It’s Emergency Preparedness Week across the country – are you ready?

Emergencies can happen anywhere, anytime, such as the floods occurring in New Brunswick and Quebec, the heavier than usual snowfall this winter in Ontario or the blackout of August 2003 across much of North America. This week – May 4 to 10 – is Emergency Preparedness Week across Canada with the theme "72 Hours – Is Your Family Prepared?".

It’s up to everyone to be prepared to cope for at least 72 hours during an emergency or disaster situation, but Kathy Branton, manager of York’s Emergency Preparedness Program, wonders who will be ready.

"In the event of a major emergency, the first responders – police, fire, ambulance – will be extremely busy responding to the emergency and assisting those in immediate danger. If you are not in immediate danger, it may take some time for the emergency services to reach you," says Branton. "Therefore, it is the responsibility of each one of us to make sure we have an emergency kit at home, at work and in the car to, cope on our own for at least 72 hours."

Branton says it’s important to remember that faculty, staff and students are not immune to emergencies at York and they should also be prepared. Keep an emergency kit in the car and in the office. Students living in residence should also try to create even a small kit with the bare essentials in it. It’s harder to do on a restricted budget, but not impossible. Branton suggests using creativity to find ways to store a few essentials, such as getting together with others in the area and chipping in for a group kit or a kit for each floor in residence.

Communities all across the country will be holding events to promote personal preparedness. Check your local community’s Web site or newspaper to see what’s going on in the area.

Some tips to help you be prepared:

  • Always keep at least half a tank of gas in your vehicle
  • Keep some bottled water and non-perishable foods in your room/office/car (granola bars, cookies, pudding or fruit cups, etc.)
  • Always keep a small amount of cash tucked away for emergencies (bank machines won’t work in a power outage)
  • Keep your cell phone/BlackBerry fully charged
  • Keep a blanket in your car
  • Keep a flashlight in your car/office/room and keep the batteries fresh (change them in the spring and fall when the time changes – that’s a good time to change the batteries in your smoke detectors too!)
  • Keep a battery- or crank-operated radio on hand as well, and keep those batteries fresh as well.

The following is a list of some of the items to keep in your kit as recommended by Public Safety Canada. Car kit items will vary depending on the season.

Car Kit:

  • Axe
  • Booster cable
  • Blankets/sleeping bag
  • Bottled water
  • Candle in a deep can & matches
  • Cloth/paper towels
  • Duct tape
  • Extra clothing and footwear
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Ice scraper/brush
  • Maps
  • Money
  • Non-perishable food
  • Reflective safety vest
  • Road flares
  • Sand, salt, or kitty litter
  • Seatbelt cutter
  • Shovel
  • Tow Chain
  • Whistle

The following is a list of items that should be in a home kit. A home kit should be able to sustain residents for at least 72 hours. Some elements of the home kit can also be part of an evacuation kit.

Home Kit:

  • Backpack/duffel bag
  • Basic tools
  • Bottled water (minimum of three days)
  • Candles and waterproof matches
  • Camping knife
  • Change of clothing
  • Corded phone
  • Duct tape
  • Emergency phone list
  • Extra car & house keys
  • Extra pair of eye glasses
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight and spare batteries
  • Copies of important documents
  • Garbage bags
  • Manual can opener
  • Medication
  • Money/traveller’s cheques
  • Non-perishable food
  • One sleeping bag/blanket per person
  • Personal care/hygiene items
  • Playing cards/board games/books
  • Radio (battery/crank operated)
  • Whistle

For more information, visit the York Emergency Preparedness Program Web site or contact Kathy Branton at or ext. 55258.

Also, check the federal government’s Get Prepared Web site for a downloadable personal preparedness guide.