People in Atlantic Canada should prepare for a big storm before it even forms. Strong winds and heavy rain from a hurricane could cause power outages, flooding, and evacuations.
“You want to make sure that you have the ability to sustain yourself for approximately 72 hours,” says Bill Lawlor, the Canadian Red Cross' director of disaster management for Atlantic Canada.
“Make sure you have enough water on hand -- so two to four litres per person per day. You want to make sure that you have lots of non-perishable food items.”
GET TO HIGHER GROUND
People in low-lying coastal areas should stay over with family or friends who live on higher grounds, suggests Harold Richards, an emergency medical officer in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Richards also urges people to keep away from the water.
PREPARE AN EMERGENCY KIT
Store your emergency supplies in a kit. Leave it by the door in case you need to “grab it and go.”
Gather a first aid kit, battery-powered or wind-up radio, flashlight, blankets, can opener and toilet paper. It's also a good idea to have spare house and car keys. Put aside some cash in small bills and coins, which would be especially useful if ATMs or debit card machines stop working.
FAMILY AND PETS
Every family is unique, and has different needs. A family with young children needs to think of ways to keep its smallest members occupied if the lights go out. A board game could do the trick.
Stock up on any medication you might need, whether it is over-the-counter or prescription, and get an extra pair of eyeglasses, if possible.
Just as you need to have food and water for yourself, you also need to provide those essentials for your pets.
AROUND THE HOUSE
Make a list of contact information of family members, health providers, employers. List insurance policy numbers.
While you're at it, move your vehicle away from trees, which could topple over. Wind gusts could also blow around lawn furniture, garbage cans, and barbecues. Tie them down, or take them inside. Clear debris from drains.
GET READY NOW
“You want to start to do this now, as the weather event is approaching. Because we all know, from experience, when the weather event is on our doorsteps, people are inundating the stores trying to purchase supplies right away, and the shelves tend to become empty relatively quickly,” says Lawlor.
The Canadian Red Cross takes its own advice seriously. The organization had 900 disaster volunteers in Atlantic Canada to help people deal with hurricane Earl.
Visit the Canadian Red Cross online for more advice on preparing for an emergency.