an emergency kit on hand that will last your entire family for at least 72 hours and make sure everyone in your home knows where it is. The key is for it to be easy to find (even in the dark), and easy to carry. If the kit is too heavy, break it into portable grab and go packs.
Aim to have as many of the following items in your kit as possible:
- Drinking water – 1 litre per person per day
- Canned, dehydrated or non-perishable foods
- Flashlights with batteries or wind-up or glow sticks
- A first aid kit
- Candles, a lighter, and waterproof matches
- A non-electric radio
- Extra blankets
- Extra house and car keys
- Some cash in smaller bills, such as $10 bills and change for payphones
- A copy of your emergency plan and contact information
- If applicable, other items such as prescription medication, infant formula, equipment for people with disabilities, or food, water and medication for your pets or service animal (personalize according to your needs)
Make sure your kit is easily accessible in your home but keep a kit in your car as well. Check your emergency kit periodically for expired items and to replace perishable items such as batteries. Ideally, you should try to restock your emergency kit annually .
Prepare Your Home
In case of an emergency, you’ll want to make sure your home is a safe and accommodating place for you and your family. Here’s a list of precautions you can take to safeguard your home:
- Know all possible exits from each room
- Know how to turn off your home’s water, electricity and gas (make large, easy-to-see signs for water and gas shut-offs and electrical panels)
- Keep a corded phone in your home, as most cordless phones will not work during a power outage
- Secure tall furniture such as bookcases to the wall so they don’t topple over in an earthquake
- Store heavy items on lower shelves and cabinets
- Make copies of important documents (birth, marriage certificates, passports, licenses, wills, insurance etc.) Keep these in a safe place, both inside and outside your home (e.g. digital cloud)
- Teach children how and when to dial 9-1-1
Prepare Your Vehicle
Along with the emergency kit you keep at home, it’s also a good idea to prepare a small kit with different supplies that you can keep in your vehicle. A basic kit road safety kit should include:
- A safety vest
- Reflective triangles
- A blanket
- A candle in a deep can and matches
- Extra clothing and shoes
- A first aid kit with a seatbelt cutter
- A flashlight (crank or battery-powered)
- Food with a longer shelf life (such as energy bars)
- A radio (crank or battery-powered)
- A small shovel, scraper and snowbrush
- A warning light or road flares
- A whistle
Other items that can be helpful to have in your vehicle include antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, a fire extinguisher, sand or salt, and a tow rope and jumper cables.
If you follow these guidelines, you should be well prepared for any unexpected events. For more in-depth information, you can also print a copy of the government of Canada’s emergency preparedness guide.