Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Emergency Preparedness - Home Evacuation Plan

Disasters can strike anytime, anywhere, and in these situations, it might take emergency services some time to get to the affected areas and help rescue the affected families, sometimes as long as 72 hours. Hence, one should be prepared to take care of themselves and their family for at least 72 hours.

Below we will share an emergency plan and a checklist to build an emergency kit that will help you take care of yourself and your loved ones during an emergency.

Step 1. Know the risks

Although the consequences of various disasters can be similar, knowing the risks can help you better prepare. Across Canada, we face a number of hazards, such as floods, earthquakes, blizzards and tornadoes. In addition to natural disasters, there are other types of risks, such as power outages and industrial or transportation accidents.

Step 2. Make a plan

An emergency plan is needed by every household because you and your family should know what to do in case of an emergency. A plan only takes about 20 minutes to make.

Situations could be different when and if a disaster strikes. Your family might not be together when a disaster hits. In that case one should decide how to react collectively as a family. How to contact and meet in case of an emergency should be discussed and decided in advance.

Once you’ve come up with a plan, it’s imperative to keep a copy of it in an easily accessible place which is easy to find and is known to everyone. If possible keep a photocopy of it in your car or save a soft copy in your computer or smart phone.

One should also be aware about who might need some extra help within the neighborhood in case of a disaster emergency.

An emergency exit route must be drawn that should be followed to evacuate your house safely and easily. Copies of important documents should be made and must be kept in a safe place or ideally you should send them over to someone you know who lives out of town. If you find yourself at work during a disaster strike, make sure you’re fully aware of all the safety precautions outlined by your employer. The schools of your children must also have emergency plans, find out what they are and that your kids understand them fully well. Same goes for the pets, as you should have a clear understanding of what to
do to safely evacuate your pets too in an emergency.

If you or someone in your family has special health needs then it should be clearly written on paper and must be kept in an accessible place for people to make them easy to practice any health operations. One must also know the emergency telephone numbers by heart. Keep listening to the radio and TV news to know exactly what the situation is and whether when it is safer to move. Whenever evacuation orders are given by the authorities, make sure before leaving you let someone outside the town know of what will your new whereabouts be and make sure that all the electrical, gas and water items are turned off and that you have the emergency kit with you and do not return until the authorities allow so.

Step 3. Get an emergency kit

In an emergency, you will need some basic supplies. You may need to get by without water or power.

A basic emergency kit should include:
  • Water – at least two liters of water per person per day; include small bottles that can be carried easily in case of an evacuation order
  • Food that won't spoil, such as canned food, energy bars and dried foods (replace food and water once a year)
  • Manual can-opener
  • Crank or battery-powered flashlight (and extra batteries). Replace batteries once a year
  • Crank, battery-powered radio (and extra batteries) or Weather radio
  • First aid kit
  • Extra keys to your car and house
  • Some cash in smaller bills and change for payphones
  • A copy of your emergency plan and contact information
  • If applicable, other items such as prescription medication, infant formula, equipment for people with disabilities, or food, water and medication for your pets or service animal (personalize according to your needs)

Recommended additional items:
  • Two additional liters of water per person per day for cooking and cleaning
  • Candles and matches or lighter
  • Change of clothing and footwear for each household member
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each household member
  • Toiletries
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Utensils
  • Garbage bags
  • Toilet paper
  • Water purifying tablets
  • Basic tools (hammer, pliers, wrench, screwdrivers, work gloves, dust mask, pocket knife)
  • A whistle (in case you need to attract attention)
  • Duct tape (to tape up windows, doors, air vents, etc.)

By following these basic steps damage and loss can be avoided during an emergency. So be sure to have a plan, follow and stick to it should a disaster strike.

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