We're excited to share practical and economical ideas to make preparing for emergencies easier.
Many of these valuable tips have been collected from our volunteers, residents and staff.
Start Simple, Start Now
Start with simple, easy to accomplish tasks. Place one item for your grab and go bag on the kitchen counter now - like a roll of toilet paper. Add another item every day. When the pile gets too big, put it in a bag and keep adding to it! Create a folder in your secure, cloud-based document storage now and add a photo or two of the important items in your wallet. Add other important documents and photos and use the folder to keep copies of annually renewed items, like insurance. See more item suggestions below.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Just as every family is unique, so is their preparedness. Account for the people who make your household special and plan to meet their needs. If you have children, provide age appropriate information about what you are planning for and have them help you make kits. They may take special interest in creating a kit for the family pet. Use small events such as power outages or storm events to practice your plan and access your kit.
Turn Routine Tasks into Preparedness Habits
Many tasks occur on a regular cycle like replacing batteries in smoke alarms, birthdays, yard maintenance and large grocery shops. To ensure kit contents stay current, turn routine tasks into an opportunity to form preparedness habits. Next time you return home from a large grocery shop, rotate the food in your kit. After the last camping trip of the summer, supplement your vehicle kit with sleeping bags. Daylight savings can be your reminder to refresh the water you have stored and time this task for when you need to use water such as a large outdoor event or camping to reduce waste. Your birthday (or any holiday of your choosing) can be the time when medications come out of the kits and are put into circulation in the medicine cabinet.
Keep Fuel and Supplies Stocked
Items we need in an emergency are those we use everyday. Ensure your gas tank remains above half, fully charge your mobile phone and replace batteries as you use them. These are helpful practices that pay off in an emergency.
Centralize Items for Kit
Your household is unique and has almost everything needed to support your loved ones during an emergency. Before you make purchases, centralize items in a bin that is easy to access and make it part of your household routine. This ensures cycling through items and remaining familiar with the contents, thereby eliminating waste. Your kit can contain a first aid kit, batteries, radio, foil blankets, duct tape and double as storage for items like eye contact solution, old glasses and small tools.
On grocery shops, purchase an extra can of an item that is part of your family’s regular meal routine. When those items are on sale, grab a few extra and build toward a minimum of seven days of preparedness. Store foods familiar to your family so you are not introducing new foods at what could be a stressful time. If you pickle or preserve foods, place some jars in your kit. Consider bulk purchasing with extended family or friends to reduce costs. As with all kits contents, frequently access and rotate items to ensure they are put to use.
Often our first help in an emergency comes from neighbours. Take time to get to know them before you need them. Our Neighbour Helping Neighbour program is an excellent resource for this. It doesn't cost you anything to knock on their door and introduce yourself.
Items that Rely on Other Items
Ensure items that rely on other items for functionality in your kit, are paired up. Canned food requires a manual can opener; flashlight requires batteries and paper requires a pen. Frequent access in your kit ensures you are familiar and comfortable with kit contents.
Small Living Spaces
Preparing in a small living space requires a little creativity and organization. Look for space that is underutilized and maximize it. This may require decluttering and repurposing space. Consider emptying a drawer or cabinet of items that you rarely use and put them away in a bin that can slide under a bed or sofa. Instead of tucking a kit away, create a kit that is part of your regular household routine and fill it with items you use on a consistent basis such as batteries, a first aid kit and flashlights. There is great benefit to frequent access of your kit as this ensures familiarity and constant cycling of items. Use traditional furniture in non-traditional ways such as a hope chest or large ottoman doubling as your kit.
Mobile Phone Emergency Contact
Even if locked, most mobile phones allow access to an emergency contact if it has been programmed. Ensure you take advantage of this feature. It can be of great benefit to first responders should they need to contact a loved one on your behalf. Another option is to add the contact name ICE (In Case of Emergency) in your mobile contact directory. This may even help you reunite with a lost phone. Make sure you have a spare charging cord in your kit.
Secure Your Space
Conduct a home hazard hunt and look for ways to make your home safer. Put heavy objects on low shelves, lock casters and secure tall furniture to wall studs. Know the location of utility shut offs in your home and learn how and when to turn them off. Use putty to secure small, fragile items to shelving and use eyebolts to hang pictures. Identify places to drop, cover and hold on and keep beds clear of potential falling items. Store cleaning supplies and other household chemicals in an appropriate place if they were to topple or spill.
Ensure you can access documents you need in an emergency by scanning them onto a password protected memory stick or uploading to secure cloud based storage. This includes insurance policies, medical history, prescription list, and contact information. Add a copy of your wallet contents so if it is lost, you know exactly what you need to replace. Save family photos and a photo inventory of your home contents including valuables. One stick can store a lot of information. Update every time you renew your home insurance.
Campers are well on the way to preparedness. Being able to sustain yourself in a recreational environment, is great practice for a real event. When you return home from your next camping trip, keep supplies such as sleeping bags and bins accessible. Store water jugs full and replenish items like batteries and stove fuel. The skills you learn enjoying the outdoors, like being adaptable and making due without home comforts, can benefit you in an emergency.
Want to give a gift that really says you care? Pick one thing that is important for a loved one to have in a kit to get them started. Preparedness items can be as affordable as an empty tote with a checklist, or as extravagant as a generator. Any occasion is a great time to give a practical and thoughtful gift such as a birthday, house warming or wedding.
When getting rid of old shoes, put them under your bed. If an emergency happens while you are sleeping they can offer protection if walking on fallen debris and broken glass. Also consider shoes for your vehicle and at work for post emergency conditions. For example, flip flops or high heels may not be appropriate if walking over debris or a long distance.
Pack Your Pannier
Do you have a pannier on your bike? If you do, you are likely already more prepared than you think. Rain gear, first aid kit and snacks on board? All are essential grab and go kit items. Add a portable phone charger, copies of personal identification and insurance documents and you're well on your way. Remember to swap out items seasonally - mittens out, sunscreen in! Ensure frequent access for familiarity of kit contents.