Do you have your 72-hour Emergency Kit ready?

No one knows for sure when disaster will strike, but we can all be prepared. Create your own 72-hour emergency kit, and you will have the necessary items to help you and your family until emergency responders can reach you. Below are items you may want to include in your kit.

Food and water (3-day supply of non-perishables per person required)

  • protein/granola bars
  • trail mix/dried fruit
  • crackers and cereals
  • canned meat, fish and beans
  • canned juice
  • water (4 L per person, include small bottles to carry with you)

Bedding and clothing

  • change of clothing (short- and long-sleeve shirts, pants, socks, undergarments)
  • raincoat/emergency poncho/jacket
  • spare shoes
  • sleeping bags/blankets/emergency heat blankets per person
  • plastic and cloth sheets

Light and fuel

  • hand-crank flashlight or battery-operated flashlights/lamps
  • extra batteries
  • flares
  • candles
  • lighter
  • waterproof matches


  • manual can opener
  • dishes and utensils
  • shovel
  • radio (with spare batteries/hand operated crank)
  • pen and paper
  • axe/pocket knife
  • rope
  • duct tape
  • whistle
  • cellphone charger
  • basic tools
  • small stove with fuel (follow manufacturer’s directions for operation and storage)

Personal supplies and medication

  • first-aid kit
  • toiletries (toilet paper, feminine hygiene, toothbrush)
  • cleaning supplies (hand sanitizer, dish soap, etc.)
  • medication (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, children’s medication, etc.,  and 3-day supply of prescription medication)
  • pet food and supplies
  • garbage bags
  • toys/reading material

Copies of personal documents, money (in waterproof container)

  • legal documents (birth and marriage certificates, wills, passports, contracts)
  • insurance policies
  • cash in small bills
  • credit card/s
  • prepaid phone cards
  • copy of your emergency plan and contact information

Ready-to-go Kit

Keep ready-to-go kit items in a backpack, duffle bag or suitcase, in an accessible place, such as a front-hall closet. Make sure your kit is easy to carry, and everyone in the house knows where it is. Take it with you if you have to leave your house so you can be safe.

  • food that you don’t have to keep cold
  • 4 L of water for each person
  • manual can opener
  • plastic/paper plates, cups, knives, forks, spoons
  • flashlight and extra batteries
  • change of clothes
  • card with emergency contact information and the number of someone to call who lives out of town
  • pet food and supplies for at least three days
  • small first aid kit
  • personal ID card
  • personal hygiene items, soap, hand sanitizer

Store medicine you usually take near your ready-to-go kit.


  • Update your kits every six months (put a note in your calendar/planner) to make sure that food, water, and medication  are not expired, clothing fits, personal documents and credit cards are up to date, and batteries are charged.
  • Small toys/games are important; they can provide some comfort and entertainment during a stressful time.
  • Some items and/or flavours might leak, melt, or break open. Dividing groups of items into individual Ziploc bags might help prevent this

Have a happy HallowGREEN!

This Halloween can be less scary for the environment when you make a few simple changes to your spooky traditions.

Halloween gear is often used only once before being tossed. Here are a few earth-friendlier options:

• New Halloween costumes are fabulous because they’re on trend and ready to wear. On September 1, why not donate these gems to friends with younger children for next year. They also make great clothes for everyday dress-up!

• You can also spruce a homemade costume up with brand new accessories. A witch with sparkly makeup, a brand new wand and broomstick is a very happy witch!

• Get creative and put together a costume with items that you can reuse when Halloween’s over. This could be the opportunity to buy that great striped sweater for fall that you can use to dress up as Freddy Krueger!

• Celebrate National Costume Swap Day on October 8 by attending one of the many swap locations across Canada. Or why not host your own private swap? Tip: Pick up Halloween makeup items to give out as party favours for your guests!

Eco-Haunted House

Here’s how to keep holiday decor creepy without scaring the environment.

• Turn off all the house lights and light your porch or walkway with lots of candles. Candlelight indoors will also add to the ambience and spooky decor while saving energy. Tip: Put tea lights in tall glass vases or containers to keep them flickering in those cold autumn winds.

• Support your community of produce growers by picking your pumpkins from a local farm or farmers’ market. Make it a day trip with the kids and let everyone in the family choose the pumpkin that they like best. Tip: Shop for fun accessories to give pumpkins a personality punch, like a bow tie, fake moustache or even a pair of specs!

