Is Your Family Prepared, Should An Emergency Occur?

September 16th 2010
Is Your Family Prepared, Should An Emergency Occur?

Each year, across Canada we face a number of hazards, from earthquakes, to blizzards, to floods. Although the consequences of disasters can be similar, knowing the risks specific to your area can help you prepare yourself better.

During an emergency, you and your family could be on your own for an extended period of time and access to phones, gas, water, sewer and electrical services may be cut. You should be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for a minimum of 72 hours.

By taking a few simple steps, you can become better prepared to face a range of emergencies - anytime, anywhere. Here are some tips to help you with your family's emergency plan.

Safe home instructions:

- Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector, smoke detector and fire extinguisher on every floor of your home.
- Everyone in your home should know where to find the fire extinguisher.
- All capable adults and older children should know how to use it.
- Make a "get out safe" plan for your home, so if a fire breaks out your family knows exactly what to do and how to evacuate your home.
- Teach children how and when to dial 9-1-1. Keep a list of emergency numbers near your home phone, including office and cell phone numbers for yourself, and an out of town contact number of a relative or close friend and make sure your children know how to call the out-of-town contact person.
- Ensure your children know where the emergency kit is located.
- Shut off water and electricity if officials tell you to.
- Leave natural gas service "on" unless officials tell you to turn it off. (If you turn off the gas, the gas company has to reconnect it. In a major emergency, it could take weeks for a professional to respond. You would be without gas for heating and cooking.)
- Older children and adults should know how to turn off your home's water, electricity and gas. Make large, easy-to-see signs for water and gas shut-offs as well as for the breaker panel or fuse box.

Prepare an Emergency Kit:

In an emergency you will need some basic supplies. You may need to get by without power or tap water. You may have some of the items already, such as a flashlight, battery-operated radio, food, water and blankets. The key is to make sure they are organized and easy to find. Would you be able to find your flashlight in the dark? Make sure your kit is easy to carry. Keep it in a backpack, duffel bag or suitcase with wheels, in an easy-to-reach, accessible place, such as your front hall closet.

Basic Emergency Kit:

- Water - at least two litres of water per person per day. Include small bottles that can be carried easily in case of an evacuation order
- Food that won't spoil, such as canned food, energy bars and dried foods (remember to replace the food and water once a year)
- Manual can-opener
- Wind-up or battery-powered flashlight (and extra batteries)
- Wind-up or battery-powered radio (and extra batteries)
- First aid kit
- Special items such as prescription medications, infant formula and equipment for people with disabilities
- Extra keys for your car and house
- Some cash in smaller bills, such as $10 bills and change for payphones
- A copy of your emergency plan and contact information
- You may want to ensure you have a corded phone in your home, as most cordless phones will not work during a power outage

Recommended additional items:

- Candles and matches or lighter (remember to place candles in sturdy containers and to put them out before going to sleep)
- A change of clothing and footwear for each household member
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each household member
- A whistle (in case you need to attract attention)
- Garbage bags for personal sanitation
- Toilet paper and other personal care supplies
- Safety gloves
- Basic tools (hammer, pliers, wrench, screwdrivers, fasteners, work gloves)
- Small fuel-driven stove and fuel (follow manufacturer's directions and store properly)
- Two litres of water per person per day for cooking and cleaning (jugs of water can be lined along the bottom of a deep freezer, for future use, and can keep your freezers contents from spoiling for a longer time should there be an extended power outage.)

Here is a video of Shell detailing what to include in your family's emergency kit...