Emergencies come in all shapes and forms and can require a wide variety of responses. From a blown out tire on our highway travels during winter to a class 3 hurricane, we should be prepared and know what to do.
Every disaster requires a different set of skills and supplies to survive it. While you can’t carry around a big suitcase everywhere you go, there are still ways that you can be prepared for a multitude of different scenarios. Here are some simple steps that will help you to be prepared in the event of an emergency.
The importance of what you put your emergency supplies into shouldn’t be underrated. There are some people that have up to 24 bottles of water in their car at any time, but in an emergency that’s a lot of weight to carry around. Should an emergency require a long hike to safety, a large suitcase full of water may not be the best option. The ideal survival kit should be something that is easy to grab and that you will be capable of carrying for an extended period of time.
The most recommended carrying device is a waterproof container, such as a 5 gallon bucket with a sealable lid. Another popular choice is a durable water resistant backpack, one that has a decent amount of storage capacity.
Your parents may have told you, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.” That thinking should be the same regarding your survival kit. You could own one of the finest bags on the market, complete with high tensile YKK zippers and Ultrasil waterproof lining. But if on the inside you only have a couple of granola bars, a red bull and some beef jerky, you’re not going to last very long. On the other hand, you don’t need to prepare for a full-on doomsday scenario either. Your typical kit should have enough supplies to last you 72 hours.
Here are some items that are essential to an emergency kit:
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered radio
- First Aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Infant formula and diapers, if you have an infant
- Sanitary wipes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Dust mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Copies of any important documents
You can also buy complete kits from Walmart.ca or Costco.com. If you do buy a complete kit like this, you do not need to buy another complete kit in order to replace the perishable items later on down the road. Instead, go to an online supply company like Emprep.com to purchase the individual items before they expire.
Aside from these, you may want to include items that will benefit you if you end up stranded on a desolate road somewhere. Many people involved in the trucking and transport industry recommend adding a suitable tent and additional clothes to any automobile emergency kits. In an emergency, your truck may be damaged or you may be required to leave your vehicle behind. The last thing you want is to be stranded and only have some summer clothes, the choice between steel toe boots and flip-flops, and a towel.
The time to have a disaster or evacuation plan isn’t when your vehicle leaves you stranded or when you’re running for shelter from a major storm. Everyone should take the time, before an emergency happens, to learn the potential hazards in their area and have a plan in place to ensure the safety of themselves and their family.
Your emergency plan should include how to escape from your own home, even including how to get out of that ground-level window in your bathroom. If you have children, consider drawing a map of possible exits and put it in their bedroom. Other plans should include where to meet other family or friends once you leave your house. The first location chosen should be somewhere just outside your home, and one well outside of your neighbourhood, just in case you need to leave the area.
The real problem lies with those that work on the road, as it is difficult to know all of the dangers and evacuation routes of each city. This is why one on the road needs to get weather reports regularly from local weather and news stations, as well as to have a pre-trip plan in place should should things turn ugly. When a disaster does strike (in North America we experience earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, flooding and severe winter conditions), you will want to be ready so that no time is wasted in confusion.
Here are some useful tips we can put on our emergency plan that will help us to be ready for multiple emergency scenarios:
- Know where your emergency kit is located
- First contact list of family and friends to alert them of your status
- Be familiar with major routes – if your vehicle is damaged you may need a busy road to flag someone down
- Identify the emergency channels in order to stay updated with constant weather condition updates
Putting It All Together
No one looks forward to any type of natural disaster, however, the more prepared we can be then the less worried we need to feel. If everyone in your family knows what to do in the event of a disaster, then the added worry of them won’t weigh you down while you are on the road. The opposite is also true. If your family knows that you have an up-to-date kit and a plan in place, then they can be confident that you are ready to survive a disaster, even if communication cannot be made immediately.
More information on disaster preparedness and education from UNESCO: