While sitting down to anticipate the worst may not be how you like to spend an hour or two of spare time, having a game plan can make all the difference in an emergency situation. Your plan doesn’t need to be extensive (we’re not suggesting building a bunker), but it should cover the basics of roles and responsibilities of individual family members, who to call, as well as resources available in your area should something happen.
Keep in mind, every plan is different depending on your geographic location, season, and potential natural disasters that could happen (ice storms, rain, etc.); as well as your type of dwelling. In any case, these are some things to consider when putting together your plan.
1. Immediate Needs
The moment a disaster strikes, your biggest priority should be locating and securing your family. Ensure each of these elements have been discussed with all members of the household on a regular basis.
- Where you’ll meet in case of an emergency.
- How you’ll get back together if separated.
- Emergency contact information (work, schools, contact information for each family member; special health needs).
- How to shut off the water, gas and electricity in your home.
- Who is responsible for small children and pets.
- Know your home’s exits.
- Talk to neighbours ahead of time to share responsibilities.
- Have a home inventory
2. Short-Term Planning
If the emergency calls for you to remain inside your home, ensure that you have the necessary supplies and basics (food, water, medicine, etc.) that will last you at least three days. If you live in a more remote area, consider stocking a minimum of one week’s worth of supplies in addition to the following:
- non-perishable food items
- kitchen essentials, including a manual can opener
- clothing for all family members
- battery-powered or wind-up radio, with extra batteries
- basic tool kit
- flashlight with extra batteries
- candles and matches
- cell phone
- blankets, waterproof matches
- hygiene supplies
- special need items (prescription medication, infant formula, extra keys for car and home)
- first aid kit
- copies of essential family documents and records (will, driver’s licence, birth certificates, insurance policies, passports, etc.)
3. Long Term Planning
Should an emergency displace you and your family, you should have a list of emergency contacts and addresses for nearby relatives, emergency shelters, or hotels where you could stay. Make sure to check your insurance policy to confirm your coverage in case of loss of property and what assistance can be provided to you and your family in different scenarios – severe weather, natural disaster, etc. In any situation however, it’s good practice to keep an emergency fund in your budget to cover unexpected costs.
For more tools and resources, see Public Safety Canada’s Get Prepared online guide.
Have a great emergency preparedness tip you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments below.