Opinion

Is your family prepared for natural disasters? Mine isn't

After the recent weather crisis in Eastern Ontario, Ian Mendes realizes his family is woefully unprepared for natural disasters.

1NaturalDisaster-January2014-iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

Follow along as Ottawa-based sports reporter Ian Mendes writes about the joys of raising daughters, Elissa and Lily, with wife, Sonia. 

I have never been one to pay too much attention to impending disasters.

On New Year’s Eve in 1999, I didn’t flinch during the whole Y2K scare. I was doing the “Mambo No. 5” without a care in the world as the clock approached midnight.

Last December, when the Mayan calendar was supposed to end — and bring mass destruction along with it — I didn’t even pick up an extra 2L of bottled water.

But this past week, we have experienced some apocalyptic weather in Eastern Canada and I’m realizing it’s time that we should start preparing for a worst-case scenario.

We had lots of friends and colleagues who lost power for extended stretches of time during the ice storm that gripped Toronto, and it got me thinking about what would happen if we lost electricity for several days at our house.

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So I recently surveyed the emergency section of our basement storage room and found the following items:

  • A giant pack of fruit cups that we foolishly purchased from Costco when the kids said they wanted them. (We haven’t been Costco members since 2009)
  • A can of corn
  • A Snoopy Sno-Cone machine

At first glance I’m not sure these are sufficient items for a family of four that might need to survive for three or four days without power. (Not to mention the in-fighting that would occur when the grape syrup runs out from Snoopy’s hat).

But our family’s disaster unpreparedness is not limited to just the food supply.

We also don’t keep our flashlights in a single place. Sometimes they are inside our bedside table. Other times you can find them in the kids’ bedrooms because they have been playing games with them. And it honestly wouldn’t surprise me if we found a flashlight in the vegetable crisper one day.

It’s also not uncommon to find our smartphones operating on less than 30 percent battery power. I am often guilty of attaching the charger to my phone without actually making sure the unit is plugged into the wall. And I just know that on the day of the big power outage, my phone will be sitting on the counter completely drained after our kids played a round of Candy Crush.

Our battery situation is equally bleak, as we usually only have enough battery power to make sure the remote controls work for the TV. There have been days when I have taken batteries out of other gadgets to make sure there is power in the TV remote. We do have a box of “extra batteries” — but it is filled with obscure types of batteries that only seem to work with those calculator wristwatches from the 1980s.

And the only time we have blankets and bottled water available is when we’re heading out of the house to watch the Canada Day fireworks.

In short, our family is simply not prepared to handle any type of natural disaster. But since this is the time that most people vow to improve their lives and make resolutions, I am promising to improve our family’s disaster preparedness situation in the new year.

Over the next few days, there will be several cans of Campbell’s Chunky Soup purchased. Fresh batteries and bottles of water will also be stocked up in our basement. And some back-up Snoopy Sno-Cone syrups — because you should always plan for the worst-case scenario.

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