Essential Steps in Building a Personal Emergency Plan

  1. Create an emergency communications plan
    Choose an out-of-town contact whom your family or household will call or e-mail, in the event of an emergency. Choose someone who lives far enough away that the individual is unlikely to be directly affected by the same event, and be sure to tell that person that he or she is your designated contact. Make a list of your designated contact’s telephone numbers (home, work, cellular or pager) and e-mail addresses for everyone in the family or household. Make sure everyone has a copy of this list. Provide this same information to your workplace.
  2. Establish a Meeting Place
    Having a predetermined meeting place away from your home will save time and minimize confusion in an emergency situation. Be sure to include arrangements for any pets in these plans since pets are not permitted in shelters and some hotels will not accept them.
  3. Emergency Kits
    You should be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for a minimum of 72 hours during an emergency.

    A basic home emergency kit should include:
    • Flashlight and batteries/spare batteries
    • Radio and batteries or crank radio
    • Basic tools (hammer, pliers/wrench, screwdriver)
    • First-aid kit, medication
    • Candles and matches/lighter
    • Extra keys to your car and house
    • Some cash in small bills such as $10 bills and change for payphones
    • Important papers (identification)
    • Non-perishable food and bottled water (more details below)
    • Clothing and footwear
    • Blankets or sleeping bags
    • Toilet paper and other personal items
    • Whistle (to attract attention, if needed)
    • Playing cards, games

    Recommended additional items for a home emergency kit:
    • 2 additional litres of water per person per day for cooking and cleaning
    • Food that won’t spoil such as canned goods, energy bars and dried foods (replace food and water once a year)
    • Manual can opener
    • Sturdy containers for candles
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Toiletries
    • Utensils
    • Garbage bags
    • Household chlorine bleach or water purifying tablets
    • Small fuel operated stove and fuel
    • Duct tape (to tape up windows, doors, air vents, etc.)

    View a short video “Preparing a Family Emergency Kit”.

    Canadian Red Cross kits can be purchased at

    St. John Ambulance and Salvation Army emergency kits can be purchased at
  4. Emergency Vehicle Kit:
    • Blanket
    • Candle in a deep can and matches
    • Extra clothing and shoes
    • First aid kit with seatbelt cutter
    • Flashlight (crank or battery-powered)
    • Food that won’t spoil (such as energy bars)
    • List of contact numbers
    • Radio (crank or battery-powered)
    • Small shovel, scraper and snowbrush
    • Warning light or road flares
    • Water
    • Whistle

    Recommended additional items to keep in your vehicle:
    • Antifreeze, windshield washer fluid
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Road maps
    • Sand, salt or cat litter (non-clumping)
    • Tow rope and jumper cables
  5. Tips:
    • Water can be purified by boiling, adding household bleach or using water purification tablets. The treatment and amount required can vary, depending on the kind of contamination. When in doubt, do not drink water you suspect may be contaminated.
    • Keep a corded phone in your home as most cordless phones will not work during a power outage. Limit phone calls to urgent messages only. Keep calls short to free up the lines for others.