• When Halloween’s over, remember to compost those jack-o’-lanterns. Instead of throwing away those scrumptious pumpkin seeds, you can clean, season and roast them in the oven on baking trays for a healthy and delicious snack.

• If you’re hosting a grown-up get-together, you can create a chic Halloween theme by setting a sophisticated table that still screams fun. Mix black, white and orange accessories – black tablecloth, white plates, orange placemats and linens – to evoke the spirit of the season. Look for various spooky tabletop items to add to the theme, like a small ceramic black cat or raven and spider-shaped wine glass tags! Tip: Add orange roses in black-and-white patterned vases for instant elegance.

Trick-or-Treat Tips

There are plenty of ways to make this tradition a little more earth- and health-friendly. Remember, a treat is a treat, so challenge yourself to find ways to cut down on the sugar and candy wrappers!

• A reusable trick-or-treat bag is a must. There are loads of environmentally friendly options on the market. Why not get creative and let your kids create their own designs with paint or iron-on patches on a simple monochromatic sack?

• Taking squeeze or shake flashlights on the trick-or-treat route is a great eco-alternative to using battery-powered versions. Look for choices in cool shapes and styles that can complement your child’s costume.

• Invite your neighbourhood friends for some treats and bake your own Halloween goods using cookie cutters in scary shapes. Try nut-free recipes using wholesome ingredients to keep kids happy and healthy.

• Have a Halloween party for both kids and grown-ups. Plan ghostly games with prizes, spooky crafts and activities to keep kids in the seasonal spirit. Don’t forget to keep it green by sending out invites printed on recycled paper. Party tip: Carry the theme into the bathroom with spooky soaps to thrill your guests!

How to create a child-friendly home

Here is a great article I found that was originally posted by Safe Kids Canada

How to protect your baby from falling

Babies’ heads are large compared to the rest of their body. This affects their balance and makes them more vulnerable to falls. Also, as babies can wiggle, kick and roll, they can fall from high surfaces, such as change tables, cribs, high chairs or counters. Falls can cause serious injuries.

Stay close to your baby. You are your baby’s best defence against injury. You can reduce the risk by staying close to them.

Keep one hand on your child while they’re on the change table. Your baby can wiggle, kick and roll. This can cause them to fall from high surfaces such as change tables. Make sure to keep one hand on your baby while changing them to prevent them from rolling off the table and falling.

Place car seats, carriers, and rockers on the floor. Placing car seats, carriers, and rockers on furniture can result in a very serious injury to your child. Because your child can wiggle, kick and roll, they can cause these carriers to move and fall off the furniture.

Bolt safety gates to the wall at the top and bottom of the stairs Pressure gates can easily become separated from the wall if a baby or toddler pushes on them. Make sure to use gates that come with screws and bolts at the top and bottom of the stairs. For more information, read safety gates

Place cribs, beds and other furniture away from windows and balconies. Babies are always curious. They have climbed onto window ledges, pushed out window screens, and climbed over balcony railings. Placing furniture away from windows and balcony railings will help reduce the chance of your infant falling. Make sure to install window stops or guards on windows above the second storey. For more information, read window and balcony falls .

Safety gates keep kids safe

In Canada, about 40 per cent of the injuries that involve baby gates involve children younger than one year. Safety gates are used to prevent infants and toddlers from falling down stairs, or as a barrier between rooms. There are two types of gates: hardware-mounted gates and pressure-mounted gates. Hardware-mounted gates are secured to door jams or walls with screws and plates. Pressure-mounted gates are held in place by a pressure bar applied to a door frame.

Here’s how using gates can help reduce the risk of falls to your child:

Install safety gates properly. Gates should always be installed and used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The locking mechanisms should always be placed on the side away from the child. Hardware-mounted gates should be installed at the top and bottom of stairs.

Use the correct gates. Once your child’s chin is in line with the top of the gate or when he or she is two years old, the gate is no longer effective. A child may attempt to jump or climb over the gate. Teach children, two years and older, to climb stairs and practice with them until they are able to climb independently. Remind family members and friends to close the gate. For more information on gates visit Consumer Product Safety, Health Canada or call 1-866-662-0666.

