What you need to have prepared to “Live to Tell” after a disaster

The United Nations has declared October 13 the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR), aimed at encouraging citizens and governments to take part in building more disaster-resilient communities and nations. The 2016 IDDR theme is “Live to Tell.” This year’s campaign is called the Sendai Seven, which is centred on the seven targets of the Sendai Framework—the first of which is reducing disaster mortality.

Around the world, natural and man-made disasters displace millions of people each year – 19.3 million people in 2014 alone, as reported by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.

While Canadians are fortunate to live in a relatively conflict-free region, natural disasters are becoming increasingly common. Canada has an average of 62 tornadoes each year, and floods displaced more than 11,000 Manitoba and Saskatchewan residents in 2007. More recently, the devastating Fort McMurray wild fire, the Calgary floods, and viral magazine articles about the Pacific Coast’s mega-earthquake risk all served as searing reminders that adequate preparation may one day mean the difference between life and death.

GetPrepared.ca, the Government of Canada’s emergency preparedness website, provides a step-by-step guide for preparing an emergency kit and an emergency preparedness plan to equip you and your family. It also provides communication tips and strategies, including a recommendation to use text messaging, email or social media instead of telephones if a disaster occurs. Doing so requires less bandwidth and helps reduce network congestion – and may work when phones don’t.

Preparing an emergency kit

An emergency kit should contain everything you and your family need to survive the first 72 hours after a disaster without help from emergency personnel. It’s important that it be easily accessible and portable should you need to leave your home. Using a spare backpack or wheeled suitcase will ensure you are ready to go if required to evacuate. Remember to replace food, water and batteries once a year.

You’ll need:

- Six litres of water per person

- Enough canned, dried and shelf-stable food for each member of your family for at least three days, along with a manual can opener and eating utensils

- Flashlight and extra batteries

- Battery-powered or wind-up radio

- Extra cell phone charger

- First aid kit

- Extra keys for your car and house

- Cash, including small bills and change

- Portable equipment for family members with disabilities

- A copy of your family’s emergency plan, including contact information and meeting places. Take 20 minutes to prepare and print your plan now.

- An adequate supply of your prescription medications. Talk to your pharmacist about what you’ll need to have on hand in the event of a disaster, how you should store your medications, and how often to replace your emergency supply.

Read: Travelling with medication? Don't forget these crucial Rx safety tips

Participate in the UNISDR THUNDERCLAP on Twitter on October 13 #IDDR2016 and help raise awareness of emergency preparedness.