Is your home ready for an emergency?

We’re all spending more time at home at the moment, so getting your home ready for the unexpected is even more important.

This article focuses on how you can get prepared for an emergency, like an earthquake for example. For specific advice about earthquake safety, check out the recording of our Virtual ShakeOut drill from October 2020 or head to our earthquake safety page.



Do I really need to get ready?

You bet your pocket knife you do! COVID-19 lockdown measures have shown us that when the unexpected happens, access to important resources can be restricted. Planning ahead and being self-sufficient will help keep you and your loved ones safe.

Being prepared also lessens the load on emergency response teams (including UBC’s), so they can focus on supporting the most vulnerable people in our communities and getting back to providing core services.

We all have a part to play in emergency preparedness, getting ready helps you, your family and friends and the wider UBC community.

Emergency-proof your home

No home can ever be completely emergency-proof, but there are some things you can do to make it safer in the event of an emergency:

  • Secure heavy furniture, like bookcases or shelving units, in place.
  • Avoid placing heavy items on high shelves, where they could fall and cause damage.
  • Think about the locations of hanging lights, pictures and mirrors. What would be the impact if they fell?
  • Store some bottled water. Water from your plumbing system won’t be drinkable after an earthquake unless boiled, but you can still use it for washing or flushing.
  • If you experience flooding in your home as a result of an earthquake, stay out of any standing water. Electrical currents, raw sewage or unseen hazards may be present.



Make an emergency plan

Preparing your home is a great way to get ready for an emergency, but ensuring you have an emergency plan in place is an ever better way to protect yourself and your family.

Emergencies situations are typically distressing, which can make good decision-making during them difficult. So thinking about your response and making a plan before you need to will probably yield better results.

Write your plan down, and keep a couple of copies at home, at work and in the car just in case.


Your plan starts with you

  • What are the things you absolutely need?
    Do you wear glasses or take medication? Make sure these important things are mentioned in your plan, even if you always carry them.
  • Where are you likely to be?
    Your plan should include common locations like home, work, school etc. where you’re most likely to be when an emergency happens Think about how your travel to and from these destinations and how that might be impacted.
  • Who is in your plan?
    You plan should include the people you most care about, whether they are your family, friends or pets. Think about how independent they are, how you might get to them or even just get in touch. It’s a good idea to ensure those included in the plan are familiar with it.



Where you’re based has a big impact on what your plan should include.

Think about where you are in the world.

What are some of the likely hazards in your region?

For example, in BC we’re at risk of earthquakes, wildfires and floods.


Next think about your neighbourhood.

Are you reliant on bridges or tunnels when travelling to and from your home/work?

Are you based at the top of a steep hill or next to a body of water?

Finally your immediate surroundings.

What access routes do you have into and out of your building?

How do you shut off the gas/water?



Make an emergency kit

Once you have an emergency plan, and you know how you’re going to look after yourself and your family, THEN you can build an emergency kit according to you plan.

Your kit should be tailored to meet your plan, but there are some common items you are likely to find in all emergency kits.

Remember that information is an important part of any emergency kit. Hard copies of important information like phone numbers, directions and your plan itself is always a good addition.

Keep your kit and other supplies somewhere safe and convenient in your home. In an emergency you may need to stay at home with your emergency kit or leave immediately with grab-and-go bags.

It’s easy to include as much as possible in your kit, but remember that you may have to take it with you if you need to leave your home, so try not to over pack.


You can find information about how to get ready for all kinds of emergencies in the Take Action section of this website.

Make a Kit
Make a Plan