Back when my boys and I lived in Lumsden, I had a stash of emergency supplies in the basement that included non-perishable food, bottled water, a flashlight, batteries, candles and a few other essentials just in case of an emergency. But when we moved to an apartment in another city, then a townhouse and then another townhouse, my emergency kit ended up disassembled and in disarray. Sure, we have canned goods in the house, a few bottles of water by the door and a flashlight stuffed in a drawer of junk. But in case of an emergency, I no longer have my easy-to-grab kit full of every essential my family might need.
And I’m not alone! Even though it’s recommended that families keep an kit ready to get them through a 72-hour emergency if needed, only 34% of Canadians have such an emergency kit in their home. But if you’re like me and don’t currently have an emergency kit, there’s no better time to remedy that than right now! May 7th to the 13th is Emergency Preparedness Week in Canada, and Duracell has teamed up with the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs to help raise awareness about the importance of being ready for an emergency. Check out these three tips to help ensure your family knows what to do in an unexpected situation!
- KNOW THE RISKS: Know the hazards in your community that you should be prepared to experience. For example, do you live in an area prone to extreme heat or extreme cold; do you live near a forest; should hazardous material spills be a concern; what about power outages or flooding; should tornadoes and windstorms be a concern?
- MAKE A PLAN: Discuss with your family and identify a meeting place. When an emergency occurs, the family might not be together; therefore, it’s important to identify a meeting place. It is also important to identify a second location close to home in case there is something blocking your first meeting place. We also recommend identifying one out-of-town contact who family members can call in case you can’t contact each other.
- GET AN EMERGENCY KIT: Many different things should go in your kit, and it should be tailored to your family. All basic kits should include: flashlight, radio, important documents (such as identification), batteries, non-perishable foods, utensils, bottled water (2 litres per person per day), clothing & footwear, hygiene products, sleeping bags and blankets.
After reading these tips and beginning the assembly of my own kit, I realized that it really is a more personal experience than I might have thought. With a baby on the way in just a few months, I needed to be sure I packed diapers and baby clothes in our kit. And since I want to be sure all our needs are covered if we have to suddenly leave the house, I always like making sure that I have some money in my emergency kit as well.
Once I created my new emergency kit, I also decided to find a better place to store it. In my old house, I used to keep the kit in the basement but after putting more thought into my options, I realized that was far from an ideal spot. Depending on the emergency, a kit stored in the basement might not be accessible and could even get damaged. Instead, I found a spot in the hall closet by the front door to store everything but the water. For four people, the recommended amount of water for an emergency kit would be 24 litres. Rather than finding a place to store multiple large bottles in the house, I simply filled a large 18.9 litre jug and put it in the back of my vehicle, ready to be used when needed.
But the one essential I’ve always had ready for my emergency kit is Duracell batteries for our flashlight and radio. Since they are guaranteed to hold their charge for ten years, having them in my kit means that I can always trust they’ll work for me if the need arises. For more advice on being prepared for an emergency, make sure to visit getprepared.gc.ca. Then take some time this week to sit down with your family, do some planning and organize your emergency kit. You may never need it but if you do, you’ll be glad it’s ready!