How to get your home ready for emergencies

The first week in May is marked as Emergency Preparedness Week in Canada, an awareness and education campaign aimed at helping Canadians taking action to protect themselves and their families during times of emergencies. This year’s theme is “Be Emergency Ready”.

While governments at all levels are working hard to keep Canada safe, everyone has a role to play in being prepared for an emergency; and being prepared means having the knowledge and equipment necessary to better cope during an emergency. There are many ways to “Be Emergency Ready”. [Government of Canada]

Here are some tips for home emergency planning and preparation:

Planning for home: 

  • Determine your home’s evacuation routes
  • Establish a safe meeting place for your family
  • Plan for evacuation of any pets you have
  • Have an emergency 72-hour kit (see below)

Understanding your neighbourhood: 

  • Know your neighbours and who to turn to in a disaster
  • Identify if your community has an emergency plan or evacuation route
  • Identify if your community has a shelter

Have a 72-hour emergency kit:

  • Bottled water: you want to ensure you have enough water for each member of your family, and enough to last up to three days.
  • Food: a minimum of 3 days worth of non-perishable food (good for up to three years). Food items like canned and dried food and energy bars.
  • Food supplies: can opener, even a camping stove for cooking. You’ll also want to have some utensils in your kit as well.
  • Baby supplies: diapers, wipes, formula and anything your baby would need for three days.
  • Special needs items: any prescriptions your family needs, extra contacts, etc.
  • Flashlight: if you have a battery-operated one, make sure you have extra batteries. It’s best to find a wind-up flashlight.
  • Radio: again, ensure you have enough batteries for the radio, or find a wind-up radio.
  • Sleeping supplies: clothing items, sleeping bags, extra socks and blankets.
  • First aid kit: a standard first aid kit will do, but make sure it’s fully stocked.
  • Extra keys: a spare set of car and house keys.
  • Cash: have a sum of cash in small bills, as credit and debit cards may not work in an emergency situation.
  • Copies of important documents: these would include birth certificates, passports, insurance policies, etc.
  • Plastic bags: garbage bag size is good for this.
  • Waterproof matches: and matches that will ‘strike anywhere’.
  • Whistle: or any emergency noisemaker device.

The Canadian Red Cross also has a detailed checklist on how to make a 72-hour kit, as well as numerous other resources for Emergency Preparedness Week.