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How to prepare for an emergency at home

Dealing with an emergency at home is never easy – but it can be easier to manage when you’ve completed some simple tasks ahead of time and have a plan in place to help keep your whole household safe if the unexpected happens. Keep these tips in mind:

Research your regional risks. Before an emergency happens, find out what types of risks are common in your province or territory and get familiar with the Government of Canada’s emergency preparedness recommendations.

Keep an eye on the weather. If a major storm or other weather event is on its way, the local news or weather station will likely be talking about it. If you aren’t already in the habit of checking the news or weather regularly, you can set alerts on your phone so you’ll hear about special weather warnings right away.

Map out your exit strategy. Create a map of your home and the surrounding area, and clearly mark a backup emergency exit from each room (if the window is the best exit besides the door, make sure each person in your household knows how to open the window from the inside). If you live in an apartment or condo, the elevators could be unsafe to use during an emergency, so learn the best ways to get out without them.

Decide where you’ll meet if you need to leave your home. Choose a distinctive spot on the same side of the street as your home so no one will have to cross the road, especially with little ones or pets in tow. In case of an emergency that requires you to leave your immediate neighbourhood, choose a safe spot a few blocks away. Mark these meeting spots on your map.

Update your emergency contact list. Write down the phone numbers for local emergency services, your hydro and gas providers, relatives you may need to reach in an emergency, your family doctor, and your insurance broker in case you need to make a claim. Better yet, save these numbers on your phone.

Don’t forget your pets. In case of an emergency, the best way to protect your pets is to take them with you if you leave your home. There’s a chance you may not be able to go back home right away, so you may want to research pet-friendly hotels, kennels, or emergency shelters and keep them in your emergency contact list. Research what to pack in your pet’s emergency kit.

Plan for a power outage. Some emergencies may have you stranded at home, without electricity. Learn what to do before, during, and after a power outage and make sure you’re prepared.

Review your home insurance policy. The last thing you should have to think about while you’re dealing with an emergency is whether or not your home insurance will cover the damage. If it’s been a while since you’ve reviewed your policy, update your home inventory and talk to your licensed broker to make sure you have the right coverage in place.

Know what to do before, during, and after specific severe weather events.

Prepare your home emergency kit. It’s a good idea to keep a well-stocked emergency kit on hand at all times. Your emergency kit should contain at least three days’ worth of supplies for each member of your household, including pets. Check these items off your list:

  • Cash
  • A portable charger for your cell phone
  • A battery-powered radio
  • Bottled water
  • Non-perishable food (including pet food)
  • A list of emergency contacts
  • Blankets
  • A flashlight and extra batteries
  • Candles, matches, and a lighter
  • A first-aid kit
  • Extra keys to your car and home
  • Special items like prescription medications or baby formula

Once you’ve done all this, print out a few copies of your family’s emergency preparedness resources, including your map and emergency contact list. Store at least one copy of the plan on each level of your home, put one in your car, and keep a digital copy on each family member’s phone.

What to do if your home is damaged

In the event that your home is damaged because of a weather-related emergency, reach out to your broker right away. If it’s outside of your broker’s regular business hours, call your insurance company’s 24-hour claims service line.

Source: Stephanie Fereiro for Economical Insurance


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