Every person must have a personal or family emergency plan. To ensure your safety and well-being, and that of your family, you can prepare now to take care of your basic needs for at least the first 72 hours following a disaster. Follow the 26 tips on this page (once a week or every two weeks), and within 6 months (or one year), you will be prepared. Be a hero, be prepared!
Get a portable container (or containers depending on the size of your family) with a lid to use as an emergency kit that will hold all your family’s emergency supplies for 72 hours. A plastic storage bin or garbage can works and one with wheels is ideal. Label the container and keep it in an accessible location near an exit, and make sure all family members know where it is.
Everyone needs water - even your pets. The first item you can add to your Emergency Kit is a three-day supply of water (and water purification tablets) - four litres of water per person per day (two for drinking and two for food preparation and hygiene). Add extra water for your pets.
Arrange an out-of-area contact person and make sure each family member has that person’s numbers with them all the time by completing an out-of-area contact card (PDF). Choose an emergency contact who lives outside our province who will not be affected by a major event, such as an earthquake. Try text messaging, email or social media to communicate before calling your emergency contact because in an emergency, local phone and mobile networks could be overwhelmed or unavailable.
When you reach your emergency contact:
It’s important to stock your emergency kit with appropriate varieties and types of food for each family member to sustain them for at least 72 hours - don’t forget to include a manual can opener! Suggested items include:
Make sure you replace food items on a regular basis, (quarterly or semi-annually) to ensure fresh supplies are always in your kit.
In the case of a natural disaster or some other emergency, there may be no electricity so you cannot find out what is going on by watching television or accessing computers, or even using your cell phone. That is why another essential piece in any emergency preparedness kit is a portable radio with extra batteries or a hand crank radio. You can find these at electronics stores or outdoor supplies stores.
Do a home hazard hunt to make your home safe. Find out what the hazards are in your community.
Divide up the responsibility of specific safety tasks amongst family members for an emergency. For example - turning off electricity, collecting the emergency container(s), tracking down family members, and taking charge of family members with special health or mobility needs and lastly, taking care of any family pets. Everyone can pitch in, and knowing their role can help them understand the importance of emergency planning.
Ensure your family has an evacuation plan from your home that includes a safe family meeting place and ensure all family members know the plan. Identify the safest places in your home and on your property in the case of an emergency. Practice emergency drills (drop, cover hold on) and evacuation drills using two different escape routes from each room. Be a hero, be prepared.
Stock your emergency kit with both large and medium-sized plastic garbage bags (orange or yellow make good visible signals). These are useful for personal hygiene and the large bags can also be used as ponchos, ground covers or blankets. Also add plastic or paper dishes and cutlery to your kit.
Add a flashlight and extra batteries, along with candles and waterproof matches to your emergency kit.
After a disaster, you may need to replace lost or damaged household items large and small, as well as make other type of financial recoveries. Check all your insurance policies - business, residence and vehicles - and make records of all your possessions so replacement can be more straightforward if necessary. Place copies (paper or digital) of all policies in your emergency kit.
Prepare a first-aid kit that includes:
You won’t know how long you may not have access to your home, or what may remain after a disaster but you will need clothing. Add a change of clothing for each family member including warm clothing for winter and lighter for summer months (shorts, t-shirts, fleece, sweat pants, socks, shoes, etc.). Also pack heavy work gloves and sturdy shoes.
Every family member has different needs; don’t forget to add personal toiletry items / supplies for each of them to your emergency preparedness kit. Gather personal toiletry items needed by all family members:
After a disaster, help may not be able to get to you, and you might have to take care of your own personal needs. You and your family should be able to take care of your basic needs for at least 72 hours after a disaster - be a hero, and be prepared - attend an emergency preparedness training session so you can learn how to get prepared. You can also inquire with the City Emergency program office staff to book your own session. Visit our Training page for more information.
Do you have family members with special needs such as a baby, senior or someone with a disability? Are you prepared to take care of them after the crisis of a disaster? If you have babies or toddlers in your family, pack infant supplies such as disposable diapers, disposable bottles, formula, teething ointments/products, skin care products, etc. in your emergency kit. Add supplies for the frail, elderly and those with disabilities. Take care of your most vulnerable.
Pets are family members with special needs during and following a disaster. Are you prepared to care for your pet? Compile your pet emergency kit:
Attend a Disaster Preparedness and Basic First Aid for Pets training session.
After an emergency or disaster, you will need access to a variety of important documents and want to know any family photo albums have been preserved. Take some time now to assemble important documents and identification - both paper and/or digital copies - like wills, passports, insurance papers, medical records, inventory of possessions, identification, etc., and place them in a fireproof/ waterproof container. Don’t forget to include family photo albums.
There are many reasons why after a disaster you may need blankets or sleeping bags to keep warm. You could be evacuated or your home and its belongings may be severely damaged. The comfort of being able to keep warm and dry can be life-saving. Add sleeping bags, blankets and/or thermal insulated covers to your kit.
After a disaster, you might not be displaced but still able to stay in your home; however, there will likely be damage and you will require protection from the elements. Store duct tape as well as plastic sheeting and they can be used to cover up damaged doors and windows.
Meet with neighbours to discuss emergency preparedness and potentially sharing resources. Book a Personal, Family and Community Emergency Preparedness session with the Coquitlam Emergency Management Program Office for your group. We’d love to help you prepare for an emergency. Or, attend an upcoming emergency preparedness session with your family, friends and neighbours - we have a number of session dates to choose from. Visit our Training page for more information.
Get a large bucket with a tightfitting lid to to store emergency tools like:
Include necessities like:
Importantly, your container could also be used as a temporary toilet.
Enroll one or more family members in a first-aid course, and include a HELP / OK sign with your kit that can advise emergency personnel on your status.
Make sure children know their last name, phone number, address, and number for the out-of-area contact person in case you are separated during or after a disaster.
Understand where your community’s disaster response routes are, your evacuation plan at your workplace and what your children’s school or daycare emergency policies are. Disaster Response Routes are a network of roads intended to allow emergency services to travel where needed during disasters. Learning to recognize these routes is an important step in preparing for an earthquake or other disaster.
Celebrate that you have compiled all the supplies that are required to take care of your and your family’s basic needs for 72 hours. Share your experience with friends and neighbours, and help them Be a Hero and Be Prepared!