Photo of house covered in snow during winter

How to Prepare a Winter Home Emergency Kit

Snowstorms, black ice, hail, frozen pipes… It seems as though every winter, the elements throw the most creative challenges our way. The one downside of living in such an amazing place as Ottawa is dealing with the different weather crises every winter. During the winter, temperatures in our part of Canada can plunge to -40 degrees celsius. While our homes are usually equipped to handle the cold, there are still emergencies that may occur, such as blackouts or winter storms that may leave you and your home without any protection from the elements. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to have an emergency home winter kit prepared. While a power outage might not necessarily herald a zombie apocalypse, it ​could be dangerous if you don’t have items to keep you warm, dry and well-fed.

The best thing you can do for yourself and your family in an emergency is to be prepared. While it is recommended that each household maintain an emergency kit year-round, it can be particularly crucial during the colder winter months.

Here are some essential items that you should include in your winter emergency kit. Depending on the number of people in your household, you may need more than one kit.

1. Battery-Powered Lights 

Flashlights and battery-powered desk lights are the only way for you to make your way around your home in the event of a blackout. Flashlights have become less commonly found in households over recent years, with everyone carrying one around within their smartphones. However, in the event of a power outage, you’ll want to conserve your phone’s battery as much as possible. Make sure you have working flashlights, as well as fresh batteries on hand

2. First Aid Kit

First aid kits are an essential household item and you should have at least one fully-stocked year-round. However, an emergency first aid kit should also be kept with your home emergency kit. It’s important to keep this separate from your other first aid supplies in order to ensure it stays fully stocked.

3. Mobile Charging Battery Packs 

Thankfully, mobile charging battery packs are cheap and easy to find. In the event of a blackout, it’s a comfort to know that you can charge your phone and call for help whenever you like. The important thing to remember is to keep them charged and not to use them unless it is an emergency!

4. Drinking water

We’re lucky to be able to drink clean water from our taps whenever we like. But it’s always a good idea to have an alternative source of drinking water in case your pipes freeze or you have no running water for some other reason. Keeping several bottles of water in a cool, dry place will ensure they aren’t frozen when you’re ready for a drink. It’s recommended to have a gallon of water per day for each member of the family.

5. Hygiene Essentials

Hygiene is often the last thing we think about in the event of an emergency, but staying clean has been proven to lift our moods, keep us healthy, and help keep our minds clear. Basic hygiene items such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other essentials should be stored in your emergency kit. It’s also important to keep body wipes in the home if you have babies or small children who are more likely to need frequent baths.

6. Food

An emergency during the winter often means you can’t consume the items in your fridge or use your stove. For this reason, it’s always recommended to have canned food in your home for easy nourishment. Again, the amount of canned or non-perishable food you keep will depend on the size of your family, but it’s a good idea to keep enough for at least two days worth of food for each family member.

7. Firewood

For large spaces, a fireplace will provide the heat you need to stay warm and cozy. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, it’s a good idea to keep some wood in a cool, dry place for situations where you might not have electric heating. If you don’t have a wood-burning fireplace but are thinking of investing in one, give us a call at the Fireplace Center. We can also advise you on how to use your fireplace in emergency situations to keep your family warm.

Remember to check your emergency kit frequently, replacing or replenishing supplies as needed. As tempting as it may be to use things from your emergency kit when you have run out of household supplies, limit yourself to using the items in emergencies only (and make sure the rest of your household follows this rule too!).

Lastly, when storing items in your emergency kit, make sure all packaging is removed. Many items can be difficult to open, especially if under stress.

We hope this list of essential items is helpful in creating the emergency kit for your household. It is important to note that these are general items needed by everyone and don’t take into account your particular requirements. Think of the specific needs of your family members (such as medications or infant formula) and make sure to add these to your kit.

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