Being prepared in case of an emergency is something most of us have thought about, but many of us put off doing anything about it until it’s too late. As older members of society we at CARP are likely to be more vulnerable than most during a disaster and therefore we should be taking a few simple steps to protect ourselves, our families, our communities and our pets!
“Canada is one of the safest countries in the world with excellent emergency services. However, in the last 12 years or so we’ve had numerous forest fires in B.C. and elsewhere, major flooding in Manitoba and other provinces, a huge power-grid failure in Ontario, hurricanes in the Maritime provinces and an ice storm that paralyzed Quebec and eastern Ontario.” says Tom Windebank, manager of disaster services with the Canadian Red Cross in Toronto and a member of CARP.
All levels of government in Canada advise people to be prepared to take care of themselves for a minimum of 72 hours – this is because it may take emergency workers some time to get to you after a disaster. Tom says everyone should take the following three steps to prepare for an emergency….
First: Know the risks in your area and the additional risks you may have to face because of your individual needs – this could include the risks associated with living in an earthquake zone or an area prone to flooding, as well as the risks of living in a high-rise building (which can be a problem during a prolonged power outage) and ensuring an adequate supply of medication. You have to determine what your risks are.
Second: Based on the risks you’ve already identified, develop a plan of what to do in case of an emergency. The plan should include escape routes from your home and your community; a safe place to meet near home and outside your community; establishing a network of friends, relatives, health care providers and others who understand your needs and can help during an emergency; a plan for your pets; written instructions on what to do in specific circumstances e.g. a storm or a blackout; also a list of emergency contact numbers.
Third: Now that you have a plan, you can put together an emergency kit. A basic kit should be stored in an easy-to-transport container where it can be quickly picked up during an emergency. Your kit should include:
• Water – at least two litres of water per person per day
• Food that won’t spoil such as canned food, energy bars and dried fruits
• Manual can opener
• Wind-up or battery-operated flashlight (and extra batteries)
• Wind-up or battery-operated radio (and extra batteries)
• First aid kit
• Special items such as prescription medication and equipment for people with disabilities
• Extra keys for your car and house
• Some cash in smaller bills and change for payphones
• A copy of your emergency plan and contact information
Additional recommended items include: