26 Weeks to Emergency Preparedness
Follow along week by week and build yourself a 72 hour emergency supply so that you and your family are assured of the necessities should a major emergency strike.
72 hours--is your family prepared? During an emergency, you and your family could be on your own for an extended period of time. Emergency services may not be readily available, as increasing demands are placed on responders. It may take emergency workers some time to get to you as they help those in most critical need.
I will be sending out a weekly message letting you know what to do each week to build your own 72 hour kit. I am building a kit for my home use – storing it in the trailer because my house is full of boxes – then if I am busy Michelle can take care of herself, I challenge everyone else to do the same.
Get a large portable container with a lid to use as an emergency kit. A plastic storage bin or garbage can works well, particularly one with wheels. Choose an accessible location for the container near an exit and label the container. Make sure all family members know what it will be used for and where it is. (You may also want to pack items into individual wheeled carts, carry-alls or packs to make them easier to carry by individual family members.)
Stock your kit with at least a three-day supply of water for every family member and don’t forget to include water for pets. It is best to plan for four litres of water per person, per day—two for drinking and two for food preparation and hygiene. You might consider the addition of water purification tablets. (water can and should be rotated – buy the water for the kit and then, when you use it during the year just replace it with fresh water each time)
Stock your kit with several varieties of packaged foods, canned meats and dried fruit. Include a manual can opener. If needed, include infant supplies including disposable diapers, disposable bottles, formula, etc. Plan for at least a three-day supply of food for each family member. (Some agencies are now recommending stocking up to a one-week supply.) (same as with the water, use your kit contents during the year making sure to replace the items – that way it’s always fairly new)
Arrange an out-of-area phone contact person, and keep this and other emergency phone numbers near each telephone. Teach family members these numbers. (with cell phone make sure contacts are clearly labeled, and keep a hard copy in your glove box – just in case)
Add food items and supplies for pets to your kit.
Get a portable radio and extra batteries for your emergency kit.
Learn about hazards. Know the hazards in your community. Find out if the area where you live is vulnerable to landslides, flooding, interface fires or other threats such as hazardous material spills. Also do a home hazard hunt to make your home safer. Secure appliances and heavy furniture and move beds away from overhead objects like heavy mirrors and windows.
Prepare a first-aid kit that includes prescription medications, eyeglasses, bandages, sterile gauze pads, tape, scissors, tweezers, antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide and other items such as over-the-counter pain pills.
Give every family member specific safety tasks to do in an emergency. For example, designate one person to be in charge of turning off electricity, one to collect the emergency container, one to track down family members and make sure people with disabilities or special health needs are provided for. Make sure someone is also delegated to looking after any pets.
Identify safe places in your home and on your property. Plan and practice earthquake “drop, cover, hold” or evacuation drills using different escape routes. Know that your community may set up a reception centre for evacuees during an emergency.
Identify a family meeting place away from home but close to your regular spots (between work and home or school).
Add a flashlight and extra batteries, along with candles and waterproof matches, to your kit.
Add some dried soups and other items such as peanut butter to your emergency kit. Dried and canned foods last a long time. Make a note to cycle these out of the kit each year. The kit can serve as an emergency supply for you if you forget to shop someday – just remember to replace what you take
Check your insurance policies and make records of your possessions. Keep those lists separate from your possessions, store them at work or in your safe deposit box if you have one.
Stock your kit with both large and medium-sized plastic garbage bags (orange or yellow make good visible signals). Large bags can also be used as ponchos, ground covers or blankets. Add plastic or paper dishes and cups as well.
Add a change of clothing for each family member to your kit. Be sure to include warm clothing, heavy work gloves and sturdy shoes.
Add additional canned or freeze-dried food like stews, tuna fish, baked beans and vegetables to your kit.
Enroll a family member in a first-aid course. Pack HELP/OK signs in your kit.
Assemble important documents like wills, insurance papers, medical records, credit card numbers, inventory of possessions, identification, etc. Make copies and store originals in a fireproof/ waterproof container that will be accessible if your home is damaged.
Add personal items such as toilet paper, handi-wipes, soap, detergent, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, sanitary supplies, etc. to your emergency kit.
Add evaporated, canned or powdered milk to your kit.
Get a large bucket with a tight-fitting lid to use as a toilet, and put it with your emergency kit. Use the bucket to store other emergency tools like an axe, a folding shovel and rope.
Add sleeping bags or blankets (foil blankets take up less space) and consider adding plastic emergency ponchos to your kit.
Add more canned, freeze-dried, or dehydrated food products to your kit until you have at least a three-day supply for each family member.
Add a pocket knife, cutlery, a whistle and spare set of house and car keys as well as items such as books, toys and cards as well as a family photo album to your kit.
Meet with neighbours to discuss emergency preparations and the possibility of sharing items such as generators.
Now you and your family are personally prepared for most emergencies.
Once your emergency kit is assembled and your emergency plan is in place, don’t forget to rotate and replace items as they expire. And most importantly – practice your plan and update it as your family’s needs change.
Go to www.pep.bc.ca for more information.