I wanted to write about emergency preparedness because it’s an important topic, if left in an emergency situation could you survive? Could you take care of your family for days without outside help?

As hurricane Earl is tracking it’s way along the East Coast I’m preparing my house and property and bracing for the high winds and rain. I’m not generally a person that is left completely unprepared in emergency situations because I’m a planner and a worrier, nonetheless I did make some extra preparations for this storm.

I cleaned up outside and secured anything that could be blown away, planters were put in the shed and the garbage bins were put out of the wind behind the shed so there’s no nasty blown around garbage to clean up tomorrow! I also made sure that the hose for our sump pump was unrolled and extended from the house… and last but not least I asked my father to cut down a dead tree that was very close to the house… just in case!

Taking down the ugly tree

I’m writing this (Saturday) as the winds are wreaking havoc on the trees outside and the rain is pouring down. I’m very happy that I did insist on the tree being cut down because another very large chestnut tree next to my property just lost 1/5th of it’s size as a large chunk of it just broke off. It’s a tree that I estimate to be about a hundred years old so you can imagine the size. My insurance would cover the damage (wind) but it’s something I’d rather avoid! (Because it’s only September the trees still carry their leaves which makes them even more susceptible to wind damage.)

BUT, back to emergency preparedness. It is generally suggested to have an emergency kit ready to go to cover the span of about 72 hours while you wait for help, http://72hours.org/ is a site that has some great information on how and what to prepare so you are ready for an emergency situation. Are you prepared? is the Canadian version and has great tips on how to put together an emergency kit and be prepared.

Personally I don’t just get ready when bad weather is predicted, I am always ready. While some people find this a bit depressing and may call it a doom-and-gloom mentality. It gives me a sense of peace knowing that if something happens, I will be ready, this is how;

1. I carry an emergency kit with me in my car. It contains; a flare, a flashlight, supplies to fix a broken down tire, a blanket, glow sticks, jumper cables, extra batteries, band-aids, scissors and some other small items. I never drive on an empty tank of gas and my cellphone also functions as a radio. These small things help me feel safe when weather gets bad and may help me if I get stuck somewhere.

2. I rotate canned goods through my pantry. I buy things in bulk when they are on sale to save money, label them with dates and restock as necessary. I always ensure I have enough variety canned food to survive for a few days. Generally I have enough for weeks-months.I don’t use electric kitchen gadgets so manual can openers are standard in my kitchen.

3. I have a wood stove and several days of wood stocked in the sun room. I also have flashlights planted throughout the house as well as candles, several lighters and boxes of matches. (You may want to reconsider locations for these if you have kids) I have a flashlight in the kitchen, the basement, the sun room and two in the bedroom. They come in very handy when the power goes out unexpectedly!

4. For general safety I have a fire extinguisher at the bottom of the stairs in the living room and a kitchen extinguisher on the wall next tot the fridge. I have a carbon monoxide alarm in the living room and four other other smoke detectors spread through the house (stairs, sun room, living room, basement)

5. I have a first aid kit in the bathroom that can be easily grabbed if needed. Rubbing alcohol, tweezers, several sizes of band-aids, scissors and bandaging can come in very handy.

6. I carry appropriate home, car and life insurance to cover things that I can’t. I am also aware of the limits of what the policies will and will not cover. While it is almost impossible to remember every clause in your policy, you should be aware of some of the limits of your policy. Does your policy cover sewer back up? If not, can you add it? What about a tree falling into your house, is that covered?

Buy this disaster kit at redcross.ca

7. The emergency kit itself. (While I do not have this put together in one bag yet I do have all the supplies.) I intend to put these items into a bag that is easy to carry – perhaps an old kitbag and to put this upstairs in the closet immediately next to the stairs or in a cupoard by our front door so it can be easily grabbed if we have to go. I’m planning to use Are you prepared? as a reference guide to putting my kit together. This pdf list will be of great help while I do this. For those people that don’t want to gather all this stuff  themselves, Red Cross has a great solution;  you can buy a kit already put together online here; DISASTER PREPAREDNESS KIT – RED BAG

Those are seven ways that I prepare myself and my house for emergency situations, this is especially important to me in the winter. We don’t get really bad weather in general but there are those few storms where roads are bad and I may not be able to leave the house for a day or two. It feels good to be ready and certainly adds to my peace of mind! This also ties in financially for me. Being prepared means that I don’t suffer foreseeable damages (- don’t park your car under a hanging tree when a hurricane is forecast) and having my emergency fund ready is certainly helpful in these situations – I don’t want to be left standing with empty hands.

How do you prepare for emergencies? Is it something that’s on your mind or are you completely unprepared? I’d love to hear your comments below!

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