Ok, now we’re onto the fun bit – Part Two: Build an Emergency Kit.
Let’s start with a quick game. If you had five minutes to get out of your home and you had time to grab five items, what would they be? And do you know where they are?
If I’d played this game a couple of years ago before I became an Emergency Program Coordinator, my list would have included my cell phone, family photos, my childhood teddy bear (yes, at 30 years old I would grab my beloved stuffie), rain boots and my favourite jacket. I guess there was some hope for me with my practical choice in footwear…
In an emergency, you may be without power or running water. Or you may have to leave your home in a hurry. Having an emergency kit that is easy to get to will save you a lot of unnecessary stress. Your kit should include things like a first aid kit, flash light, a three day supply of food and water and a cell phone with its charger.
Rachael, this is starting to sound expensive! I hear you cry. Don’t worry, an emergency kit can be built on a budget. The avid campers among us might even find they have most of this stuff squirreled away in their summer camping boxes.
Let’s get started.
Storage: First of all you will need some boxes or a duffel bag – personally I really like the good ol’ blue Rubbermaids because they are sturdy and can be easily carried out to the car if we had to make a break for it.
Water: The minimum requirement is four litres of water per person, per day. And don’t forget an average sized cat or dog will need at least half a cup of water each day. Water can be purchased super cheap at Walmart – $15 should get you your minimum requirements.
Food: Non-perishable is the way to go here: canned goods, pasta, granola bars, trail mix and anything dehydrated. To build up a three day supply, start with adding an extra $5-$10 to your weekly grocery budget, add a bag of pasta here and a can of tuna there and by the end of summer you’ll have a feast fit for kings. If you want to get super creative, try your hand at canning. There are endless fruits and veggies that grow here in the summer just begging to be taken advantage of.
First Aid Kit: A good starter kit can be purchased from London Drugs for around $20. You may need to customize your kit depending on your family’s needs. The first aid kit is a great place to put extra prescription medications and eye glasses.
Toiletries and Garbage Bags: Even in the face of an emergency, hygiene is key – especially if you and your family are stuck together in close quarters. Garbage bags are very handy and can be purchased fairly cheap pretty much anywhere, or if you want to be really thrifty take some from your supply under the kitchen sink. Include things like wet wipes, deodorant and dry shampoo in your emergency kit. And let’s not forget the oh-so-important toilet paper.
Electronics: Include a spare cell phone and with charger, or at the very least a spare charger. If your house is anything like mine, there are spare charger cables hiding all over the place – find one and pop it in your kit. A wind-up or battery powered radio is super handy to have so that you can stay informed should Facebook fail. Unfortunately these aren’t cheap but can usually be picked up at a reputable camping store. A wind-up or battery powered flashlight is also a key component to any emergency kit. And, of course, spare batteries.
Other handy bits and pieces: A map of the local area, $50 cash in small bills, a whistle, duct tape, aluminum foil, Ziplock bags, matches (in a waterproof container), pens and paper, glow sticks, rope, a shovel and a utility knife may all prove invaluable. Most of these items can be obtained from the kitchen, garage or garden shed.
Clothing and footwear: When an emergency happens, it might be freezing cold, boiling hot, raining, snowing or – if this spring has been anything to go by – all of the above. The clothing and footwear in your emergency kit doesn’t have to be stylish, an old jacket and pair of sneakers will do the trick. Include a toque and a sunhat too, perhaps some old thermals if you have some kicking around, then you are prepared for all eventualities. And gloves – warm gloves and gardening gloves should see you through.
Entertainment: Three days alone with your family with nothing to entertain yourselves with…that could be an emergency situation all on its own. Throw in a pack of cards or a crib board for the grownups and some crayons, colouring books and small games to keep the kids occupied. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
Pets: Have a bag of food, a food and water dish, a spare leash and collar, a toy and a blanket packed for Kitty and Fido.
If you are a family of four or more, you may find your emergency kit is a little cumbersome, so don’t be afraid to divide it into smaller kits – one for each person.
And finally, if you love camping as much as I do, you’ll be well on your way to a half-decent emergency kit: sleeping bags, sleeping mats, camp stove, kitchen utensils, flashlights, water containers…keep it all in boxes or on a shelf in the garage that is easily accessible. Then you can grab the whole lot and load it into the car in a hurry – in an emergency or if you just need a weekend getaway.