26 Weeks to Emergency Preparedness

Follow along week by week to 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.

Week One
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.)

Week Two
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)

Week Three
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)

Week Four
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)

Week Five
Add food items and supplies for pets to your kit.

Week Six
Get a portable radio and extra batteries for your emergency kit.

Week Seven
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.

Week Eight
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.

Week Nine
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.

Week Ten
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.

Week Eleven
Identify a family meeting place away from home but close to your regular spots (between work and home or school).

Week Twelve
Add a flashlight and extra batteries, along with candles and waterproof matches, to your kit.

Week Thirteen
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

Week Fourteen
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.

Week Fifteen
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.

Week Sixteen
Add a change of clothing for each family member to your kit. Be sure to include warm clothing, heavy work gloves and sturdy shoes.

Week Seventeen
Add additional canned or freeze-dried food like stews, tuna fish, baked beans and vegetables to your kit.

Week Eighteen
Enroll a family member in a first-aid course. Pack HELP/OK signs in your kit.

Week Nineteen
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.

Week Twenty
Add personal items such as toilet paper, handi-wipes, soap, detergent, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, sanitary supplies, etc. to your emergency kit. 

Week Twenty-One
Add evaporated, canned or powdered milk to your kit.

Week Twenty-Two
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. 

Week Twenty-Three
 Add sleeping bags or blankets (foil blankets take up less space) and consider adding plastic emergency ponchos to your kit.

Week Twenty-Four
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.

Week Twenty-Five
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.

Week Twenty-Six
Meet with neighbours to discuss emergency preparations and the possibility of sharing items such as generators.

Now you and your family are 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. Most importantly – practice your plan and update it as your family’s needs change.