Today I would like to talk about emergency preparedness. Emergency services suggest that we all have 72 hours worth of water and food in case of an emergency. However, if you live in a remote area like I do, I would suggest having a few extra days. For instance my local hospital is a 40 minute drive. We have a fire station 10 minutes away, but it is not manned. There are volunteers who will respond in an emergency but we will have to wait that extra few minutes for them to arrive at the fire station and then arrive at our property. So we need to be even more prepared.
When I lived in Toronto emergencies were treated much differently. Most of the condo’s we lived in had backup generators so we wouldn’t even always know there was a power outage unless we went outside. Fire services would arrive in less than 5 minutes as well as EMT’s. So the 72 hour suggestion is sufficient for city dweller. But I feel you can never be too prepared.
When putting together your emergency kit you need to take your own unique situation into consideration and leave nothing out. Every household is different. A basic emergency kit should contain the following items:
- At least 72 hours of water for each member of your household. Be sure to have extra water for cooking, flushing the toilet etc. Some of you may not be able to cook, but those of us with wood stoves and camping stoves we can at least make rice or pasta etc.
- Protein bars are excellent for your kit. They keep you pretty full for a long period of time as well as keeping your strength up. Grab a variety of flavours so you can keep things interesting.
- Other foods we keep in our kit include granola bars, canned vegetables, canned fruit, canned fish (tuna and salmon etc) and canned brown beans. You need to think about all members of your family. Do you need baby food or formula?
- Medications and vitamins. Some people must have their vitamins due to chronic health issues. For example, I must take iron every day as I struggle with anemia. I am bi-polar and therefore must have all of my medications. If you fall into this category, you need to always be thinking ahead. Don’t let your meds and vitamins completely run out. Always make sure you have enough for at least 72 hours.
- Pet food is another thing often overlooked. Know how much your pets eat each day and calculate what you will need for an emergency.
- Flash lights with extra batteries. Emergency candles. Please be careful with candles. Many people set their homes on fire from improper use of candles. Never leave candles unattended. Keep candles out of reach of children and pets. Never sleep with a candle lit. I like to use a battery powered lantern from our camping supplies. These are much safer.
- Emergency blankets for each member of your family. These are easy to find at Canadian tire and outdoor stores. In the summer during camping season you will see these at Walmart as well. You may also find them in the first aid section of your pharmacy, but this is kind of rare.
- A fully stocked first aid kit is also a must have. Keep your first aid kit up to date. Things do expire such as iodine wipes, polysporin etc. Check your kit every 6 months to be sure everything is good to use.
- A phone that will work even if the power is out. I have purchased phones in the past that even though say will work in a power outage, they do not. We have an old fashioned phone from a second hand store that we can plug in when the power is out. Mobile phones don’t always work. You need to know your phone situation ahead of time and be prepared. Where I live we do not have mobile phone service in our immediate area. We must drive about half an hour before we have reception. Because of this we must have a land line.
- Try to keep some cash as well. You may be able to go to local store for water but the debit machines will not be working. It’s just one example, but I like to have a little stash of cash in the house.
- Keep all your fire extinguishers up to date. Make sure they are serviced properly. Have them inspected if you are not sure. Remember fire extinguishers must be replaced from time to time. While this is not necessarily part of the emergency kit itself it is vital to have a few in the house.
- Make sure you have outer wear including hats and scarves and gloves for each family member. You never know if you have to leave your home at some point. (Obviously this is for winter.)
- Do you have a heat source in the winter? A generator is vital for winter so you can heat your home. We have a generator, but also a wood stove as we live in the country. Figure out a heat source for your situation should something happen. (Side note: If you have a wood stove, fireplace, generator etc. Do all the adults in the family know how to get them started and use them? This can include your teenage children as well if they are responsible enough to be counted on in an emergency.)
Always go through emergency plans with the whole family. This way there is no panic when something does happen, everyone knows what they are responsible for and to whom to go to for help.
Do you think I’ve missed anything? Leave your comments and let me know.
Next week: everyday tasks that will pay off in an unexpected emergency.