Protect your child from window and balcony falls

Young children can easily fall from open windows and off balconies. They are curious and don’t understand the risks of falling from heights. Falls from windows have caused serious injuries and death.  Window screens are not designed to prevent falls. Screens can easily give way under the weight of a small child.

Here are some safety tips to prevent your child from a window and balcony falls:

Keep your young child away from open windows and balcony railings. Always place cribs, beds and other furniture away from windows. Make sure that doors to balconies are kept locked. Furniture or other objects on balconies should be arranged away from railings.

Use window guards and stops on windows above the first floor. Window stops prevent the window from opening more than 10 cm. Window guards are a barrier in front of the window. They are available at local hardware, home renovation or home safety stores. For more information, please read window safety devices.

If you live in an apartment, landlords may be required to provide window stops or guards. Tenants living in apartment building should check with their municipality to see if there is a window safety by-law. This may mean that a landlord must provide window stops or guards for you.

Window safety devices

Window guards act as a barrier, like a gate, in front of the window and can be found at hardware and specialty stores. They are available with both horizontal and vertical bars. Make sure to purchase window guards that have a release mechanism so that they can be fully opened in case of an emergency. Window guards have bars spaced no more than 10 cm (four in) apart.

Window stops are small devices that prevent a window from opening more than 10 cm (four in), so that a child cannot fall out. Wide varieties of window stops are available and can be found at hardware stores. Check your local hardware or home renovation store for window guards and stops. An internet search will also find on-line stores that can ship the products to you.

Window blind or curtain cords

Between 1989 and 2009, 27 children died and 23 children were injured by becoming entangled in window blind cords as reported by Health Canada.

Here’s how to help reduce the risk to your child:

Cut the cords short and tie them out of reach. Young children find window blind or curtain cords interesting and are attracted to them. Cut the cords short and tie them high to help keep blind cords out of reach.

Cribs, beds, high chairs and playpens should not be placed by window blind or curtain cords. Putting your children’s furniture at the level of the window, especially at times when they are not constantly supervised, makes it easier for children to reach the window blind or curtain cords.

Use cordless window coverings. Different window coverings, such as drapes without cords or roller blinds, are safer for children. For more information on the hazards of window blind cords visit Consumer Product Safety, Health Canada or call 1 866-662-0666.

Locks and latches

Check your locks and latches. Locks and latches need to be changed as your child grows and starts to become more active and better at opening locks.  Latches should be checked periodically, as mechanisms can break down when used often. This is especially true of plastic locks.

Placement of locks and latches. Locks and latches fit more effectively if there is a lip on the underside of the cabinets and drawers to hook on to. If your cabinet does not have a lip, place a lock around the handles on the outside of the cabinet instead. Placing latches on cabinet or furniture drawers also will prevent your child from using the drawers as a means of climbing up onto counter tops and furniture.

Prevent your television from toppling onto your child More than 100 children visit hospital emergency departments every year in Canada due to toppling televisions. Older models of televisions are bigger in size, but they are not heavier in weight. A 33-inch screen can make a television set 50 per cent heavier than the older 27-inch screens.  Even the newer designs of televisions have a large screen and can easily be tipped over.

Here’s how to help reduce the risk to your child:

Keep your televisions on low, sturdy furniture. The newer designs of TVs have bigger screens and smaller backs, which makes them heavy in the front and easier to tip over.

Use safety products to secure the television set. Television sets are heavy and hard and if they fall on children, can result in head injuries, broken bones, crushed nerves, and internal injuries. Anchors, angle-braces or furniture straps can be used to secure televisions to the wall.

Remind children not to climb on the furniture. Children love to climb and use furniture in creative ways, which can become very dangerous.

Keep your child away from fireplaces

The glass barrier on your fireplace can heat up to over 200 °C (400 °F). For gas fireplaces this can occur in about six minutes during use. It takes an average of 45 minutes for the gas fireplace to cool to a safe temperature, after the gas fire is switched off.

Place a barrier around your fireplace. Install safety gates around the fireplace or at doorways to the room that has the fireplace. Young children, under five years of age, and especially those under two years, are most at risk. When young children are first beginning to walk, they often fall. Hands and fingers are burned on the glass and metal parts of the door as young children raise their arms to stop their fall. Also, young children are attracted to the flames and want to touch it.

