Water, Water, Anywhere?


It’s old news now, but no less of a pain in the hind end to deal with the boil water advisory in Vancouver. Store shelves and dispensers of bottled water all over the North Shore, Vancouver and Burnaby have been bare for over a week, with no end in sight.

It’s gotten so bad that I even braved rush-hour traffic, and drove out to Richmond last night after work to stock up on a couple 18L bottles to keep my household hydrated for the next couple weeks.

Now there’s no current issue other than the water quality, and nobody’s health or well-being is in danger because of that. But considering the mayhem that’s ensued with this small inconvenience, how well do you think the city would fare if a real disaster struck? We keep being told that, living on a large fault, we should be prepared for "the big one" – but how prepared are  you?

According to the Canadian Red Cross, you should have in your home the following supplies in case there is a disaster (stored in waterproof containers when at all possible):

  • Potable Water: 4L per person, per day for 3 days. In a 2-person household like mine, that’s 24L of water – more than one large water-cooler jug! You should also rotate your water supply every 6 months to avoid bacteria growth.
  • Non-perishable food for 3 days. Consider canned goods like Tuna and Beans (don’t forget a can opener too!), dried fruits, powdered soups (don’t forget extra water), high energy foods like peanut butter, instant coffee and some teabags and special needs food for those with diabetes or allergies, and formula for infants.
  • A comprehensive first-aid kit, with a variety of wound dressing types and sizes, latex (or non-allergenic latex alternative) gloves, thermometer, antiseptic, and non-prescription drugs including aspirin, laxative, anti-diarrheal, anti-nausea, antihistamines and antacids and feminine hygeine supplies. You should also keep copies of your prescriptions at hand.
  • Portable radio and batteries and flashlight and batteries. Hand-crank operated versions of these are also useful. Tools such as a shovel, knife, wrench (for shutting off water and gas valves in your home), type ABC fire extinguisher, matches in waterproof container, whistle, flares, duct tape, and large garbage bags.
  • Sleeping bags, sturdy shoes, thermal underwear are also very useful.
  • A small stash of cash, in case electronic transactions are down.
  • A deck of cards and/or other travel games/entertainment. Sanity-savers can also be life-savers in stressful situations.
  • Don’t forget food, water, and supplies for your pets!

This of course is just a small sampling from their list – you can find the full information on the Red Cross Disaster Preparedness webpage.

Dealing with the lack of water has been an inconvenience, but the craze around the potable water supply has definitely sent the message home, for me at least, that should something REALLY terrible happen, it’s far better to be prepared than left helpless in an emergency.

Last modified: November 21, 2006

One Response to " Water, Water, Anywhere? "

  1. Kate says:

    jen! thanks for all this helpful info. There is also workshop tonight http://www.changeeverything.ca/emergency_preparedness_workshop_tonight