Here Comes The Rain Again

Hunter Boots

We in Southern Ontario are in the middle of some wicked summer weather and I know we are not the only ones experiencing a high volume of rain (after a long period of drought which of course brings floods), tornadoes (one touched down this weekend near where I grew up!) and all round ickyness (my hair can't survive this humidity!). I've mentioned before on the blog that my day job is in Business Continuity or basically, planning for disasters. It's exciting work and something I really love. I hold certifications from the Disaster Recovery Institute and the Province of Ontario and while friends assume that I am secretly preparing for the zombie apocalypse, I assure you I am not the type to over react (well about this stuff anyway). Disasters don't happen everyday and sometimes you can go years without ever experiencing any issues, but that doesn't mean they won't happen in the future. Being prepared can help you and your family weather any storm.

Weather disruptions can be minor disturbances like intermittent power outages to major things like destroyed homes and your town being declared a national disaster (think Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or more recently the wildfires in Fort McMurray). The funny thing about disasters is they happen when you least expect them. They can also be hard to predict and usually catch you off guard. So, what should you do? Get prepared! There are many websites that give great information on how to prepare you and your family for a wide range of disasters, the Government of Canada's Get Prepared site is my favourite. They provide no-nonsense information on preparing a family emergency plan and building a 72 hour kit. There are a few things that I do to keep my family safe which I'd like to share with you. My wish is you never have to use any of these tips but if you do, I'm glad to know you will be prepared!

  • TAKE IT SERIOUSLY! I can't stress this enough. I'm not saying act like Chicken Little whenever grey clouds roll in. I'm saying that when the weather advisories tell you to seek shelter, don't decide this is the time to rebel and go out to the mall. Too many people end up hurt, or worse, when they ignore the watches and warnings on the news. Take it seriously. If there is a tornado warning in your area, calmly prepare a few things and make sure everyone in the family knows what to do. Whenever there is a warning I always call the kids in and ask them to tell me what we do in the event of a tornado (the answer is get to the basement, away from windows). Practice makes perfect! I am constantly telling my business partners to exercise their muscle memory. When you practice something you will remember it during a highly stressful time much better than if you had just read it on a website. Your mother was right, practice makes perfect!

  • Make an emergency plan. Talk to your family about where to meet or evacuate to if you cannot access your home. Schools, community centres and other public buildings are your best bet. Buy Ziploc freezer bags to hold important documents in case you have to evacuate (birth certificates, deeds, marriage licenses, etc.) and try to keep a stash of small bills at home. Tens and fives are best, change works too. When the power is out, cash is king!

  • Gas up your car. If there is a watch or warning on the news, now is the time to make sure you have a full tank of gas. During power outages, like the wide spread black out in 2003, gas pumps will not work. If your family has to evacuate, you will be ready to travel to where it is safe.

  • Stock your home with supplies. You don't need to buy 100 cans of ravioli but it is a good idea to build a stock of ready to eat can goods. The Government of Canada says you should have enough stock in your house to last 72 hours. Next time your at the grocery store and soup is on sale, buy a few extra cans. I have a pantry area in my basement where I store extra can goods and I rotate them with what is currently in my kitchen to make sure nothing expires. You also need to have 1 gallon of water, per person, per day and a half gallon per family pet. You can stock a few cases of bottled water or buy a few of the big jugs. Replenish every few months, there should be an expiration date on the bottles. Buy a good flashlight, extra batteries, candles and lighters, a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher. I am obsessed with blankets and have a full cabinet of extras. Once we had a power outage in the dead of winter and the kids slept with us under a big pile of blankets until the power and heat kicked back in the next day. 

  • Know where the utility shut offs are. In some rare cases you may need to turn off your water or natural gas and trying to Google how to turn them off when there is no power is not going to work. Take a look around your home and know where all the shut offs are located. Don't try turning them off, just be aware of where they are in the event an alert comes out asking you to do so. 

Every area of the country is different and can experience a wide range of disasters. This link gives a listing of the different types (earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes) and what to do during each.

I will leave you with one last thought. Because I work in preparing businesses for disasters and how to recover all of their processes during such a disruption, it might be a good idea to inquire at your place of work to see if they have a Business Continuity Plan and what your role during a declaration (this is when your company officially declares a disaster) might be. As part of the BC lifecycle, we identify critical processes and name staff that can execute them. You may be asked to work during a disaster and it's a good idea you know that ahead of time to make plans. Not every company has a BC Plan, manufacturing and financial institutions are regulated to have them, but it's still a good idea to ask and verify what your role might be. And if you are being asked to assist in your companies recovery, make sure you test it! There are so many things you need to confirm will work during a disaster like what facility you might be working out of and your technology (think all the applications you use on a day-to-day basis).

Hopefully you never have to use this tips or if you do, let's hope it's not for too long. Have you ever found yourself in a disaster situation? What happened and what did you do to make it through? I'll share that during the 2003 Eastern seaboard power outage my hubby and I BBQ'd a bunch of stuff from our freezer and plugged a small portable TV into our car and watched Law & Order while sitting in lawn cars on our front porch! The kids were little at the time and thought it was a fun camp out! 

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