Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Home Emergency Preparedness

This is an article I have updated a few times over the past few years.  I thought that it is worth posting again.

Are you prepared for an emergency?  There are some areas of the world where they have become accustomed to evacuating their homes at a moments notice.  Hurricanes, tornadoes, and forest fires are just some of the   natural disasters that affect people’s lives annually.  As a result, people who live in areas plagued by these events have 72 hour kits that allow them to leave home quickly, and be prepared to live away from home for at least 3 days.  Many have suitcases packed to help them live for up to a week without access to their home.

The basics around a 72 hour emergency kit are:
1. Know the risks
2. Make a plan
3. Get a Kit

Know the Risks – Each person and home is subject to different risks.  While the Rocky Mountain House Region isn’t likely to have a hurricane, we have seen some pretty powerful winds that could knock out electricity for a few days.  Other potential risks include forest/home fires that result in evacuations and snow/ice storms that could knock out electricity and limit your mobility.  The 72 hour kit is usually designed for the risks that result in you having to leave your home very quickly, so consider the risks that could cause that course of action.

Make a Plan – You should make a plan that works for you and your family.  The plan should include things like:

  • How to get out of the house in case of fire
  • Where to meet for a head count
  • Contacts for emergencies – hospital, police, friends and family
  • Where your supplies are stored, fire extinguisher. First aid kit
  • List of the valuables you want to take with you (family pictures and history…)
Get a Kit – You will want your kit to be in something you can carry (backpack, duffle bag) and can be easily stored in your house, garage, or vehicle.  It should include:
  • 72 hours of drinking water
  • Food that won’t spoil if wet or banged around
  • First aid kit
  • Battery powered or wind up flashlight and radio
  • Medication, toiletries, infant formula or diapers (if needed)
  • Weather appropriate clothing
  • At least $20 cash, and some coins for phones or vending machines
  • A copy of your emergency plan, and a list of where important documents are stored (wills, insurance, family contacts)
  • A copy of all of your family’s personal information in each person’s pack (photo, name, address. contacts…)  This helps with identification of children in case you get separated.
  • Books, cards, pen and paper, thing to keep you and kids busy
The assumption with a 72 hour kit is that the worst of most emergency situations will occur in the first 72 hours.  For more details about 72 Hour Emergency Plans check out the Canadian Government site –getprepared.ca

I would also add that you should keep a list of your debit and credit cards, insurance and loan numbers along with their contact numbers so that you can use them in an emergency even when away from home.  Many residents who lost homes in the Slave Lake fire took weeks to recover all of this information, and even for those who did not lose their homes in the fire it took several days before they were able to return and find that information.  Having the information stored somewhere safe but accessible (so not just a safety deposit box) may be a great help for you.

The following link is PDF of a 72 Hour Emergency Kit checklist

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