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 may be a little different depending on your geographic location, season, and potential natural disasters that could happen (ice storms, wildfire, excessive rain, etc.); as well as your type of dwelling, but here are some things to consider.
Your Emergency Plan Should Include
The moment a disaster strikes, your biggest priority should be locating and securing your family. Ensure each of these elements is discussed with all members of the household on a regular basis.
- Share updated emergency contact information for each family member (record mobile phone numbers, as well as work and school phone numbers). Also be sure to identify one or two out-of-town contacts (who would likely will not be affected by similar regional emergencies) your family members could connect with if needed.
- Know where you’ll meet in case of an emergency. It’s best to select two safe locations – one that is nearby, such as a neighbour’s home or community centre, and one that is outside your neighbourhood in case the emergency affects a larger area.
- Appoint someone to be responsible for small children and pets. If you have pets, you’ll also need a plan for someone to take them if you must leave your home.
- Discuss how your family will get back together if separated, including travel routes and methods of transportation.
- Know your home’s exits.
- Learn how to shut off the water, gas and electricity in your home. In certain emergencies, authorities may ask that these be turned off for safety reasons.
- Talk to neighbours ahead of time to share responsibilities and make necessary arrangements for anyone with special needs.
- Have a home inventory
If the emergency calls for you to remain inside your home, you”ll want to ensure 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.)
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.