Injury Prevention Wellness

Three steps to prepare your family for an emergency

Emergency kit and preparedness checklist

Emergencies can happen quickly, without warning, in any season, and at any time of day. In the event of a community-wide emergency, such as a major power outage, you should be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for a minimum of 72 hours.

Is your family prepared?

Disasters may be beyond our control, but by taking some simple steps, you can be better prepared to protect yourself and your family during an emergency.

Step 1: Make a plan

Every household should have an emergency plan. Your family’s emergency plan should identify:

  • Safe exits from your home
  • Meeting places to reunite with your family
  • Any special health needs of your family members
  • Contact information for your family members, family doctor, insurance company, etc.
  • The location of your emergency kit, fire extinguisher, electrical panel, and water and gas valves
  • A plan for your household pet(s)

Need help getting started? We recommend creating your family’s emergency plan using the Government of Canada’s free online tool. Your plan should take less than 20 minutes to create and can be saved or printed out. Remember to keep your plan in an easy-to-remember place – or print multiple copies of the plan to leave at work and in your car.

Step 2: Get an emergency kit

In an emergency, you will need some basic supplies. These supplies should be organized in a backpack, duffle bag, or wheeled bin and stored in an accessible location, such as your front hall closet. Your emergency kit should include the following items:

  • Water – at least two liters per person per day
  • Extra batteries
  • Non-perishable food items
  • Extra keys to your car and house
  • A manual can opener
  • Some cash in smaller bills
  • A crank or battery-powered flashlight
  • A copy of your family’s emergency plan
  • A crank or battery-powered radio
  • If applicable, prescription medicine, infant formula, medical equipment, and pet food
  • First aid kit

Creating your emergency kit doesn’t need to be expensive. You can start by buying a few items today and commit to building your kit over time. Need help getting started? We recommend checking out the City of Toronto’s tips for preparing your family on a budget.

Step 3: Be informed

Lastly, be prepared by being informed. There are several ways that you can be aware of hazards, risks, and potential emergencies in our community:

  1. Monitor your telephone, radio, or wireless device for emergency alerts from “Alert Ready”
    Alert Ready is Canada’s emergency alerting system. This system is designed to deliver critical and potentially life-saving alerts to all Canadians. Upon receiving an alert, take immediate action to protect you and your family.
  2. Subscribe to receive preparedness information and tips from the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management
    In Ontario, you can subscribe to receive emergency information and seasonal preparedness tips by email or text. Click here to learn more about this service.
  3. Follow social media
    You can follow @OntarioWarnings on Twitter and Emergency Management Ontario on Facebook to stay informed!


~This post was updated Jan. 15, 2020.

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Emergency Preparedness Team