When we think about emergency preparedness, the first thing that comes to mind is usually having an emergency kit in your home, office, or car. But what if we told you there is a greater chance that your car would break down on the side of the road, or your house would catch fire than being in an earthquake or another natural disaster? Between 2010 and 2014, there were nearly 100,000 structural fires reported across Canada alone.
So, ask yourself, if you arrived home to your house on fire, with nothing except for what you have on you, what would you do?
We’ve teamed up with the experts at Paladin Risk Solutions to provide the answer, as well as make you think about how you could improve other areas of your life for the unexpected.
“Preparedness is how you line up your life or business, so as to minimize disruption and allow you to focus on recovery in the most efficient way.”
-Royston Colbourne, Paladin Risk Solutions
Backpack, Purse, or Bag
Let’s start with your bag: what would you do if it was lost or stolen? Take a second to dump out all of its contents and note what’s inside. Your phone, house and car keys, driver’s license, and credit cards, passwords, account numbers, personal data that could be used for identity theft? While it may not seem like much, the implications could be massive. If away from home, ask yourself where would you go for the night, how would you pay for anything, and would you know the number for someone to contact any of the numbers in the phone you just lost? There’s also identity theft to consider. How much information are you carrying that is unnecessary and will be very useful to the opposition? You must assume that everything you carry is not essential and there is a contingency if you suddenly don’t have it anymore.
It’s a scary realization that can be prevented by simply not keeping everything in one place.
Home or Office
Your home and office are like your bag. If you don’t have access to it or all the important paperwork or files inside, what are you going to do? While we live in a time where we could easily survive on our laptops or phones if an emergency happens, when it comes to being prepared, your plan should include more than that.
Royston Colbourne of Paladin Risk Solutions says all of your documents should be uploaded onto a cloud system, such as insurance or emergency papers and contacts. What use are they if your house burns down or you have no way of accessing them? The cloud ensures there would have minimal to no interruptions so you can easily move on with your life. There is a common myth that cloud-based data storage is not safe, if you’re worried that the cloud isn’t secure, that’s just not the case anymore. Experts say keeping important docs on your cloud is actually safer than keeping them on a regular hard drive.
Another simple way to keep track of your home is to do a video inventory of all your possessions and store it off-site in a safety deposit box. This will make recovery quicker and insurance claims more favourable to replacement value.
“Preparedness is what you do in the 12 months before the emergency, not the 12 hours after the emergency,” Colbourne said. “The moment people realize it’s necessary, it’s usually too late.”
What usually slows people down in an emergency, Colbourne says, is trying to figure out how to access the necessary information, including banking details, which are critical in the first few days. Along with the cloud, have phone numbers, usernames, and passwords easily accessible so you can be ahead of the game. Documents in your personal safe or even a bank vault are of no value if your house doesn’t exist anymore or if the bank is closed.
Now that we know we need to be prepared if we lose our home or business, let’s think about the one thing that should always be in your car. Colbourne says keeping a pair of hard, sturdy shoes, a set of dry warm waterproof clothing, and water is an absolute must, as you don’t know where our cars could break down or where we may be stuck. Would the shoes on your feet keep you warm and dry for more than a day? Ask yourself that very question, then go and put a pair of sturdy shoes in your vehicle.
Emergency Preparedness Kit
We couldn’t talk about emergency preparedness and skip the all-important kit. While it’s good to have the essentials, think about the types of tools that would actually help you during an emergency. Water and a flashlight are always a good start but go further and think of items such as a hard hat or crowbar, which could end up being the difference-maker if trapped. People are habitual about preparedness so try to break that cycle.
Easy Ways to Prevent a House Fire
Since we’ve focused heavily on fires, here are few ways to prevent common house fires:
- Don’t leave cookware unattended, especially if you’re using oil.
- Inspect heating equipment annually. This includes furnaces, chimneys, and fireplaces.
- Make indoor smoking off-limits.
- Check to ensure electrical outlets aren’t overloaded and lose wires and cords aren’t hanging out.
- Keep candles on a level surface away from children and pets.
- Regularly maintain and clean your BBQ.
What You Need to be Prepared
- Upload all your documents onto a cloud-based system. This is always safe and secure and remains updated.
- Carry a hard pair of sturdy shoes, warm, waterproof clothing, and water in your car at all times.
- Regarding your emergency kit, think further, like hard hats and crowbars.
- Check your house to ensure common fire hazards won’t be an issue.
For more info on corporate presentations about emergency preparedness, contact Paladin Risk Solutions.