Emergency Preparedness

One of my many New Year’s resolutions is that I want to stop procrastinating and put together a proper Emergency Kit for our house. Now that we have Kale, I have to consider him when filling the Emergency Box, and want to add some baby related items. We also have to consider Mooki, our dog, as she’s a member of our family, too, so I need to make sure that there is dog food and other goodies for her in there. The idea resurfaced for me during the snowfall, when the city appeared to screech to a halt. I think I’m in good company, though. I think a lot of people procrastinate and don’t want to put together their Emergency Kit because it sort of makes you feel like you just might be tempting fate. But the fact is, I’d rather be prepared than not. 

Where I live in New Westminster, at the crest of the hill, I am unlikely to be affected by flood, but damage to our home in the event of an earthquake, fire, or other type of disaster are possible, and friends who live along the river may be in danger of flood waters. The city of New Westminster has some good maps on their website, outlining the flood plains and the flood control system. I highly recommend giving it a once-over – I think many people would be surprised to find out if they are or are not in danger.  

Another thing to consider is “How long will it take for things to get under control in the event of a disaster?” Experts from our federal government (also on the City of New Westminster’s website) suggest being prepared for 72 hours.  Personally, I would like to include some supplies (like food and water) that will last us a week, so that I can be as self sustained as possible to ensure that those who need help more than us are able to get it. 

I’m a volunteer for the New Westminster Emergency Pet Services group, and what the group does is assist during emergencies to ensure that pets are accounted for and cared for, and that owners are reassured their beloved furry/scaly friends will be okay too. There were many reports in the news during the tragic events of Hurricane Katrina where residents refused to leave or accept help because they would not abandon their pets. So, I joined the New Westminster Emergency Pet Services group after that, because I wanted to help pets and pet owners in the event a disaster strikes. We work with the city’s existing emergency services and I am happy to report the City of New Westminster readily acknowledges that pets need preparedness too.

So, what do you put in your Emergency Box?

Well, you can buy a basic emergency kit from various retailers, or through St John Ambulance and then tailor it to your needs by adding a few things like baby food and a few diapers, your pet’s food, an extra leash and collar, or any medications you take regularly clearly marked with your name, to name a few.   You could also build your own kit from scratch or from items you already own. Here is a good basic list. 

Where do you put your kit in your house?

Somewhere accessible. If your home has more than one floor, try to put it on the main floor, close to a door if possible. Think about what you will be like if there is a true disaster – you’ll likely be nervous, and maybe a bit scatterbrained, and definitely forgetful. The less you have to think, the better. Make sure you put your kit in something that is easy to carry. I have a bit of an addiction to Rubbermaid totes, but they aren’t the easiest to carry if we were to walk any major length, so I’m going to go to the thrift shop and buy a large duffel bag. Make sure you change the food and other spoilable goods like dog food, baby food, or batteries once a year. I am going to put it into my day planner to do smoke detector tests and change the emergency kit food on the same day – my birthday – so I never forget.

Don’t forget to write an Emergency Plan, and make sure you talk about it as a family so you all know the plan. No point having a plan if you don’t all know it! Also, consider what you’ll do in the event that you can’t get home from work by car or bus. How long will it take you to walk and do you know how to? I find that my commute to and from work was so automatic, I don’t know if there would be  a shorter walking route I could take, say, an urban recreational trail of some sort. So check that sort of thing out beforehand. 

We also have a static clingy thing on our door that says “In the event of a fire, please rescue my pet” and it lists how many and of what kind of pet we have, along with my phone number. I’m also going to add “LOOK IN FRIDGE” where I will put an emergency stash in a Ziploc that contains emergency phone numbers (our cell numbers and also people who don’t live in the same community as we do), a small quantity of  medications, and a small about of money.

Being prepared for an emergency just makes good sense. We live in a small community and by being prepared, we can help one another better should disaster strike. Get to know your neighbours and don’t be afraid to talk emergency preparedness with them.  

Emergency Preparedness Resources:

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