It’s important to plan in advance for alternative ways of caring for your needs if normal community services have been disrupted. The information provided in these lists offers suggestions and safety tips to help you prepare for the unexpected.
- Store two or three alternative sources of light:
- Home power-failure lights are an inexpensive way to provide immediate emergency lighting during power failures.
- Flashlights — solar, windup, shake-up or battery-operated.
- Light sticks – these can provide light for 1 to 12 hours. (They’re also great if there is concern about gas leaks, as these won’t ignite the gas).
- Candles – kept in candle holders or glass jars taller than the candle in case the candle is knocked over.
- Camping lanterns – store extra fuel, wicks, mantles and matches – use only outdoors.
Make sure you have at least one alternative way to cook your food:
- Barbecues, camp stoves, Sterno stoves and hibachis. Store extra propane, charcoal, lighter fluid and matches outside.
- Outdoor chiminea or camp fire pit.
- Fireplaces – inspect chimney and flue for cracks before using.
- Fondue pots and chafing dishes – store extra fuel.
- Pressure Cookers and old fashioned hay boxes can reduce fuel consumption.
- Heavy-duty aluminium foil – requires less clean up than a pan.
- Paper plates and cups, plastic utensils and paper towels.
Make sure you have other shelter options available in case your home is too damaged or flooded.
- Tent or waterproof tarp
- Sleeping bags
- Mylar blankets
- Newspapers (for insulation)
- Air mattresses or cots
If the water or septic field lines are damaged or if damage is suspected, do not flush the toilet. Avoid digging holes in the ground as untreated raw sewage can pollute fresh ground water supplies, attract flies and spread disease. Instead, temporarily store human waste in plastic bags, as per the guidelines below:
- Store a large supply of heavy-duty plastic bags, twist ties, disinfectant (powdered chlorinated lime – but not quick lime), and toilet paper.
- A good disinfectant that is easy to use is a solution of 1 part liquid bleach to 10 parts water (dry, powdered bleach is caustic and not safe for this use).
- If toilets cannot be flushed, remove water from the bowl, stuff with a rag and line it with a heavy-duty plastic bag. After use, add a small amount of deodorant or disinfectant. When bag is full, securely tie the bag, and dispose of it in a large trashcan with a tight fitting lid.
- Portable camp toilets, small trash cans or sturdy buckets lined with heavy-duty plastic bags are other alternatives for waste disposal.
- Large zip lock plastic bags and toilet paper should be kept at work and in the car for use if you are away from home.
- Commercially-available human waste bags will gel the waste and start to biodegrade it instantly.
- If you have a camper or trailer, you may already have all the emergency supplies you need. Remember to restock so that your emergency home away from home is ready for emergencies.
- Perishable supplies will remain stable longer if they are stored in a cool, dark place.
- One method of storing emergency supplies is to place them in a large, covered garbage can, preferably plastic or rubber and on wheels. Put the contents inside a tightly-closed plastic bag before placing them in the can. Label the can with its contents.
- In a shed or other outbuildings, make sure that all supplies are up off cement floors (condensation will rust cans), and away from gasoline and chemicals that can contaminate your supplies.
- Be sure that squirrels and mice can’t get into them and don’t use outdoor storage or unheated attics for goods that can be damaged by freezing.
- Also consider a closet floor, behind a sofa or under a bed preferably close to an exit.