Is your home ready for an emergency?

(NC) Warmer weather means barbecues, road trips and patio season. But it also brings flash floods, power outages and other emergency situations. Here’s how to ready your home and keep your family safe:

Know the risks. The types of emergencies or natural hazards we could face vary across Canada. Knowing what to do is an important part of being prepared. Knowing the risks in your region and how to prepare for different situations is a crucial step to ensuring your safety.

Prepare an emergency kit. You may have some common items already lying around the house, such as a flashlight, a wind-up radio, food, water and a manual can opener. Make sure they’re organized and keep them in a backpack in an easy to find location in case you need to evacuate quickly. Make a second kit for your car with the same items as well as a whistle, jumper cables, road flares, a shovel, paper maps, sand and road salt.

Make an emergency plan. It will only take you about 20 minutes to make a family emergency plan. Some things to include are safe exits from your neighbourhood and home, including at least two exits from every room, health and insurance information, the level of risk in your region, location of your fire extinguisher, designated meeting places and key contacts. Make sure everyone in your household is familiar with the plan and take the time to practice it.

DIY flood-ready fixes. Go for an ounce of prevention by doing some updates around your home to prevent flooding or reduce its impact. Install backwater valves or plugs for drains, toilets and other sewer connections. Make sure your downspouts extend at least two metres (six feet) from your basement wall. Raise large appliances, furnaces, hot water heaters, and electrical panels up on wood or cement blocks above the potential water level.

Get heating backups. In case of a power-outage, consider installing a non-electric standby stove or heater in case of a power outage. Remember that it’s important to adequately vent the stove or heater with the type of chimney flue specified for it. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, have the chimney cleaned every fall in preparation for use and to eliminate creosote build-up which could ignite and cause a chimney fire.

Talk to your kids. Your kids might be wondering what you're up to as you assemble emergency supplies, so take a few minutes and involve them in your planning. Talking to children about different kinds of emergencies can help them feel safer and know what to do if something happens. Show them educational videos online to get the conversation going.

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