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When disasters like the flooding in Quebec strike close to (or at) home, it’s a stark reminder that we might not be as secure as we think we are. Well, when you can’t be secure, you should be prepared. According to the government of Canada we really should be able to survive in our homes for up to 72 hours without electricity. If you’re thinking you might not be able to last even 12 with the items you currently have in stock, you’re certainly not alone, but now may be a good time to set up your home emergency kit and an emergency plan.

The Essentials

The Government of Canada website outlines the basic items you should have in your emergency kit.

The most important items to have in your kit are non-perishable food items (canned food, granola or energy bars, dried fruit), a manual can opener, water (GoC suggests two litres per person per day), a wind-up or battery-powered radio and flashlight, a fully stocked first-aid kit, extra keys for your house and car, cash, IDs and important documents, and a copy of your emergency plan.

Also consider throwing in some toiletries (remember to stock pads/tampons, ladies!), hand sanitizer, blankets, a basic tool kit, candles, matches, duct tape, and extra pet food.

Make sure you have enough for the whole family to last 72 hours and individualize your kit according to need. Have a growing teen in the house? Make sure you stock up on more food. If anyone in the house needs certain medications, make stocking those a priority too. If you have a pet, remember to take their water needs into consideration.

Extras

Being stuck in your house for 72 hours doesn’t exactly leave you with many entertainment options, so you might want to include some ways to pass the time, especially if you have young children. Throw in a board game, a pack of cards, colouring books, puzzles or small toys.

It’s also a good idea to invest in a battery pack (or a few) for charging phones and tablets which can be used for emergencies or entertainment. You can get them for under $20 in a lot of box stores or right here for $15.

Also consider investing in a fuel-operated stove (and fuel) if you think that’s something your family will find useful.

Remember

You hopefully won’t need your kit, but not all the items will be functional after years of sitting unused. You should replace the food and water in your kit once a year to ensure it’s still good when you need it. Also take the opportunity to test that your flashlight and radio work and that any medications you included are not past their expiry date.

Don’t forget the plan!

Don’t assume that your whole family knows what to do in a crisis. You might not all be together when disaster strikes so ensure your kids know where the emergency kit is, emergency exits from the house, where the family meeting place is and how you will all contact each other.

The Government of Canada website offers a good outline for creating your emergency plan as well as information about what to do in specific crises like earthquakes or tornadoes.

No one wants to have to think about the worst, but taking a a few hours to set up an emergency plan and kit could save you in a crisis and at the very least, ease your mind before that.