Supervise your child. Never leave a young child alone near a fireplace; they can be burned before, during, and after use of the fireplace.

Teach children about the dangers of fire, along with supervision. Teach your child the dangers of fire. However, teaching alone will not prevent your child from an injury. Young children, especially toddlers, can know a safety rule, but will not necessarily follow it. See our scalds and burns section for more detailed information.

Poison prevention tips

Keep all potential poisons locked up and out of reach of children. As your child grows, he becomes increasingly active and can more easily reach and open cabinets. Medicines, cleaning products and other poisons need to be locked in a place high up and out of your child’s reach.

  • Keep all potential poisons locked up and out of reach of children.
  • Store poisons in a cabinet that is high up and can be locked using a lock or latch that cannot be opened by a child.
  • Place all medications in a locked box and put it in a place that is high up and out of your child’s reach.

See our poison prevention section for more detailed information.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Install smoke detectors on every level of the home and in each sleeping area. Smoke detectors save lives. The risk of fire-related deaths is three times higher in homes without smoke detectors than those with smoke detectors. Most children who died in residential fires were in homes without smoke detectors or without working smoke detectors. Alarms should be tested every month and batteries changed annually.

Carbon monoxide detectors can save your child’s life. Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, toxic gas, produced by sources such as defective appliances, clothes dryers, furnaces, or exhaust fumes from cars in garages. Breathing this gas can cause a coma or death. A carbon monoxide detector can alert your family to the presence of the gas in your home. Detectors should be tested monthly and batteries changed annually.

Carbon Monoxide Safety

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas. It is colorless, odourless and tasteless, and breathing CO can cause illness or death. CO is produced when a fuel, such as gasoline, natural gas, propane or wood, burns incompletely. Fuel-burning appliances, like furnaces and water heaters, can produce CO if they are not installed, used or maintained properly.

Maintaining fuel-burning appliances

You should have your fuel-burning appliances inspected by a qualified heating professional once a year. Between inspections, monitor your appliances and call a professional if:

  • the flame on your natural gas furnace, water heater or stove is yellow. The flame should be a clear blue with occasional yellow tips (some natural gas fireplaces may be designed to have yellow flames); or
  • you find cracks, holes, separations, rust, stains or carbon deposits on heating ducts or pipes.

Make sure your appliances get the proper ventilation they need:

  • Your chimney should be inspected and cleaned every year. Between inspections, make sure leaves, snow, ice and other debris do not block the chimney.
  • Each furnace, water heater, gas clothes dryer or other appliance must have a proper venting system.
  • Temporary gas space heaters or wood burning stoves and fireplaces must have a fresh-air supply. If there is no permanent duct, open a window when burning solid fuels or using temporary gas heaters.

Using appliances and machinery properly

  • Once you start your car, move it outside the garage and close the garage door. Never leave a vehicle running in the an enclosed space.
  • Use only properly designed and vented fuel-burning space heaters to heat any enclosed space.
  • Never use fuel-powered equipment such as barbecues, gas-powered lawnmowers, snow-blowers or chainsaws inside a confined space.

Carbon monoxide poisoning: Know the symptoms, and know what to do:

Symptoms of CO poisoning include:

  • headaches;
  • nausea;
  • drowsiness;
  • dizziness;
  • confusion; and
  • loss of co-ordination or judgement.

If you, another person, or a pet show symptoms of CO poisoning:

  • Leave the house immediately;
  • call 911 or the local fire department from a neighbour’s house. Tell emergency responders that you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning; and
  • do not go back into the house until the fire department says it’s safe.

Carbon monoxide alarms

Carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are a valuable safety tool. There are now CO alarm requirements for new homes, but they are recommended for all homes.

CO alarms are not a substitute for prevention.

Building code requirements

The current building code (which came into force September 2, 2007) requires CO alarms in new houses if there is a fuel-burning appliance (such as furnace or water heater) or an attached garage.

CO alarms are required in new condos/multi-family homes if the unit has a self-contained fuel-burning appliance or shares a wall or ceiling with a parking garage.

What to look for when buying carbon monoxide alarms

CO alarms must meet the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standard. When you buy a CO alarm, make sure it is certified, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation, use and maintenance.

