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Facing evacuations due to a forest fire or flood? Here's what to pack in a grab-and-go bag

With forest fires prompting evacuations in communities across multiple provinces over the last few weeks, the question of what to do in an emergency is one many Canadians are finding themselves asking.

While some natural disasters or bouts of extreme weather may require sheltering in place until authorities can restore power and services to the area, others require residents to evacuate quickly, sometimes in a matter of hours.

When you have to leave your home at a moment’s notice, what are the essentials you should take with you?

The B.C. government has put together a list of what should be in your grab-and-go bag in case of an emergency.

The first thing to know about making a grab-and-go bag is that it should be a small kit that’s easy to take with you in case you need to leave immediately. It should be a backpack or similar bag filled with the required essentials, as opposed to a large storage container or something difficult to carry.

What to put inside your grab-and-go bag:

-Snacks that are ready to eat, such as granola bars, and which don’t need to be refrigerated.

-Water that is safe to drink. Buying bottled water for an emergency kit is a good idea, experts say, in case your local water supply has become contaminated due to extreme weather events. This also ensures that you can keep the water sealed until you need to use your grab-and-go bag.

-A radio powered either by hand-crank or by batteries. If you’re bringing a battery-powered radio, make sure to have extra batteries in your kit as well.

-Chargers for your phones, as well as a portable battery bank that you can charge your phone from, if possible.

-A small first-aid kit, as well as any medications that you will need in case you aren’t able to come back to your home for some time.

-Personal items which are necessary to your daily functioning, such as glasses, extra contacts and contact solution.

-Copies of important documents, including identification and insurance papers.

-A change of clothes which is correct for the season

-An emergency blanket

-A pen and notepad

-A whistle

-Some cash in small bills

-A copy of your emergency plan, as well as a map for where you will meet up with loved ones if separated.

It’s important to ensure that your grab-and-go bag contains enough emergency supplies for everyone who is evacuating with you, and you may need to create more than one bag to ensure that you have the right amount of supplies.

Circumstances may also change the requirements of your grab-and-go bag. For instance, extreme heat can increase your water needs, and bringing a pet with you will also mean you need to think about how much extra water they will need as well.

It’s important to note that a grab-and-go bag is not a replacement for an emergency kit, since they are for two different scenarios: waiting out an emergency at home versus fleeing your home in an emergency.

Experts say you should always have both an emergency kit and a grab-and-go bag prepared, as there’s no way to predict what kind of emergency may strike you. You can also create an emergency car kit, which may include more supplies as well as emergency supplies specifically to help deal with road conditions. Top Stories


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