Emergencies can happen at any time, even during the holidays. Our little island has been weathering a destructive storm over the last few days. Many of my friends and family have been without power, clean water, and dealing with isolation from fallen trees and debris.
Ensuring we are prepared for emergencies can help ease the strain caused by an sudden, devastating event and even allow you to relax a little and be grateful. There’s a reason the Girl Scout motto is “Be prepared” – preparation allows us to spring into action, follow a predetermined plan, and create the best case scenario out of any given situation.
Grab & Go Kits
If you don’t have an emergency kit packed and ready in your home, I would highly recommend putting that on your to do list! It does take some planning, spending, and time, but in the event of an emergency, it will be worth it.
What Should be in your Grab & Go Kit?
If you can craft your own kit as opposed to buying a pre-made one, it will serve you and your family better. Maybe you have animals, small children, someone with disabilities? All of these things will not be accounted for in a pre-made kit. You also might be paying for things you don’t need (duplicates or unnecessary items). Make your own or build on a pre-made kit and ensure you are truly prepared for your family’s needs. The Province of BC has a great resource here to give further guidance, but check out your local town or city resources too!
My Top 5 Items to Start your Grab & Go Kit:
- An Inventory List – I keep a piece of paper inside my kit, right at the top, that tells me what’s inside. In an emergency, you may be stressed or perhaps it’s not you that’s going into the kit first. This list will tell the user what items they can expect to find inside. I also list the expiry date of the water, food, and medications on this list. At a quick glance, I can see what needs to be replaced throughout the year.
- Seasonal Clothing – Think of all the seasons; it could be freezing, wet, scorching hot, windy. Ensure all family members have a couple of items for these weather conditions should you have to leave your home with your kit.
- Food & Water – It’s a good practice to have enough supplies to last your family 72 hours without external support. This is a lot, but don’t be intimidated. Anything is better than nothing, so buy as much as your budget allows. There are also devices that can filter water for you and insulated blankets that you can put over your fridge to keep it cold longer. You also want to ensure your BBQ is always ready to go for cooking food, or purchase a small camp stove.
- First Aid Kit & Toiletries – Having supplies to administer First Aid seems like a given, but I would be remiss to leave it off the list! Make sure this kit has sufficient supplies to help the number of people living in your home and keep it stocked. This is also a great place to mention keeping your Emergency First Aid skills up to date, including CPR & AED training. For toiletries, consider that you may be taking this kit and evacuating your home – what things will you need? This includes any specialized medications, a spare pair of glasses, feminine products, and, of course, you’ll want to brush your teeth!
- Personal Items – This includes comfort items, books, cards, and maybe a few sentimental photos. Also important will be copies of your identification, personal health cards, insurance, and emergency contact information for other family members (who knows anyone’s phone number anymore!).
Other things you may want to consider:
- Preparing a small, similar bag for your vehicle.
- Generators can be very, very helpful.
- Local Emergency Muster Stations & communication methods. Do you know where to get relevant information about the current state of the emergency in your local area? Do you know where to go to receive support from your local Emergency Support Services team?
- Carbon monoxide detectors that plug into your home outlets.
- Surge protectors will help prevent damage in a power-outage.
- Don’t let your gas tank go below 1/2 a tank – you may need your vehicle and gas stations could be closed or out of service.
- Check your smoke detectors and change the batteries. I do this maintenance twice a year with the changing of the clocks.
- Keep flashlights next to or under your bed. Shoes aren’t a bad idea here as well.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!
There are many different emergency situations that could occur and some may have you evacuating your home. Drill your emergency plan with your family twice a year to ensure all know what their roles are. At the very least, ensure ALL family members know where your kit is and what to do in case of an emergency.
Be safe out there and be prepared. Happy holidays.
If you have any other tips to share, please do so in the comments!