Where to install carbon monoxide alarms

The alarms should be installed in bedrooms or within five meters of bedroom doors. They may also be required in a service room the encloses a fuel-burning appliance which serves multi-family suites.

Winterizing your home

It may seem too soon to talk about but many winterization precautions for home owners are easier to conduct during warmer weather.  The fall Equinox is a good time of year to start thinking about preparing your home for winter, because as temperatures begin to dip, your home will require maintenance to keep it in tip-top shape through the winter. Continue reading

Can the Fire Department find your house?

Next week is Fire Prevention Week. During my years serving with our local Fire Department, I learned that every second counts in an emergency.  Is your home difficult to find because the number is hard to see.  I took a drive around town during the daylight yesterday and found many houses in our community without house numbers at all!  Take a moment tonight to look at your home from the street and check the following:

1)    Check to see whether you can easily read your house number from the street.

2)    Make sure the numbers are big enough and visible at night under outdoor lighting.

3)    House numbers should contrast with the background.

4)    Be certain bushes or trees don’t block the view.

5)     Are the numbers positioned so that your house light (when turned on) lights them?

Planning a Fire Evacuation Route for Your Home

According to the United States Fire Administration, more than 3,500 Americans die in fires each year, with another 18,300 sustaining injuries as the result of a fire. Because the majority of these fires occur in the home, it’s of vital importance that every family has a fire evacuation plan in place. While no homeowner wants to consider the possibility of losing everything they’ve worked so hard to acquire, ensuring that you and your children are armed with the information you need to survive a house fire could mean the difference between an unfortunate event and a truly tragic one.


Making sure that you have taken the proper precautionary measures as a matter of routine maintenance can make a huge difference in situations where every moment matters. Making sure that your home is stocked with the proper equipment is the first step to planning your evacuation route and fire safety plan.

  • Smoke Alarms –Your home should be equipped with smoke alarms on every floor and outside of every bedroom to ensure that each member of the family can hear the alarm clearly enough to awaken from a sound sleep, should it go off. The batteries in your smoke alarms should be changed when you reset your clocks for daylight savings time, or more frequently if they begin to emit the chirping noise that indicates low battery power.
  • Fire Extinguishers – You should place a fire extinguisher on every floor, including one in the kitchen where cooking fires can quickly get out of control. Upstairs extinguishers should be kept in central locations for ease of access. As an extra precaution, keeping a fire extinguisher near any sources of heat, such as a fireplace or an outdoor fire pit, is wise.
  • Emergency Escape Ladders – Houses with more than one level and bedrooms on upper floors should be equipped with an emergency escape ladder in each of those bedrooms. Children should be instructed on the proper use of such ladders when they’re old enough to manage them without assistance.


Making a plan of action for your family to adhere to in the event of a fire can be a difficult task for many reasons, not least of which is a simple reluctance to consider the possibility of losing everything you own in a blaze. Making that plan, however, could very well mean the difference between your family making it out of a burning home intact, or suffering a devastating loss.

  • Pick a Meeting Point – For any disaster, natural or otherwise, your family should have a designated meeting point for everyone to converge, should you become separated. Make sure that your children know where to go after they escape from a house fire or other catastrophe, and how to reach that point on their own.
  • Choose an Emergency Contact – Choosing an emergency contact, such as a close friend or a member of your extended family, for your children and spouse to call in the event of a fire that leaves you separated can help each member of your family determine that everyone made a successful escape if you’re unable to reach the designated meeting point.
  • Determine the Quickest Exit from Each Bedroom – Because older members of the family will almost certainly attempt to assist the younger ones, it’s important that everyone in your family knows the quickest and safest exit from each bedroom in the house.
  • Teach Kids More Than One Route – Ideally, your children will be accompanied by an adult as they escape a burning house. Unforeseen events, however, can leave them to make the trek alone. Because of this, it’s imperative that you teach your children how to safely evacuate your home by themselves, and how to choose the best route to do so.


After your evacuation route is decided upon and memorized by everyone in the family, it’s wise to periodically practice your fire evacuation plan by staging regular drills. During these drills, covering the basics of concepts such as “Stop, Drop, and Roll” is advised. Kids should learn how to stay low on the ground to avoid excessive smoke inhalation, to test doorknobs for blistering heat before grasping them, and to close doors behind them as they move from room to room to slow the spread of fire.

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