Emergencies happen with little or no warning. They can cause significant damage to your home through a fire or flooding from a burst pipe, or devastate our community through an earthquake, tsunami, or viral outbreak. You and your family can stay safe by having a plan and resources ready before a crisis happens.
Earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and wildfires are just some of the potential hazards in B.C. Familiarize yourself with the ones that could occur in your community.
Prepare Your Family
A household plan will help you cope with the stress of emergencies
Please check out the Household Preparedness Guide and Household Emergency Plan below:
Build an Emergency Kit
When disaster hits, there won’t be time to collect emergency supplies. Ensure you have emergency kits for your home, workplace and vehicle. They should all contain food, water and supplies for a minimum of 72 hours. A week or longer is better.
Creating a home emergency kit doesn’t need to take long. Just follow the basic list below. In addition, remember to add personal items, such as prescription medications or an extra pair of eyeglasses.
Always make sure emergency kits are in easily accessible locations.
Here is a video that will help you built a basic emergency kit
The Importance of Water
How much is enough?
The general rule is four litres of water per person per day, but there are a few caveats:
- Children, nursing mothers and sick people may need more
- If you live in a warm region of B.C., hot temperatures can double water needs
- Pets need about 30 millilitres of water per kilogram of body weight per day. For example, an average-sized cat or small-sized dog needs at least 1/5 of a litre, or half a cup, daily
- How and where do I store my water?It’s recommended you purchase commercially-bottled water and keep it in its original container in an easily accessible, cool and dark place. Don’t open it until you need it.Observe the expiration or “best before” dates. Set a reminder in your phone or remember to check the dates when the clocks “spring forward” and “fall back”.
- What hidden water sources are available in my home?It’s easy to locate safe water sources in your home. These include the water in your hot-water tank, pipes and ice cubes. It’s recommended you don’t use water from toilet tanks or bowls, radiators, waterbeds, swimming pools or spas. Read more…
- Can I purify my own water?We recommend purchasing commercially-bottled water; however, the Ministry of Health has information on the steps you can take to purify and bottle your own.
- What about water filtration devices?These devices are becoming more and more popular, perhaps because they don’t take up as much room as several litres of bottled water. There are a lot of different options out there – different brands offer many different types, ranging from water bottle-sized to 18-litre containers or larger. If you choose to go this route, it’s still not a bad idea to store some bottled water as well.
Don’t count on being home when there’s an emergency. In addition to having one at home, create grab-and-go bags for your work and vehicles that contain:
- Food (ready to eat) and water
- Flashlight and batteries
- AM/FM radio
- Seasonal clothing
- Cell phone charger
- Pen and notepad
- Personal toiletries
- Small First-Aid kit
- Extra pair of glasses or contacts
- Cash in small bills
- Local map with your family meeting place identified
Purifying Your Drinking Water
Few things are more important to your health and survival during a long emergency than having water that is safe to drink. Knowing how to purify water can help you if your regular water supply becomes contaminated or if you are in a place where clean water is not available. Even if you have stored clean water to use in an emergency, you may run out before the emergency situation has ended.
Water purification can greatly reduce your chance of getting sick from bacteria, viruses, and other living organisms in the water. You can disinfect water using one of the following methods:
- Bring the water to a rolling boil for 1 minute. If you are at an elevation of 2000 m (6500 ft) or higher, boil the water for 3 minutes. This is the most effective purification method. But may be impractical if you need large quantities of water. It also requires a heat source, which you may not have in some emergency situations. If fuel or power for your heat source is limited, bringing the water to a boil will usually disinfect it, even if you cannot boil it for the recommended time.
- Or add 4 drops of household liquid bleach for each litre of water, stir, and let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not smell slightly like bleach after 30 minutes, add 4 more drops of bleach and let it stand for another 15 minutes. You should notice a bleach smell.
- Or use iodine or chlorine purification tablets or drops. You can get these at stores that sell camping equipment and at some pharmacies. Follow the instructions on the package. Purification tablets are not as effective as boiling or disinfecting with bleach. But they do kill some types of organisms.
- Or use water filters that can get rid of some microorganisms and improve the taste of water. There are many different types of filters. So be sure that you know what kinds of organisms your filter is effective for.
None of the purification methods described above eliminates heavy metals, salts, chemicals, or radioactive dust or dirt (fallout) from water. Many of these substances can be removed by distilling water, a more complicated method of purifying water.
Radioactive fallout can also be minimized using a homemade filter:
- Punch holes in the bottom of a bucket, and cover the bottom with 4 cm (1.5 in.) of gravel. Cover the gravel with a towel.
- Place the bucket over a larger container, and pour the water into the bucket so that it filters through the towel and gravel and drains into the container below.
- Disinfect the water by boiling, adding chlorine bleach, or using purification tablets as described above.
- Replace the gravel after every 50 L (50 qt) of water.
Meet Your NEIGHBORS
When disaster strikes, we’re in it together. The most immediate help following a disaster will come from those directly around – your neighbors. Connecting with them today, and working together to prepare, will mean a better response and faster recovery. Here is a Neighborhood Preparedness Guide and Apartments, Condos and Townhomes Guide.
Resources are also available for those with Disabilities