13 Ways to Survive a Natural Disaster
A Canadian Red Cross volunteer shares his expert advice on how to make it through a natural disaster safe from harm.
Survival Tips: Assemble a Survival Kit
Plan ahead by assembling a survival kit with enough supplies to last at least 72 hours. Include blankets, water and food-and don’t forget a manual can opener, says Guy Lepage, a veteran Canadian Red Cross volunteer. “A lot of people have electric ones, but if you’re got no power, you’ve got a big problem.”
Survival Tips: Keep Your Kit in a Backpack or Gym Bag
Make sure your kit is placed in something that zips up and is easy to carry. Don’t get stuck with an unwieldy plastic container or unsealable bag during an evacuation.
Survival Tips: Take Extra Care of Medications
If you use a hearing aid and live in an area prone to earthquakes, secure the device to your nightstand using Velcro. As well, Lepage says running out of medications is one of the most common problems people face during an emergency, so always have at least three days’ worth of pills on hand.
Survival Tips: Remember Your Pets
Find out in advance which hotels and shelters allow animals, and stock your pet’s medication like you would your own. Keep a crate and plenty of food for your furry friend.
Survival Tips: Never Go Digital
Analog maps and paper money may seem cumbersome in the digital age, but when a natural disaster knocks out the power grid, you’ll be glad to have them on hand.
Survival Tips: Text Instead of Call
Let family and friends know you are safe by texting them instead of calling. A text is more likely to get through than a phone call if cellular networks are overwhelmed. Plus you will help free up phone lines, which are needed by rescue workers.
Survival Tips: Collect Water
If a winter storm has you stuck inside, let your faucets trickle continuously and collect the water in a basin. This will keep the pipes from freezing and ensure you’ve got enough water to cook and bathe (and make plenty of hot chocolate).
Survival Tips: Make Preparation a Family Affair
“We encourage people to discuss it around the kitchen table,” Lepage says. Ask your kids what they’d like to take with them during an evacuation. It may just be a blanket or a stuffed animal, but that could be enough to keep them calmer during a crisis.
Survival Tips: Don’t Believe What You See in the Movies
A doorway isn’t the safest place to be in an earthquake (you should seek shelter under a table instead), and waiting in your car beneath an overpass is one of the worst things you can do in a tornado. Don’t believe what you see in the movies.
Survival Tips: Purify Your Water
If the water in your area becomes contaminated, you may need to purify it using iodine tablets, which impart an unpleasant flavour. Make treated water more palatable by passing it back and forth several times between two separate containers.
Survival Tips: Photocopy Important Documents
Photocopy your passports, licences, wills and insurance forms-and store them in a re-sealable plastic bag, along with recent photos of family members. Scan each document to create a PDF file, which you can then email to yourself or store using a cloud-based service like Dropbox, iCloud or Google Drive.
Survival Tips: Keep Your Car’s Gas Tank Full
Life in Canada doesn’t stop for a blizzard or an ice storm, so keep your car’s gas tank full to ensure the fuel line doesn’t freeze. And if you use a backup generator at home, remember never to run it indoors-even in the garage-as it could cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
Survival Tips: Practice Makes Perfect
Run through your emergency procedures once or twice a year, making sure each family member knows what to do. “If you get the call that you’ve got to evacuate,” Lepage says, “it’s a lot less stressful knowing everyone’s ready.”