Being prepared for an emergency starts with having a plan. Make sure everyone in your family knows what to do before and after an emergency, and review and update your plan each year.
Your plan should include:
- Where and how to exit your home safely (doors, windows, and stairways)
- A location outside your home where you will meet
- The location of your emergency kits
- The name of a person who lives in a different province, or another area in BC. This person will act as your family's contact if you are separated during an emergency. Make sure that everyone knows this person's name, address and phone number.
- A list of key telephone numbers and addresses
- Locations of important equipment like fire extinguishers, electrical boxes, gas and water valves and floor drains.
Build an Emergency Kit
After a major disaster, the usual services we take for granted, such as running water, refrigeration and telephones may be unavailable. Experts recommend that you should be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least three days. Store your household disaster kit in an easily accessible location. Put contents in a large, watertight container (e.g. a large plastic garbage can with a lid and wheels) that can move easily.
The basic emergency kit will help you get through the first 72 hours of an emergency, suggested items are as follows:
- Water - four litres of water per person per day
- Food - non perishable such as canned food, energy bars and dried foods (remember a can opener)
- First Aid Kit along with instructions
- Warm Clothes and Blankets - don't forget footwear and rain gear
- Flashlight and Batteries
- Garbage Bags and Buckets
- Basic Tools - hammer, pliers, wrench, screwdrivers, etc.
- Personal Care Products - don't forget the toilet paper
- Special Items - such as medication, infant formula, glasses, etc.
- Candles and Matches
In addition to the basic kit, we recommend you also have the following additional emergency supplies. You will then be well equipped for even the worst emergency situation.
- Two additional litres of water per person per day
- Hand sanitizer
- Utensils, can opener
- Household chlorine bleach
- Small stove and fuel
- Duct tape
- Radio (battery powered or wind-up)
- Consider preparing a kit for each member of the family, and a larger kit with common items.
- Consider storing your kit(s) in backpacks to make them easier to carry.
- Check your kits twice a year to maintain freshness of food, water and medications.
Disabilities and Special Needs
If you are a person with special needs, it is important to establish a personal support network of friends, relatives, health-care providers, co-workers and neighbors who understand your specials needs. Write down details about your medical condition, allergies, surgeries, family medical history, medications, emergency contacts and insurance information. Speak with your doctor about preparing a grab-and-go bag with a two-week supply of medications and medical supplies. Include prescriptions and medical documents. Remember that pharmacies may be closed for some time, even after an emergency is over.
- If you require the use of a wheelchair, plan how you will evacuate in an emergency and discuss it with your personal support provider. If you use a motorized wheelchair, have a manual wheelchair as a backup.
- Have a plan for getting out of your home or building (ask your family or friends for assistance, if necessary). Also, plan two evacuation routes because some roads may be closed or blocked in a disaster.
- Create a network of neighbors, relatives, friends, and coworkers to aid you in an emergency. Discuss your needs and make sure everyone knows how to operate necessary equipment.
- Discuss your needs with your employer.
- If you are mobility impaired and live or work in a high-rise building, have an escape chair.
- If you live in an apartment building, ask the management to mark accessible exits clearly and to make arrangements to help you leave the building.
- Keep specialized items ready, including extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen, catheters, medication, prescriptions, food for service animals.
In the event of a disaster in which you must evacuate, the most important thing you can do to protect your pet(s) is to evacuate them too. Most disaster shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety regulations. It is up to you to find a safe place for them, so prepare now for the day when you may have to leave your home.
- Ask friends or relatives not located near your home, if they could shelter your animals.
- Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals.
- Ask local SPCA if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets in a disaster. The SPCA may be overburdened caring for the animals they already have, as well as those displaced by the disaster, so make sure to plan with this in mind.
Check out the PreparedBC website for more emergency plan information