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Emergency Preparedness Starts With You
72 Hours: Is Your Family Prepared?
If an emergency happens in your community, it may take emergency workers some time to reach you. You should be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for a minimum of 72 hours.
Learn how quick and easy it is to become better prepared to face a range of emergencies – anytime, anywhere. Use this guide to create your own emergency plan. Use the checklists to build a 72-hour emergency kit. These basic steps will help you take care of yourself and your loved ones during an emergency.
Step 1. Know the risks
Although the consequences of various disasters can be similar, knowing the risks in your region can help you better prepare. Across Canada, we face a number of hazards, such as floods in many provinces, earthquakes in British Columbia, blizzards in Nunavut and tornadoes in Ontario. In addition to natural disasters, there are other types of risks, such as power outages and industrial or transportation accidents.
Some of the risks below may be relevant to your community. Find out which ones by visiting GetPrepared.ca. You may want to identify the most likely ones for easy reference. You may also want to find out how disasters have impacted Canadians. Learn more about disasters, including those triggered by natural hazards, technological hazards or conflict by using the Canadian Disaster Database at: http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cdd
Step 2. Make a plan
Every Canadian household needs an emergency plan. It will help you and your family know what to do in case of an emergency. It will take you about 20 minutes to make your plan.
Your family may not be together when an emergency occurs. Plan how to meet or how to contact one another, and discuss what you would do in different situations.
Use the following pages to create your plan. Most of this information can be filled out on your own. You may need to get some information from your municipality and province/territory about their emergency plans. A list of provincial emergency management agencies is available at the end of this guide.
Keep this document in an easy-to-find, easy-to-remember place (for example, with your emergency kit). Photocopy this plan and keep it in your car and/or at work, and a copy close to your phone. If you completed your plan online, keep an electronic version on your computer.
Neighbourhood safety plan
Work with your neighbours to identify people who may need extra help during an emergency. To help make sure everyone is taken care of, assign “block buddies.”
Write yourself a reminder to update your emergency plan one year from now.
On this date next year, review your contact information, practise your emergency evacuation plans, change the batteries in your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector, and restock your kit(s). Change the batteries, food and water in your emergency kits once a year.
Draw up a floor plan of your home that shows all possible exits from each room. Plan a main exit route and an alternate exit route from each room. If you live in an apartment, plan to use the stairs instead of the elevators. If you are unable to use the stairs, notify emergency personnel ahead of time. Also, identify an evacuation route from your neighbourhood in case you need to leave in a hurry (and think of more than one option).
Identify safe places where everyone should meet if you cannot go home or you need to evacuate.
STEP 3. GET AN EMERGENCY KIT
In an emergency, you will need some basic supplies. You may need to get by without power or tap water. Be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.
You may have some of the items already, such as food, water and a battery-operated or crank flashlight. The key is to make sure they are organized and easy to find. Would you be able to find your flashlight in the dark?
Make sure your kit is easy to carry and everyone in the household knows where it is. Keep it in a backpack, duffle bag or suitcase with wheels, in an easy-to-reach, accessible place, such as your front-hall closet. If you have many people in your household, your emergency kit could get heavy. It’s a good idea to separate some of these supplies in backpacks. That way, your kit will be more portable and each person can personalize his or her own grab-and-go emergency kit.
Basic emergency kit
- Water – at least two litres of water per person per day; include small bottles that can be carried easily in case of an evacuation order
- Food that won’t spoil, such as canned food, energy bars and dried foods (replace food and water once a year)
- Manual can-opener
- Crank or battery-powered flashlight (and extra batteries). Replace batteries once a year.
- Crank, battery-powered radio (and extra batteries) or Weatheradio
- First aid kit
- Extra keys to your car and house
- Some cash in smaller bills, such as $10 bills and change for payphones
- A copy of your emergency plan and contact information
- If applicable, other items such as prescription medication, infant formula, equipment for people with disabilities, or food, water and medication for your pets or service animal (personalize according to your needs)
Recommended additional items
- Two additional litres of water per person per day for cooking and cleaning
- Candles and matches or lighter (place candles in deep, sturdy containers and do not burn unattended)
- Change of clothing and footwear for each household member
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each household member
- Hand sanitizer
- Garbage bags
- Toilet paper
- Water purifying tablets
- Basic tools (hammer, pliers, wrench, screwdrivers, work gloves, dust mask, pocket knife)
- A whistle (in case you need to attract attention)
- Duct tape (to tape up windows, doors, air vents, etc.)
If you think your water is contaminated, check with your municipality or local authorities for details. When in doubt, do not drink water you suspect may be contaminated.
Keep some cash on hand, as automated bank machines and their networks may not work during an emergency. You may have difficulty using debit or credit cards.
Emergency vehicle kit
Prepare a small kit and keep it in your vehicle.
The basic kit should include:
- Candle in a deep can and matches
- Extra clothing and shoes
- First aid kit with seatbelt cutter
- Flashlight (crank or battery-powered). Replace batteries once a year.
- Food that won’t spoil (such as energy bars)
- List of contact numbers
- Radio (crank or battery-powered). Replace batteries once a year.
- Small shovel, scraper and snowbrush
- Warning light or road flares
Recommended additional items to keep in your vehicle
- Antifreeze, windshield washer fluid
- Fire extinguisher
- Road maps
- Sand, salt or cat litter (non-clumping)
- Tow rope and jumper cables
Other resources for you and your family