Thursday, July 10, 2014
Our worsening weather conditions and the increasing likelihood of disasters place the responsibility squarely on families to know what to do in case of emergencies. The government and non-governmental organisations can build emergency shelters, temporarily feed us and re-build our homes much later, but in event of a devastating flood or other forces of nature, we must be able to survive for at least the first 72 hours without help. Here are some things to remember:
- Keep your home properly maintained so it has the best chance of remaining a safe space during extreme wind and flooding.
- Put together an emergency kit that contains everything necessary for survival. This should include a whistle, flares, flashlight, a portable radio, spare batteries, non-perishable food items such as canned food items and a can opener, crackers, dried fruit, water, personal hygiene items, cash, important documents, prescription medication, infant formula, pet food and possibly warm clothes and some basic tools.
- The emergency kit should contain basic medical supplies to deal with injuries. A variety of bandages, anti-inflammatory meds, disinfectants, burn and antibiotic ointments, anti-diarrhoea medication and a pain reliever are essential. It also helps if one person in the family has some basic medical aid.
- If you want to ensure you have everything, 72Hours Survival Canada and the Red Cross sell emergency kits for your home and car (72Hours SurvivalCanada, 2014; Red Cross Canada, 2014).
- Remember to change the items in the kit when they reach their used-by dates.
- Your family must have an evacuation plan with several routes to get out of the house, and a place to meet up outside. Everyone must know who will grab the emergency kit, a cell phone and turn off electricity and water, if there is time.
- Every family member should know where to turn off the water, gas and electricity, and a wrench should be easily available to close difficult taps.
- Keep emergency phone numbers beside the phone and stored on all the cell phones in the house. Include an ambulance, fire department, police, a veterinary surgeon and a taxi service for family members who cannot drive.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors outside the bedrooms and a fire extinguisher on each level of your home. Replace the batteries every five to ten years.
With these measures in place, your family has the best chance to survive a major emergency.