I discovered during a power outage that it would be useful to have an emergency kit. I had most of the items that would go in to a kit, however I was not organised and some things were not easy to find. If I were not home, my family would have scrambled.
I was thinking that flashlights, batteries, emergency phone numbers and insurance policy documents would be enough. Not so, the government of Canada suggests that every home be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. Here is how I put my basic kit together using the list from the Government of Canada Website.
I decided to put my kit together in two containers. Backpacks are recommended for their ease of grabbing and going. I chose coolers because I find it easier to find things in them, they are stack-able and I happened to have a couple coolers lying around. I also put the items in grocery bags so that if I have enough time during an evacuation emergency, I can grab the bags and fill the coolers with frozen items. The larger cooler contains the emergency food items. The smaller cooler contains the rest of the items on the list.
Water – at least 2 litres per person per day
I put in 3 litres. There are three people and a dog in my house. Well the dog drinks street water and never gets sick, so I am not worried about her. So I need at least 18 litres. I already put jugs of water in my chest freezer because a freezer works better when it is full and when there is a power outage, the frozen food will stay frozen longer. So I already have enough water on standby. I will add six 500 ml bottles to my kit to cover our thirst until a jug melts.
Food that won’t spoil, such as canned food, energy bars and dried foods
I usually keep my refrigerator and pantry full so any emergency where I still have access to my kitchen, I will be fine. I added food to the kit for the situation where I would have to grab-and-go. I put in high calorie cereal, peanut butter, crackers, cans of thick soup, cookies, apple sauce, pudding and trail mix.
Manual can opener
I already use a manual can opener, so my intention for adding one to the kit is for the grab-and-go situation. I decided to also add utensils and plastic cups. The plastic cups will serve as bowls for the soup.
Crank or battery-powered flashlight (and extra batteries)
I already keep a small LED flashlight in my purse. It is great and not very expensive. So I got two more LED flashlights and two packs of batteries for the kit.
Crank or battery-powered radio (and extra batteries)
I don’t get my news and weather from the radio anymore. I use my cell phone to connect with the world. I added a spare charger to the kit. I think it would be wise to get battery back up for my cell phone.
First aid kit
I keep a comprehensive first aid kit for everyday use in my washroom. For the emergency first aid kit I added the following items to the emergency first aid kit:
- adhesive bandages
- gauze 10 cm x 10 cm and a roll of adhesive tape
- sterile wipes
- tweezers, nail clippers, scissors
- triangular bandages
- 5 days worth of prescription medication
- non-prescription medication for headaches, fever, and allergies
Extra keys (vehicle and home)
I connected the extra keys to the smaller flashlight so that they would be easy to find.
Cash in smaller bills, and change for payphones ATMs may not work in an emergency
I put $40 aside in a small change purse. My concern is whether or not it will still be there in an emergency. It may be too convenient to access the cash for non-emergency situations.
A copy of your emergency plan and contact information
I prepared a large envelop to contain the emergency plan and copies of important documents. On the outside of the envelop, I wrote in large letters the following key phone numbers:
- Fire, Police, Ambulance: 911
- City of Toronto: 311
- Toronto Hydro (to report outages, wires down): 416.542.800
- Utility Companies – Enbridge Gas (to report emergencies such as smell gas): 1.866.763.5427
Special items such as prescription medication, infant formula, equipment for people with disabilities, pet supplies
I considered the extra items in the other categories.
There you have it. My first emergency kit. The next question is where do I put the kit? I’ve decided to put the kit on the shelves next to my chest freezer. This way it will be accessible, we will notice it every time we go to the freezer and yet it will be out of the way of the curious hands of my youngest child and her friends. (Also, part of my emergency plan involves the freezer.) I am not closing the coolers tightly, because I usually get mold. I loosely taped the lids closed with dated masking tape so that I know when I last checked them. The government recommends that the batteries, food and water gets replaced annually.